Budget SUV receives papal treatment with lowered suspension, plush rear seat and roof-mounted glass box
Felix Page Autocar writer
27 November 2019

Renault has gifted a specially modified Dacia Duster to the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. 

The budget SUV has been adapted to suit papal needs by Dacia’s Prototype department and Special Needs Team, in partnership with Romanian coachbuilder Romturingia. 

The new Popemobile offers the same five-seat layout as the standard Duster but has a "particularly comfortable" rear bench added to suit lengthy public parades. 

Also featured are a large sunroof, roof-mounted grab handles and, as is customary with Popemobiles from all marques, a removable transparent display box to allow crowds a better look at His Holiness.

The Duster is finished in white with a leather interior, and its suspension has been lowered by 30mm to allow for easier ingress and egress. 

It was delivered to The Vatican by Christophe Dridi, managing director of Groupe Renault Romania, and Xavier Martinet, general manager of Groupe Renault Italy.

The Duster won't be the Pope's first experience of a Dacia; during a 2016 visit to Armenia, he used an unmodified example of the Logan saloon as his official transport. He promotes frugality and modesty, whereas his predecessors rode in a variety of premium vehicles, including those from Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover.

In 2017, Lamborghini gifted Pope Francis a Huracán specially painted in the official colours of The Vatican. After he had blessed and autographed the car, it was sold at a charity auction for £630,000.

Read more

Pope's Lamborghini Huracán fetches £630,000 at charity auction​

Our Verdict

Dacia Duster 2018 road test review hero front

Romania’s value champion compact crossover enters a second model generation. It still might not be as refined as other SUVs, but the Duster is very much in a class of its own

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Comments
12

27 November 2019

And it's had the desired effect generating a few column inches of publicity for the Romanian brand. It's surprising that the Pope and his advisors allowed this, might have made more sense to run something more dignified, or support the Italian car industry - or at least what's left of it!

27 November 2019

He's also been seen being chauffeured in a Ford Focus & a Fiat 500L on his US trip. He's always made the point that it's obscene for him to be driven around in Luxury Limosines when there is so much poverty in the world.

He's setting an example which should be followed in his Church, especially in countries like Germany where many lowly Bishops get carted around in top notch Mercedes S class or BMW 7 Series, all funded by the tax payer!

29 November 2019

The obscene wealth of the Catholic church and its pomp and ceremony is the elephant in the room, the Anglican church isn't far behind it. If you have to believe in a supreme being do you really need a hideously expensive executive body to dictate and guide you?

Jesus would be spinning in his grave if he hadn't come back all those years ago..

27 November 2019

Amongst the spurious arguments that are advanced for the plague of SUVs that infest our roads, one of the main ones is that it makes getting in and out easier for drivers and passengers who are getting on a bit.

And here we have a SUV which has been *Lowered* by 30mm to facilitate entry and exit for its illustrious occupant.

Pope Francis is aged 82.

In the light of this, would any SUV fan care to attempt a defence of the "easy entry & exit" argument?

29 November 2019

He prefers getting in and out of my Xtrail than his 15yr old Corsa, so do I for that matter at 55

27 November 2019
Big enough for a few choirboys...

27 November 2019

In no way would I ever mock a religion but you have to admit there has to be some irony in the Catholic church promoting frugality and modesty.

Given their lack of transparancy and their reluctance for anyone to know just exactly how large Peter's Pence really is, we can safely assume there must be a few quid in the bank if they can afford to invest $200 million dollars in a London development.

Not sure they'll be many who could afford to describe a Sloane Square property as 'modest'.

  

27 November 2019

 There's a lot worse going on in the World than dissing the Pope for saving some money....

29 November 2019

The likes of the pope don't "pay" for these cars so, ergo, do not "save" money. What is worse is the obscene cost of the status quo, the hideous, uneccesary expense of the Catholic hierarchy.

Swapping to a cheaper car pales into insignificance

28 November 2019

Reminds me of the Spitting Image sketch where Jesus came back to earth - "sell the Popemobile, get a Renualt 4!"

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