When going to overseas auto shows, one can't help but spend an inordinate amount of time eyeballing forbidden automotive fruit. It's often of the seriously rare, criminally powerful and six- or seven-digit variety. But more often than one might think, the genuinely affordable overseas hero makes us swoon, too. So it is with the Dacia/Renault Duster, the cheap-as-chips, hard-wearing utility vehicle. We've often thought that its basic, rugged charms would play well in the US if saddled with a low enough price tag, but we've never seen much of a window for that to actually come true.
But now, Autocar India is reporting that Nissan will flex its alliance with Renault to spin off a Duster of its own, one that exhumes the Terrano nameplate, a moniker once used for overseas versions of the first- and second-generation Pathfinder. The new model will feature unique sheetmetal to give it a familial look, but the interior will be the same, and we expect the same goes for the powertrain, meaning there will be a range of gasoline and diesel four-cylinder engines with both manual and automatic gearboxes and front- or all-wheel drive.
So, does that mean we'll get a Nissan version of the Duster-based Terrano to call our own? Sadly, almost certainly not. Company spokesman Dan Bedore tells Autoblog flatly, "There are no plans to bring this model to the US." Bummer. Even if it isn't ultimately as capable as the larger, long-in-the-tooth Xterra (it's more on par with the now departed Canadian-market X-Trail), we think the Duster's archetypal SUV looks and low cost barrier would win it plenty of fans in our market. Our guess is that redesigning the model to meet US regulations (crash, emissions, lighting, etc.) would be prohibitively expensive, and the Dacia/Renault model is built in some pretty distant facilities – Brazil, India, Romania and Russia among them – making the business case harder still.
Having said all that, if CEO Carlos Ghosn and friends are still considering the project, please mark us down in the "Yes, please" column... we'll even trade in the Cube or Murano CrossCabriolet as a gesture of good faith.