The old Top Gear reasonably priced car was meant to be a Dacia Sandero
So, I am currently reading Richard Porter's book, 'And On That Bombshell'. It is a great book which takes you behind the scenes of Top Gear, I would highly recommend it. However, I had to address the chapter which I have just read titled, 'Good News!'.
In this chapter, Porter unravels a story I never knew existed. So, remember back in the old days of Top Gear when the James's 'Good News!' joke started when he talked about anything Dacia related? Well, the next logical step after this gag would be to have a Dacia as the reasonably priced car they put a star in, surely? In fact, this is precisely what almost happened...
They had gotten the go-ahead from Dacia as the Sandero was finally coming to the UK so it would be possible to use it in the show. As Dacia is owned by Renault they even got the go ahead to have a Sandero with a top-spec roll cage and bucket seats fitted by the Clio Cup Race series themselves. This was about to be the coolest little car to ever enter the UK, at least it would have been.
Just as the car was due to come over, the economy tanked resulting in Britain entering a recession. Due to this, Renault decided it was the wrong time to launch Dacia in the UK as there was simply no point. I think Top Gear even tried to buy one to bring over some how but there just wasn't any point having a reasonably priced car which you couldn't even buy in the country the show is based.
But some of you clever people out there will know that Dacia did eventually make it to the UK a few years later. The offer for the car was still open to Top Gear, so of course they reconsidered this as a new reasonably priced car. The stig took it around the track but the results were abysmal. The Sandero was simply too slow. It was so slow in fact that the times it would produce in the hands of a celeb would be far slower than the Kia which Top Gear previously had.
Due to this 'oh cock' moment, Top Gear had to politely refuse the Sandero and get an Astra instead. I think this is a huge shame as it would have completed the running joke which James May was so popular for and it would have been enjoyable to watch...for me anyway.