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First Drive:Dacia Duster

Wednesday 09 November 2016

First Drive:Dacia Duster
Summary

The Dacia Duster was launched back in 2010, and made an impact straight away as a low-cost, hassle-free four-wheel-drive. Fast forward to the 2017 model year, and the Duster has been given a top-of-the-line specification – called Prestige – as well as an all-new 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. We’ve tested it in a mid-range Laureate-specification car.

Looks & Image

The Dacia Duster has a no-nonsense attitude towards styling. You’ll find no over-the-top styling touches or little flourishes here, but in reality this isn’t a hindrance – it’s actually quite refreshing. 

The 2017 car brings with it squarer headlights and a revised front bumper, which help bring it up to date. There are also a variety of other elements that customers can choose to help make their Duster personal. These included a Pennine Green paint colour, 16-inch alloy wheels and part-leather upholstery.

Inside, the utilitarian approach continues. There’s a heavy use of plastics throughout the cabin, but this is almost expected for a car that costs from around £9,495. The build quality isn’t top-notch, but the way the interior has been created should mean that it is able to stand up to the abuse of family life.

The no-frills nature of the Duster is one of its most endearing features, and is certainly a breath of fresh air when compared to many chintzy SUVs on the market today.

Space & Practicality

The Duster offers pretty much all the space that a modern family could need. There are five seats which all offer plenty of headroom and legroom, while the boot size sits at a respectable 475 litres. When you fold the seats down, this rises to 1,636 litres meaning there’s a good amount of space for larger items. The low boot lip means that loading heavier objects is hassle-free, too.

The three rear seats will be perfect for children, even when sitting three abreast. Two adults will be comfortable in the back, though it could get a little tight when sat three-up.

Behind the Wheel

Despite being quite unrefined in terms of looks, the Duster is surprisingly adept out on the road. The heavy steering and controls don’t return a huge amount of feedback to the driver, but there’s not too much lean through the bends which means that it’s a predictable car to drive. A good suspension setup means that potholes don’t jolt through the cabin, and it settles down nicely at higher speeds, which makes the Duster more relaxing on the motorway than you’d think.

Our test car came fitted with the all-new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Producing 123bhp, it has more than enough grunt for steeper inclines – though you often find yourself wishing for an oil-burner under the bonnet, which would give a little more power. Although more expensive to buy, it’ll be less of a financial burden in the long run.

Value for Money

It’s hard to beat the Duster if all you’re looking to do is go from A to B. It’s not the most exciting car you’ll ever set eyes upon, but it gets the job of being a ‘car’ done with very little grumbling. It’s also much cheaper than all of its major rivals, such as the Nissan Qashqai or SsangYong Tivoli, too.

 

Who would buy one ?

If you’re not too bothered about badge appeal, then the Duster makes for a compelling purchase. It doesn’t cost too much, yet offers a good amount of ride comfort and interior space. It’s even got a large boot. With the right engine and transmission, it won’t cost the earth to run, so for those looking for a hassle-free and simple way to get around, the Duster could make a good degree of sense. 

 

Facts at a Glance

Model: Dacia Duster Laureate TCe 125 4x4
Engine: 1.2-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol producing 123bhp and 205Nm of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual with selectable four-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph in 11 seconds, 110mph top speed
Economy: 44.1mpg
Emissions: 145g/km
On the road price: £14,895

 

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