Motoring review: The all new Dacia Duster presents a bargain in bloated SUV market

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Motoring review: The all new Dacia Duster presents a bargain in bloated SUV market
By Patrick Ward 12:30 Sunday 9th of December 2018

The Dacia Duster first arrived in Ireland back in 2013, and steadily there has been an increase in the amount of them on our roads. The increase was especially noticeable due to the eye-catching characteristics of the SUV, and many weren’t too keen on the look of the Romanian manufacturer’s offering. Questionx centred on its reliability also, but Dacia have brought about a remarkable upturn in the offering to potential new customers with their latest iteration of the Duster.

The 182 version has been given a serious up-styling, ensuring that it can comfortably sit amongst its contemporaries and not be regarded as the ugly duckling any longer.

It is the bargain car of the Irish market right now, with the bottom line model available for just €17,390, while you can add in plenty of extras to boost the driver experience for just over €7,000 extra. The model tested here was the Dacia Duster Prestige, which will set you back €24,490.

Style and comfort

As previously mentioned, the new Duster is a major improvement on its previous forms in the looks department. Dacia have reshaped the car and it just looks a bit smoother, sleeker and a little less square.

The most notable change is at the front, which has been revamped to get rid of the rather ghastly fog lights and strip away much of the plastic looking parts of the exterior.

The 17” diamond cut alloys are really elegant looking, and the entire body is just a little simpler looking than previous versions, and that’s a good thing.

It’s a comfortable car to sit into, with plenty of adjustments available in the two front seats. One oversight on the part of the manufactures is the absence of a footrest to the left of the clutch pedal, which really can frustrate on long journeys if you’ve clicked into cruise control.

The interior is almost strikingly plain, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you enjoy endless buttons, levers and what not. It’s no frills, and you can revel in the simplicity of it all.

Driving

This is where the Dacia Duster really provides value for money. It has a perfectly adequate 1.6 diesel engine with an output of 115bhp, and it doesn’t lack in the power department whatsoever. It’s quite nippy despite its large frame, and the six-speed gearbox is very smooth to run through.

The Duster handles very well and there is no hint of the roll that you tend to get on some SUVs when cornering. The ride overall is quite tranquil, with an accommodating suspension entitling this car to be considered an off-road option.

Overall, the drive is much better than you would expect for an SUV of this price.

Technology

Undoubtedly, the highlight in the technology pack with the Prestige version is the 360 degree cameras on the Duster. That covers your rear, front and blindspots, and the quality is really clear. There is also a button on the dash which allows you to flick between the cameras without having to pop the car into reverse, which is something we hadn’t seen before on other cars.

Aside from that, you get a lot of the usuals with new cars. There is your standard USB and Bluetooth link up, though Dacia haven’t integrated Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on the entertainment system.

Adaptive cruise control is also absent, but you do have the additional options of blindspot notification for approaching cars which is a handy feature.

Economy

It seems to be quite economical, punching in at around 4.8 litres of diesel per 100km. It would be slightly less for city driving, but this was mostly tested out on open road.

Verdict

The Dacia Duster was a pleasantly surprising driving experience, delivering a lot more than you would expect for what is essentially a bargain price for a new car. Sure, there are improvements that can be made, but you won’t go too far wrong if selecting a Duster when looking for a cheaper new buy.

Fact box

  • The new Dacia Duster range is available from Joe Mallon Motors on the Sallins Road in Naas
  • Available with 1.6 petrol 115bhp or 1.6 diesel 115bhp engines
  • Comes in eight different colours, with metallic paint optional
  • A new Dacia Duster 4x4 will be hitting the Irish market in 2019
  • Base price starts from €17,390 and the Prestige model is available for €24,490

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