Independent review by Peter Keenan
- Spacious interior
- Comfortable ride
- Unrivalled value
- Distinctive looks
The basic fact is the Romanian motor manufacturer’s gem offers a huge amount of car, for not a lot of money
The latest model delivers a blend of practicality, comfort, and goodies normally associated with motors far in advance of its price bracket.
There’s a broad range of engines and trim level options for the latest Duster that should cater for most, with the Comfort TCe 130 model being tested here.
Engines and Driving Experience
The comprehensive petrol and diesel line-up has recently expanded with the addition of the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel LPG option, delivering a combined range of over 620 miles and low carbon dioxide emissions in LPG mode.
The 1.3-litre petrol powered unit under the bonnet of the Duster I tested can’t match those figures, but it still delivers decent fuel economy aided by eco-mode and stop/start. The front-wheel drive option with the 6-speed manual gearbox is also punchier than a 0 to 62mph figure of 11.1 seconds would suggest.
It's reasonably smooth to drive for an SUV and, although it rolls a tad in corners, it offers plenty of grip, and a ride that absorbs most of the humps and hollows littering our roads these days.
The outside world is kept at bay as improved soundproofing prevents wind, road, and engine noise from assaulting sensitive ears.
The driver is also given lots of adjustment to get comfortable behind the wheel, while a 7-function on-board computer provides a raft of information.
Technology and Equipment
The Comfort model sits in the middle of a range that starts with the entry-level Access and tops out with the Prestige option.
They all deliver lots of equipment, with the Comfort boasting a kit list including high-end items such as a rear parking camera, cruise control, and a sat nav accessed via a 7-inch colour touchscreen mounted at a nice height to see and use.
The cabin is kept at a pleasant temperature thanks to air conditioning while a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and audio streaming ensure everyone is entertained.
Design and Practicality
The seats are comfortable with a front-seat foldaway armrest providing support and keyless entry allows you to open the tall, wide doors and you step up into the Duster to find a roomy cabin offering plenty of space in the back for two adults. Although, a transmission tunnel will hinder legroom if a third needs to be accommodated.
Practicality is a strong suit for the Duster, with lots of cabin storage available via numerous cubbyholes and cup holders. The boot also offers decent luggage capacity, boasting 445 litres with the rear seats in place, or 1,623 litres with them folded down.
The interior is functional, with nice touches including a leather steering wheel and piano black decorative inserts on the door panels to lift proceedings.
The attractive exterior of the second generation Duster will be instantly recognisable to the many fans who bought the popular original model for obvious ‘if it isn't broke, don’t fix it’ reasons.
But in fact when Dacia revamped the Duster it replaced every body panel which, together with 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear skid plates as well as natty front fog lights, LED daytime running lights and a new grille, give it a more upmarket look.
There are also satin chrome door mirrors, side sills, and scuff plates, as well as roof bars with a neat ‘Duster’ inscription.
The Dacia Duster's darling looks set to continue attracting value-conscious customers who love getting an SUV for the price of a supermini. Very few corners were cut, and while it costs considerably less than the majority of its rivals, the Duster is still a compelling all-round package that's more than happy to take on a wide variety of challenges during day-to-day life.