The Duster stays true to its ethos, providing first rate practicality and all of the gear you really want at a frankly astonishing value. There’s no escaping the age of a few of its underpinnings, although, so whereas Dacia devotees could also be snug sufficient with this new range-topping auto model, everybody else will discover higher worth (and, most certainly, a extra beneficial star score) additional down the vary.
Dacia is forging forward with a significant new-model push. We’ve been impressed by the newest Sandero and Stepway, and the forthcoming Jogger seven-seater appears extraordinarily promising. Within the meantime, the Renault-owned model has given its current SUV, the Duster, just a few well timed updates to attempt to preserve it contemporary earlier than an all-new model arrives, in all probability in 2023.
That is Dacia we’re speaking about right here, although, so don’t anticipate a radical overhaul. The road-up of engines stays broadly unchanged, with an 89bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol as the place to begin, and a 1.3-litre four-cylinder 128bhp motor for many who need a bit extra shove. Each choices are front-wheel drive and include a six-speed guide gearbox.
The range-topping petrol that we’re driving here’s a 148bhp model of the identical 1.3. It’s front-wheel drive solely once more, but it surely doesn’t get a guide choice; it comes with a brand new six-speed dual-clutch automated.
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Dacia will nonetheless promote you a diesel Duster – a 113bhp 1.5-litre unit – with a six-speed guide and the selection of front- or four-wheel drive, and the agency continues to supply the LPG-compatible Bi-Gasoline powertrain that brings a mixed vary, between petrol and gasoline, of greater than 760 miles.
From the skin, the upgrades are modest. There’s a brand new radiator grille, a contemporary design of alloy wheels, a few new finishes in key areas and completely different headlights, incorporating new Y-shaped LED daytime working lights to assist tie this older mannequin in with the newest Sandero’s design language. Inside, the Duster will get fresher-looking materials, slimmer headrests and a brand new centre console, incorporating USB connectivity on some fashions, plus a 1.1-litre storage bin and an armrest.
The vary of trim ranges continues to be simplicity itself. Entry-level Important variations come on 16-inch metal wheels and get automated headlights, LED daytime working lights, attain and rake adjustment on the steering column, a DAB radio and air-conditioning. Curiously, this version is being provided with solely a alternative of the 89bhp petrol or the bi-fuel, which has the identical engine however is rated at 99bhp as a result of its output is larger while you flick the LPG change. They’re priced identically, too, at simply £13,995.
Spend an additional £1,500 and you may have Consolation, the seemingly best-seller, which incorporates 16-inch alloys, entrance fog lights, heating and electrical adjustment on the aspect mirrors, electrical rear home windows, a leather-based steering wheel and upgraded upholstery. It additionally brings Dacia’s newest eight-inch infotainment system, with a pair of USB sockets and hook-ups for each Android and Apple telephones, plus a rear-view digital camera and rear parking sensors.
High-spec Status fashions, just like the automotive pictured and pushed right here, function 17-inch alloys, privateness glass, entrance parking sensors, sat-nav, local weather management and heated entrance seats.
The brand new mixture of engine and gearbox actually provides a contemporary dimension to the vary, though the Duster isn’t about to embarrass costlier equipment on efficiency. The 1.Three motor has first rate punch low down, and when you can rev it to 4,000rpm and past, there’s actually no must. Dacia claims a 0-62mph time of slightly below 10 seconds and that’s a good reflection of the efficiency total: it’s acceptable, with out ever feeling brisk. The engine is clean when revved, although, and at a gradual 65mph cruise it’ll be sitting at round 1,200rpm, a refined companion.
The brand new gearbox shall be in your aspect by that time too, but it surely’s not with out its foibles. The shifts are typically clean sufficient, however the software program controlling them could be responsible of clumsy choices on kickdowns and holding gears when it could be a lot better served by the next ratio. On this respect, the Duster auto isn’t fairly a full rival for the dual-clutch VW Group merchandise, and it’s a way off what Peugeot and Citroen have achieved with a standard eight-speed auto.
Past a tweak to the steering calibration, Dacia’s engineers haven’t actually mucked round with the Duster’s set-up. That brings execs and cons; it’s just about solely targeted on consolation, and basically it delivers that. Our Status-spec 17-inch alloys in all probability didn’t assist a lot right here – we suspect a Consolation on 16s could be that little bit extra compliant – however the Duster does an excellent job of absorbing greater bumps, solely actually coming unsettled over lengthy stretches of damaged tarmac.
It does are inclined to need a second stab at most conditions, although – a second head toss over greater bumps, a second small bounce earlier than settling its physique right into a quicker nook, even a supplementary steering enter in twistier sections (the elevated response at larger speeds doesn’t actually carry a lot of a acquire in accuracy, we’d say).
You quickly get used to those traits – certainly, for those who’re already a dedicated Duster proprietor you’d in all probability discover them reassuringly acquainted. However the older underpinnings (this automotive’s platform could be traced again to 2004) are betrayed by much less interesting behaviour that’s more and more uncommon in trendy vehicles: the quantity of transference of vibration to the cabin, by means of the steering wheel and pedals.
There’s a good quantity of wind noise from across the A-pillars, too, presumably as a result of the revisions didn’t lengthen to remodeling sheet metallic. In these respects, the Duster does now really feel a correct technology behind the newest Sandero and significantly the Stepway. A facelift can solely achieve this a lot.
The cabin, in the meantime, stays brutally stark in design however options hard-wearing plastics and confirmed switchgear that’s more likely to be as sturdy as it’s uninteresting to have a look at. The brand new Sandero-sourced eight-inch infotainment system remains to be mounted decrease down within the fascia than we’d like, but it surely has a crisp show and is fairly snappy to answer your inputs.
Even the built-in navigation on the Status mannequin isn’t a nasty effort – although we, like nearly all of Dacia prospects, would in all probability save our money, go for the cheaper Consolation trim degree and use the Apple or Android integration as a substitute.
There’s actually house on board for a small household, and 4 six-footers might journey a good distance with out grumbles from these within the rear seats (they’ll in all probability moan about kneeroom first). And whereas the boot does with out intelligent options, like a variable-height flooring or retractable baggage hooks, recover from the hefty load lip and there’s 445 litres of capability on supply. That’s greater than 60 litres up on what you’d discover in a VW Golf – a mirrored image of the Duster’s razor-sharp positioning as closely abused, carry-all transport with house and worth at its coronary heart.
Talking of which, it’s essential to place this range-topping Duster Status’s value into context. It is available in at a smidgen over 20 grand total, however proper now it’ll value you simply over £300 per thirty days on a four-year PCP deal, with a single month’s deposit – a really low cost method into a really sensible automobile. Nevertheless, whereas the altogether extra trendy Renault Captur automated will set you again an preliminary £2,360, it should really work out £500 cheaper over the 48 months.
|Mannequin:||Dacia Duster Status TCe 150 EDC|
|Engine:||1.3-litre, 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Six-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive|