The second-generation Dacia Duster is a practical, cut-price crossover. This good-looking, five-door, five-seater back-to-basics SUV has a headline-grabbing starting price of £9,995 for the entry-level Access model, making it perhaps the cheapest of its type money can buy.
Deals start at £129 a month. But for that you’ll have to do without a radio or climate control, though electric front windows and daytime running lights are standard.
The Dacia brand arrived in Britain six years ago as the budget arm of Renault and its cars are built in Romania. The Access trim is one of four specs along with Essential (with digital radio and air-con) from £11,595; Comfort from £13,195 and the top-of the-range Prestige from £14,395 — still around half what you’d pay for a Japanese or German rival.
Splash out? Hardly, for the revamped Dacia Duster with prices below £10,000
It’s plugging the gap left by VW-owned Skoda and Kia since those brands decided to become proper posh. The biggest Duster seller in Britain is likely to be in the mid-range Comfort trim which I’ve been testing with two-wheel drive.
It’s not luxurious; there’s more plastic than you’ll find in an Airfix kit, and only five gears.
But the fabric seats are comforting and supportive, it feels solidly built, is a pretty decent drive, and you are not bamboozled by myriad controls or on-screen options.
An extra gear would be ideal, but it gobbles up miles on motorways and is fine around town. If you’re going regularly off road, choose the four-wheel drive versions.
All mod cons: It feels solidly built, is a pretty decent drive, and you are not bamboozled by myriad controls or on-screen options
There’s no automatic yet, but a diesel and more powerful petrol engine will follow next year.
There’s plenty of space in the back and boot, and its bold looks are a step up in style from the first-generation model.
Running on 16 in wheels, it is powered by a perfectly adequate 1.6-litre 115 hp SCe petrol engine that delivers acceleration from rest to 62 mph in 11.9 seconds up to a top speed of 107 mph, while returning 43.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 149g/km, putting it in a relatively low road tax band.
The key shaft doesn’t retract so may punch a sharp hole in your pocket, but it includes a ‘plipper’ for remote locking and opening. Elements raided from the Renault parts bin include the steering column-mounted finger-tip controls.
Spacious: There’s plenty of space in the back and boot, and its bold looks are a step up in style from the first-generation model
Its bold looks are a step up in style from the first generation model. My usually highly critical, design-obsessed younger teenage son loved its simplicity.
Standard features in Comfort spec include a simple to use 7-inch dashboard touch screen for sat-nav, digital radio and other features, rear-parking camera and sensors, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, ‘eco-mode’ and start-and stop cut out to save fuel when stopped at traffic lights.
A couple of options including the bright but fetching Desert Orange metallic paint (£495)and an emergency spare wheel (£150) pushed the price as tested up to £13,935, but still within my comfort zone.
But if you’re looking for a practical everyday family value-for-money SUV that won’t break the bank, or a reasonably priced ‘station car’ to get you to your daily train commute, it’s got to be a contender.
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