Dacia Duster test: a bunch of cars, for not a lot of money

AAccording to an obviously selfish survey commissioned by Dacia, drivers dislike “unnecessary” technology in their cars and hate paying for it. They love parking sensors, DAB radio, and satellite navigation – they can’t go anywhere without them – but the rest of the stuff the British motorist is happy to throw away. Surprise, surprise, Dacia, a famous value-driven brand, is adapting these essentials to all of its new models (because in fact, they fit just about anything less Spartan than a Caterham).

Still, I think it’s about something there. I have used features on test cars that I only discovered by accident, such as ambient sounds in a Kia, a perfume shop in a Mercedes S-Class and a torch in the tailgate of a Volvo, things that I probably wouldn’t generally opt to buy, given the choice. I also rarely used the “auto park” features I encountered, never really trusting the car to park without costly incident. Even if you are loaded (with money), your personal transport does not have to be (with an unnecessary kit). Which brings us quite cheerfully to the Dacia Duster, which can be yours, with the most desirable features on a modern car, but not much else, for £ 13,995, or around £ 160 per month on the type usual PCP contract. After a decade in the UK, Dacia models still hold spectacular value, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about to be seen in your smart, fashionable and rugged looking Duster. In a way, Dacia seems to avoid jokes aimed at other low-budget brands, and that’s a remarkable feat. It’s snob-proof – and at no extra cost.

THE SPEC

Dacia Duster

Price: £ 20,890 (as tested; range starts at £ 13,995)

Engine capacity: 1.3 liters of gasoline; 6 speed automatic

Power output (bhp @ rpm): 110 @ 5,250

Maximum speed (mph): 124

0-62 mph (seconds): 9.7

Fuel economy (mpg): 44.8

CO2 emissions (g / km): 142

It just updated the second-gen version and kept it looking very presentable, with a new grille and headlights, an 8-inch touchscreen, and a new dual-clutch automatic gearbox (optional). While very few of us spend a lifetime wishing we had a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, that doesn’t mean it’s not a very useful improvement over older models, the preselecting your next scheduled report, so everything is ready for you on the go. I have had the option mounted on my test model, and I can confirm that it works relatively well. Along with a few other changes to the wheels and tires, Dacia also reduced CO2 emissions by a few percentage points, which is also obviously good news, and means lower fuel costs.

Almost all of the engine options are low-displacement Renault petrol units, driving only the front wheels, and the diesel only version is best suited to the 4×4 variant of the Duster, a serious little off-roader for the price, now that the adorable and capable Suzuki Jimny is off the market. There is also, unusually, a dual-tank dual-fuel petrol / LPG version, derived from the popularity of these fuels in its main Eastern European markets, if you really want to optimize fuel economy and have access to fuel. ‘an LPG point of sale nearby. By the way, there are no hybrid Dusters. The all-electric Duster concept is more forward-looking. This has been demonstrated, and we should not wait any longer for a truly green option to emerge: the parent group Renault is one of the pioneers of electric vehicles. A battery-powered Dacia should really help electric vehicles become more mainstream. Right now, I’m sorry to say, for many motorists, a fossil-fueled Dacia Duster will make more economic sense than, say, the MG ZS, its closest all-electric rival, and a brilliant piece of equipment. engineering, given that the Chinese-made Le ZS costs about double the cost of the Duster.

The touchscreen is simple to use, but you will need to plug in your smartphone to access satellite navigation in the most basic versions

(Dacia)

Otherwise, the Duster is really the happy mix of capabilities we know. There’s decent space for five and their clobber in there, and the interior is tough and hard-wearing. True to the spirit of their marketing campaign, the touchscreen is simple to use, although you’ll need to plug in your smartphone to access satellite navigation in the most basic versions of the car. The biggest change is that there is now some rest for your foot, which I would definitely consider a staple. The controls are complemented by buttons on the steering wheel and a small pod behind the steering wheel for the radio, as is traditional on French designs.

There is decent space for five people, and the interior is sturdy and hardwearing.

(Dacia)

The suspension is the right side of smoothness of a car designed primarily for school racing, and everything is surprisingly quiet and refined. Dacia offered me the most upscale version, the “Prestige” pack named without irony, with non-essential but welcome features such as cruise control, an armrest (a little too chunky, be careful), a steering wheel wrapped in leather and keyless entry. Even packed full of kit, from its beautiful 17-inch alloy rims to its gray-finished roof racks, it has just broken the £ 20,000 barrier. That’s less than some people pay for a kitchen, I’m told.

As a longtime fan of low budget brands doing low budget things, I was encouraged by the latest Duster, as you should be. It’s much, much harder to make a competitive car that does as much as a Dacia, say, or an MG or a Kia, than any supercar, where the prestige brand can name its price and money. can be thrown in trying to get him to break the laws of physics. Rather, the Dacia tries to test the limits of the economy.

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