Cumbria Times
Weekend Edition
Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
3:00 AM 19th March 2022

All Set To Clean Up – The Affordable Dacia Duster

The Duster first went on sale in Europe back in 2010 with UK sales beginning some three years later. An undoubted success for the Renault-owned Romanian brand, over 1.9 million cars have been sold thus far.

When the Duster first arrived on our shores, the opening price of just £8,995 shocked many. How could a company import the cars, sell them and make a profit? The answer lay in using tried and tested Renault and Nissan parts, cheap Romanian labour costs and a simple pricing structure.

I should point out that the basic model, whilst spacious, was rather sparsely equipped. Wind-up windows, no central locking and as for a radio, sorry no. Most buyers upped the spend to gain a modicum of comfort and convenience.

Since the introduction, Dacia has continually updated the Duster, no doubt using customer feedback and buying trends to cater for demand, yet always making sure to offer value for money.

The Duster underwent a makeover last year and yes, prices have risen. The entry ‘Essential’ model now costs £13,999, but there is nothing on sale today as spacious for anything like that sort of spend.

Expect to find manual air conditioning, a DAB radio, cruise control with a speed limiter and electric front windows. Also fitted is a raft of important safety equipment, the likes of which buyers of early Dusters could only have dreamt about. There may be no need to spend more.

‘Comfort’ spec is next in the pecking order (from £15,495) and in this guise you can marvel at the smart 16-inch alloy wheels, electric door mirrors, front fog lights, powered rear windows, leather steering wheel and an 8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

If you really must have the best, then ‘Prestige’ is the one to go for. From £16,695, you will now be spoilt by 17-inch alloys, automatic air conditioning, keyless entry, heated seats and satellite navigation.

There is the choice of three petrol engines in addition to a bi-fuel LPG variant. There is also a diesel motor.

Most Dusters will now be front wheel drive, with traction to all wheels only available if you specify the diesel engine. It was this model that is the subject of this test on home turf.

Don’t be put off by the modest 1.5-litre motor. With 260Nm of torque available from just 1,750rpm, it’s a willing performer. It only gets a little raucous if you fully extend it. It is exceptionally frugal with a run to Northumberland and back, a distance of some 270 miles, yielding 52mpg according to the trip computer.

Motorway cruising was a relaxed affair, with wind and road noise reasonably well muted.

One quirk of the diesel Duster is the six-speed manual gearbox. First gear is exceptionally low, so much so that setting off in second works well, with first reserved for steep hills and perhaps low speed off-road manoeuvring.

The selectable 4x4 system works well, the Duster running in 2WD unless you alter the settings. With power to all wheels, there’s traction aplenty for off-road adventures and lots of reassurance on icy and snowy roads.
Goodyear Vector 4Seasons tyres are fitted, and these give excellent traction in their own right.

What else can I tell you about the new Duster. Well, exterior design team have been to work, so please note the Y-shaped LED lights up front, the new grille and rear spoiler for improved aerodynamics.

Ride and handling are still set up more for comfort than high speed cornering, but generally the Duster makes a reasonable fist of coping with the twisty and bumpy stuff.

The driver’s seat is more comfortable than ever and more supportive too and there’s a new centre console with armrest for storage and comfort.

There’s ample room for four or five to travel in a degree of comfort and the boot is generously proportioned too.

Loyal Dacia customers will undoubtedly love the changes and improvements that come with the new Duster, but although value for money remains at the heart of the brand, the package is such that I am sure new customers will soon be making their way into the showrooms for a test drive.

Fast Facts (as tested)

Dacia Duster Comfort dCi 4x4
Price £20,145
Add £595 for metallic paint
85hp 1,461cc diesel engine
6-speed manual gearbox
0-62mph in 10.2 seconds
Top speed 108mph
Combined WLTP economy 53.3mpg
Emissions 139g/km CO2
BIK 34%
Insurance group 14E