DACIA sent a shock wave through the car industry back in 2012 when it launched its Duster, an attractively styled SUV priced at €11,322 (£9,995), and undercutting rivals by huge amounts.
Seven years on, the Duster is well established and the entry model still costs €11,322 (£9,995). Dacia – part of the giant Renault Group – uses well-proven petrol and diesel engines and Duster models also come with a choice of two or four wheel drive and depending on model, with manual or automatic gearboxes.
Entry level versions are very sparsely equipped though air-conditioning and powered front windows are standard. Most buyers will opt for mid-range models which offer more standard equipment yet are still comparatively low in price.
My featured model, the mid-range Duster Comfort with two-wheel-drive and a 1.5 litre diesel engine, costs €17,438 (£15,395). Standard features include alloy wheels, air-conditioning, and cruise control with speed limiter, touch-screen infotainment with Bluetooth and connectivity features, sat-nav, rear view camera and parking sensors. That is an outstanding specification at the price.
The Duster has cool and classy styling with distinctive front grille and the cabin has been revised and upgraded to give it a smarter look. The seats have also been improved to provide more comfort. The car seats four with adequate room for front and rear occupants and you can squeeze in a fifth if necessary. Boot space is good at 445 litres, boosted to a substantial 1,623 litres by folding the rear seats, giving the Duster top marks for practicality.
The 1.5 litre 113 hp diesel unit is smooth and relatively quiet and delivers a 0-100 kph time of 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 178 kph (111 mph), fairly typical of class standards. Emissions are low at 115 g/km and average fuel economy excellent at 22.6 kpl (64 mpg).
The firm ride quality is not quite as comfortable as some SUVs but the overall handling is assured, with composed cornering and good steering feedback.
It is hard to significantly fault the Duster – it offers tremendous value for money right across the range, and second-hand values are very strong too, emphasising the impact this model has made in the flourishing SUV sector.
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.
Model: Dacia Duster Comfort
Engine. 1.5 litre diesel
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Performance: 0-100 kph 10.2 seconds, top speed 178 kph (111 mph)
Economy: 22.6 kpl (64 mpg)
Emissions: 115 g/km