The fact that there was never a Champagne special edition of the Dacia SupeRNova is a missed opportunity. But then life is full of missed opportunities.
Like the fact that we were denied access to the Dacia SupeRNova in Britain.
If you’re after a family tree, the Dacia SupeRNova was a replacement for the not-so-super Nova – the first car to be developed in-house by the Romanian brand. Until then, Dacia relied on Renaults in fancy dress, most notably the Renault 12.
The Dacia Nova was a break from tradition, ditching the old saloon and estate bodies of the old Dacia 1300/1310 vehicles in favour of a kind of reverse Shatchback design. In common with the Daihatsu Applause, it had the styling of a saloon, but the practicality of a hatchback.
It’s also notable for having the funkiest ‘three-spoke’ style wheel trims you’re likely to see this side of Pitesti.
Launched in the year 2000, the SupeRNova was the first Dacia to arrive following Renault’s acquisition of the company in 1999. Renault took an initial 51 per cent share, which grew to 99.3 per cent over the subsequent four years.
It signalled a period of great change for Dacia, with Renault investing nearly €500m in the ageing Pitesti factory. After the SupeRNova came the Solenza, which in turn was replaced by the Logan.
In many respects, the Dacia SupeRNova was the meeting of old and new. It retained the basic look of the Nova, but gained the 1.4-litre engine and gearbox from the Renault Clio. It was also the first Dacia to be offered with air conditioning and alloy wheels.
Doesn’t it wear them well? The five-spoke alloys and colour-coded bumpers and grille are very 90s. Even in the year 2000, this must have felt like a new age for a nation accustomed to life with the Renault 12.
There were five trim levels: Europa, Confort, Rapsodie, Campus and Clima. Sadly, the Champagne SupeRNova never materialised, but we shouldn’t look back in anger.
Dacia’s masterplan worked – sales went supersonic. In 2001, it became the first Romanian-designed car to top the domestic sales chart, establishing a 25.5 per cent market share. The following year, this had increased to 28.3 per cent.
Unfortunately, the Dacia SupeRNova couldn’t live forever, and it was replaced by the Solenza in 2003. Although it was a restyled SupeRNova, equipment levels increased, and the Solenza paved the way for the Dacia Logan.
With a top speed of 100mph and a meagre 75hp from its Clio-sourced engine, the Dacia SupeRNova certainly wasn’t faster than a cannonball, but it represented a new high for the Romanian car industry.
D’you know what I mean?