Dacia Duster Access

19 Jul, 2012 1:15pm Damion Smy

The entry-level, two-wheel-drive Duster impresses on price and practicality


The Dacia Duster is an honest, rugged and likeable crossover that’s unapologetically built to a price. Yet it doesn’t feel too cheap inside, its road manners are good and there’s masses of passenger and boot space. The entry-level spec might be too basic for some (it doesn’t even include a radio) but for this amount of money, only a second-hand alternate comes close.

The Duster is the first model from Renault’s budget sub-brand, Dacia, to go on sale in the UK. And for the full Dacia experience, this entry-level, two-wheel-drive model, costing just £8,995, is the one to go for. But is it a step too far for the modern motorist?

Robust and simple styling is bolstered by pumped-up wheel arches, black bumpers and steel wheels without trims. In the flesh it has a surprisingly muscular stance and lots of road presence.

The interior is filled with hard plastics, but the dash and door trims are textured so it doesn’t look too cheap.The dash is uncluttered with the only controls for a fan heater, heated rear screen and hazard lights. The wing mirrors and windows are manually operated and there isn't a radio.

On the road, the Duster punches above its weight. The high driving position and large mirrors give excellent all-round visability from the comfortable driver’s seat, while the 104bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is impressively smooth. Throttle response is adequate considering there’s only 148Nm of torque, too.

Predictable handing, a comfortable but not floaty ride, with strong brakes and lightweight gearshift action make the Duster easy to drive. Add a maximum loading area of 1,636-litres and reasonable economy, and this entry-level Duster has personality, price and practicality in its favour.

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Well, I'd buy one.

And how many stars on Euroncap has this car? It's somewhat intriguing how could it boast such acceleration given its drag coefficient without compromising on weight and chasis stiffness. And no ESP even as option which is too bad on a highway for such a tall car.

Poor safety - 3 stars, poorly specced, depreciation like a stone, dodgy looks - sorry, but this is obviously built to a price. I certainly wouldn't risk my childs safety in one.

Dash looks like something from the 80's

8995 is for a 2 wheel drive!

'wont somebody think of the children' - who cares about a 3 star rating!! Cars now are full of so much rubbish that u r unlikely ever to need and cost a fortune to fix. Great to see a back to basics car at a realistic price. Hopefully a sign of things to come.

This car seems quite "zeitgeisty" to me. Like, like.

It makes a lot of other new cars look like emotional landscaping rather than answering relevant questions.

So refreshing, an honest car. I wonder how well this is going to sell in this cotton-wool image obsessed country.

What A Disgusting looking, Ugly, Nasty POS this is! Are we back in the early 80's????
Even 25 years ago a new Skoda Estelle 130LSE had British alloy wheels, British sunroof and a Phillips stereo!
Please God go back to Romania and stay there. Be worth £25 after 3 years if other bargain basement Protons/Perodua class cars are anything to go by!
Buy at your peril.

mauk, the 3 stars are due to the missing of ESP and the missing of the pedestrian protection too. So the driver and the passengers are well protected in the car. Otheway, the 3 stars of today are equivalent to the 5 stars protection of a BMW car, 10 years ago, so a not bad (at all!) protection for a low cost car, today.

"British" sunroof, alloy wheels and stereo are actually all things that would put me off buying a car. I do also find an alfaromeo fan berating this brands' depreciation somewhat ironic!

Check out (seriously, do a spot of research) Dacia brand reliability. Then check out that of Alfa Romeo. You should have time to do this when you're next sat on a hard shoulder provided you've sufficient charge on your smartphone or laptop. While you're there, take a look at whether or not Proton are remotely connected to Mitsubishi and whether they might be reliable. In the meantime, please, shut up.

And no need to "buy at your peril". If you spend a max 10 grand on one of their cars and run it for 4yrs without issue (as should be the case and then literally throw it away, what have you actually lost?! They're actually good value and make sense to many of us with an IQ greater than our age.

Key specs

  • Price: £8,995
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl
  • Power/Torque : 104bhp/148Nm
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph : 11.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 103mph
  • Economy/CO2: 39.8mpg/160g/km
  • Equipment: Dual-airbags, ABS, EBA, 16-inch steel wheels, folding rear bench seat, manual mirrors, wind-up windows
  • On sale: January 2013