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Keeping it simple – Dacia Duster

With more than 2 million vehicles sold, the Duster has been the number one car for retail sales in its class in Europe’s SUV market since 2019. The Duster now features a  fresh and contemporary design and hours spent in the wind tunnel have allowed for a reduction in drag and therefore CO2 as well as delivering lower fuel consumption.
duster front

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19 September 2023

What is it?

A big improvement on the Dacia Duster of old – the days 30+ years ago before Renault took over the Romanian brand. The French company has since brought it right up to date while retaining all the benefits of an SUV at a city car price.

The latest Duster was first launched in the UK in 2013 and with almost shockingly affordable value ithas shaken-
up the SUV segment, having broken the industry rules to become a unique offering for consumers.

With more than 2 million vehicles sold, the Duster has been the number one car for retail sales in its class in Europe’s SUV market since 2019.

The Duster now features a  fresh and contemporary design and hours spent in the wind tunnel have allowed for a reduction in drag and therefore CO2 as well as delivering lower fuel consumption.

The Duster’s engine range has been completely renewed and includes petrol, diesel, and Bi-Fuel LPG powertrain options, a choice of manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions, and the option of a proven and capable 4×4 drivetrain. The Duster is available with a six-speed automatic EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) gearbox paired with the TCe 150 engine, offering the comfort and pleasure of an automatic gearbox while keeping fuel consumption and CO2 emissions close to those of a manual. The line-up includes:
• Diesel: dCi 115 (two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive) combined with a six-speed manual gearbox.
• Petrol:
o TCe 90 (two-wheel drive) combined with a six-speed manual gearbox.
o TCe 130 (two-wheel drive) combined with a six-speed manual gearbox.
o TCe 150 (two-wheel drive) combined with a six-speed automatic EDC gearbox.
• Bi-Fuel (petrol-LPG): TCe 100 (two-wheel drive) combined with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Dacia continues to offer the factory-fitted Bi-Fuel (petrol-LPG) option. The length of the manufacturer’s warranty, the service intervals, and boot capacity are identical to the petrol-only version. The LPG tank is fitted beneath the floor of the boot, in place of the spare wheel, optimising space. When running on LPG, the Duster Bi-Fuel emits on average 9.5 per cent less CO2 than an equivalent petrol engine.

duster boot

In addition, it offers a range of 767 miles thanks to its two tanks, with a combined supply of almost 100 litres. This is made up of 50 litres of petrol and a 62 litre LPG tank (50 litre filling capacity). The useful supply of LPG has increased by 16.2 litres compared with the previous generation of the Duster, increasing the range by more than 155 miles.

For even more versatility, the Duster is available as a Commercial Vehicle. The Duster Commercial is homologated as an N1 commercial version and builds on the Duster’s rugged and resilient nature. The conversion takes place at the factory, and features a completely flat wooden load floor covered with a hard-wearing surface. A sturdy mesh bulkhead safely separates the load area from the front passenger compartment, while a series of lashing eyes make it easy to secure loose cargo.A full-length removable load cover keeps the cargo bay’s contents shielded from prying eyes, aided by the opaque film applied to the fixed rear windows. Finally, rubber mats and a built-in alarm system round out the protection measures.

With up to 1,623 litres of cargo space on offer, the Duster Commercial is a natural fit for hard-working trades. The absence of a load sill makes accessing the space easy and, with a bay length of 1,792mm, even the longest loads can be accommodated with ease. A generous load width of 1,247mm and a floor-to-ceiling height on the 4×2 models of 917mm means bulky items can be easily transported, too.

There is a straightforward, simple-to-understand model line-up of four trims – Essential, Expression, Journey and Extreme.
Just two options are available across the range, honouring Dacia’s promise to keep things simple: a spare wheel
can be added to all Dusters except Bi-Fuel models for £300, while metallic and special paint options are available
for only £650.

Kicking off the range at just £17,295 on-the-road, the Duster Essential wears durable 16-inch steel wheels, new Y-shaped LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, and black roof bars, while inside there’s a height and reach-adjustable steering column, cruise control with speed limiter, seven-function on-board computer, DAB Radio and manual air conditioning.

Available from £18,295 on-the-road, Expression adds 16-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, body-coloured door handles, and Hill Descent Control. The interior, meanwhile, gains upgraded upholstery, high centre console with armrest, height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel, electric rear windows, rear-view camera, and an 8-inch Media Display infotainment system complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

At £19,795 OTR, the Journey only adds to Duster’s already generous value-for-money proposition with 17-inch alloy wheels, Grey Quartz modular roof bars, dark-tinted rear windows, automatic wipers, and an acoustic windshield. Building on the Expression specification, the Journey goes further with automatic air conditioning, keyless entry, electric folding door mirrors, Multiview camera, front parking sensors, blind spot warning system, heated seats, and an 8-inch Media Nav on-board navigation system with smartphone connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The £20,295 Extreme includes its own distinctive personality with 17-inch Black alloy wheels with Copper Brown Dacia logo for the centre caps, Copper Brown Duster inscription on the roof bars and tailgate, Copper Brown door mirrors, and a topographical pattern on the snorkel and B-pillars. Inside, the Copper Brown highlights continue on the air vents and the contrasting stitching on the upholstery, door trims and handbrake, while the topographical pattern reappears on the door sills and rubber floor

 

What do we think?

It’s important to remember that this is what you might call a budget brand, but even so the overall package us pretty good. While not the most luxurious, the cabin is functional and durable and following the most recent update, the Duster has gained 100% new seat fabric and newly shaped headrests for improved ergonomics. New, slim profile headrests improves the visibility in the passenger compartment for rear passengers looking to the front and vice versa.

Available on selected models, the high centre console with 70mm sliding armrest houses a closable, 1.1-litre storage compartment and two USB charging sockets for the rear passengers. Comprehensive standard equipment includes an onboard computer, automatic main beam activation and cruise control and speed limiter with backlit controls on the steering wheel.
Automatic climate control with a digital display, heated front seats and a hands-free key card are available on higher specification versions.

duster dashThere is  a choice of two new multimedia systems. In addition to the Dacia Plug & Radio audio equipment (radio, MP3, USB, and Bluetooth), two multimedia systems are available: Media Display and Media Nav. These are accessed through the centrally mounted 8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard.

With Media Display, the equipment includes four speakers (two “boomer” speakers and two tweeters at the front),
DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, and wired smartphone replication compatible with Apple CarPlay
and Android Auto. Specific controls on the steering wheel are used to activate voice recognition that allows the
driver to control iOS or Google smartphone assistants with their voice.

Media Nav adds onboard navigation and two additional speakers. The interface on Media Display and Media Nav includes a vehicle tab that is used to access economical driving information and, on the four-wheel drive version, the 4×4 Monitor which displays an altimeter, inclinometer, and compass information.

The Duster has proved to be a dependable SUV for both every day and off-road use. Its high ground clearance, optimised tyres and specific 4×4 Monitor (on the four-wheel drive version) mean the Duster is at home both on the road and off the beaten track. It’s versatility – and value for money – is a major reason the Duster is being used by South Central Ambulance and South Western Ambulance as response vehicles for their volunteer Community First Responders.

In terms of safety equipment, the Duster is equipped with the latest-generation Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as standard. There are also other key driver-assistance systems (ADAS) available:

• Blind Spot Warning: Operating between 19mph and 87mph.

• Park assist.

• Hill Start Assist.

• Adaptive Hill Descent Control (4×4 version).

• Multiview Camera.

duster rear

On the road, the Duster’s is electric power steering is somewhat light for decent road feel, but jt is accurate and progressive enough while the ride is pretty good. The car deals well enough with town and country roads although hard acceleration will induce some angry engine noise while you an also expect a higher degree of wind and tyre noise than in in many modern vehicles.

That said, we are dealing at the budget end of the market and the Duster does offer practicality, versatility and space at very affordable prices while leasing comes in at around £230 a month.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE TCe 90
4×2
TCe100
Bi-Fuel 4×2
TCe 130
4×2
TCe 150
Auto 4×2
Blue dCi
115 4×2
Blue dCi
115 4×4
Fuel type Unleaded petrol Unleaded petrol/LPG Unleaded petrol Unleaded petrol Diesel Diesel
Emissions standards Euro 6D Full Euro 6D Full Euro 6D Full Euro 6D Full Euro 6D Full Euro 6D Full
Engine capacity (cc) 999 999 1,332 1,332 1,461 1,461
Number of cylinders / valves 3 cyl / 12 3 cyl / 12 4 cyl / 16 4 cyl / 16 4 cyl / 8 4 cyl / 8
Maximum power (hp) at rpm 90 @ 4,400-4,900 Petrol: 90 @ 4,400-4,900 LPG: 99 @ 4,600-5,000 129 @ 4,500-6000 148 @ 5,250-6,000 115 @ 3,750 115 @ 3,750
Maximum torque (Nm) at rpm 160 @ 2,200-3,750 Petrol: 160 @ 2,200-3,750 LPG: 170 @ 2,000-3,500 240 @ 1,600-3,500 250 @ 1,700-3,250 260 @ 1,750-2,750 260 @ 1,750-2,750
PERFORMANCE
Top speed (mph) 103 Petrol:103/LPG:104 120 124 113 108
0 – 62 mph (s) 13.1 Petrol:15.1/LPG:13.8 10.6 9.7 10.2 10.2
FUEL ECONOMY AND EMISSIONS
CO2 WLTP (g/km) 140 Petrol: 145/LPG: 127 141 142 127 139
Combined cycle WLTP (mpg) 45.6 Petrol:44.1/LPG:35.8 45.6 44.8 58.9 53.3
Tank capacity (L) 50 Petrol: 50 / LPG: 62 (Fill cap: 50) 50 50 50 50

 

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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