Dacia Duster (2012 - )
Last updated 25 January 2016
The 115hp 1.6-litre 16-valve engine is a brand new unit, not simply an EU6 version of the old 1.6 petrol engine. It develops 10hp more at 5,500rpm and has an extra 8Nm of torque – now 156Nm at 4,000rpm....
With an entry price of £8995 it’s easy to have low expectations for the Dacia Duster, but it's a pleaseant surprise. Even in more expensive trim levels it is a good buy on merit of its size and practicality. For the same price as a small hatchback you can get a full-sized family car with an economical diesel engine and the option of all-wheel drive. It’s an impressive formula.
It’s not without its flaws, of course. It isn't the sharpest car to drive, nor does it pack in the most luxurious materials or the best levels of equipment. But it’s honest, unpretentious, solidly built and spacious enough for a family, with a boot that puts some larger cars to shame and enough rear leg and headroom for teenagers.
The basic model might have an almost shockingly low list price but it does without some essentials like a radio and air con. It’s only offered in white with black bumpers, which does nothing for its looks so moving up to a mid level Ambiante or the top Laureate is more sensible plus they come with the advantage of a frugal, tractable diesel engine.
Dacia offers all-wheel drive in all trim levels for a premium of around £2000. In reality very few people will need it, but for rural buyers it’s a very affordable way to get behind the wheel of a 4x4. It’ll cope with light off-road work but it’s more at home in low-grip on-road conditions like sleet.
A low purchase price, reasonable running costs and a practical design mean that the Duster can overcome its technological and dynamic shortcomings. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but for buyers seeking something honest and without lofty pretensions there's every reason to consider the Duster.
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