The Dacia Duster Black has seen the car manufacturer put aside its usual budget approach - as with the £5,995 Sandero - in favour of a luxury SUV with lots of extra kit.
Based on a show car from July’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Duster Black costs £5,880 on top of the usual price for a mid-spec Ambiance or a top-spec Laureate model. We’re driving the former fitted with the only engine option – a 109bhp 1.5-litre diesel.
You get a black vinyl wrap, leather seats, 18-inch alloys, plus a sat-nav and infotainment system with hi-res touchscreen. We like how the latter declutters the centre console, but it’s fiddly to use. Worst of all, though, is the fact the Black Ambiance doesn’t come with air-con – for that you’ll have to upgrade to the Laureate, which costs another £1,600.
There are no mechanical updates, so you get the same basic driving experience as any other Duster. That means decent low-down torque, reasonable refinement and a comfortable ride. The 18-inch alloys do add some firmness, though, and unless you’re heading off-road we’d say go for the £17,480 front-wheel-drive version rather than the £19,575 four-wheel-drive car we tested.
The main selling point of the Duster has always been its bargain basement pricing, so the £5,880 worth of purely cosmetic upgrades make little sense. A similarly priced Nissan Qashqai with the same engine and optional four-wheel drive offers more kit, more comfort and a nicer interior.