Dacia Duster Review (2013)
Already very successful elsewhere in Europe, especially in France where you see lots of them on the road.7 May 2013
Romanian car brand Dacia, owned by Renault-Nissan, is best known for its little Sandero hatchback with a bargain basement price tag. Here is another of the company’s equally price-conscious models. The Dacia Duster is a practical SUV, built in India, and selling for a very modest outlay. How does a starting price below £9,000 sound for a rugged-looking five-seater that healthily undercuts any of its rivals on cost and is simply stonking value for money? Or a few quid change from £13,000 for a strongly-performing diesel version with top-level trim and equipment?
Already very successful elsewhere in Europe, especially in France where you see lots of them on the road, the Duster is now just starting to gain a following here in the UK. It is wooing buyers with its price, practicality and pleasantly chunky styling. It may not be the prettiest thing around but it scores lots of brownie points for versatility. Smooth manners make it at home in urban areas, and it performs robustly enough for long-haul on a motorway, but it is also rugged enough not to look out of place in the country. It is an all-round practical family car.
You can have a Duster with a petrol or diesel engine, and either front-wheel-drive like this one or as a 4x4. The range starts with a 1.6 litre petrol engine, two-wheel-drive and basic Access trim at a remarkable £8,995, then comes the 1.5 litre dCi diesel with two-wheel-drive and mid-level Ambiance trim at £11,495, and this 1.5 dCi 4x2 in top-level Laureate trim is £12,995. Specifying a Duster with four-wheel-drive adds £2,000 to the price, so the flagship Duster is a 1.5 dCi Laureate 4WD at £14,995. That is still thousands of £s less expensive than any other vehicle of a similar type and performance.
Even the entry-level petrol-engined Duster is a decent performer with a 0-62 acceleration time of 11.5 seconds but with very reasonable fuel economy at just under 40 mpg on the combined figure. This diesel model is capable of doing over a ton flat out, and can sprint to 60 mph in 11.8 seconds, but still manages an official combined fuel figure of 56.5 mpg, so running costs should be reasonable.
Its engine is a 1,461 cc, four-cylinder, eight-valve turbodiesel unit, with a power output of 106 bhp at 4,000 rpm, and peak torque of 177 lb ft at 1,750 rpm. The CO2 emissions are 130 g/km, putting it in band D for the annual road tax. The car weighs 1.2 tonnes and has a towing capacity of 1,200 kg.