The Dacia Duster is now already quite some time with us, but has lost nothing of its appeal. We recently drove a lavishly equipped “Prestige” 4 x 4 version with a very smooth and powerful state of the art 110 hp Diesel engine. The high-end version of this Duster seduced us with its excellent finish, build quality and we can only say that this Dacia will continue to throw up some dust in its segment!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
The overall proportions and contours of the Dacia Duster are still quite pleasing, and we like its well rounded shapes. The metallic paint colour and trim of our test car with its well finished door panel upholstery and last but not least leather seats left an impression of quality and gave an "upmarket" feel to the car. Our test car came in the "prestige" equipment line, and this sports besides the leather seats also a leather covered steering wheel and gearlever.
Controls are very well laid out and easy and intuitive to use. We appreciated very much the straightforward disposition of the screen controls of the audio/media/navigation system, and the large, easy to read display. The sound system was surprisingly good and we are very fond of the Renault typical disposition of the steering column mounted volume and frequency controls of the radio/sound system. Every car should have one!
Our test car was equipped with the 110 Hp dCi engine, a 1461 cc diesel unit delivering a good 81 KW or 109 HP at 4000 rpm. This engine runs quite smoothly, and delivers excellent pulling power in low and mid rev ranges: maximum torque is 240 Nm at 1750 rpm.
The car drives quite lively and feels actually in practice a lot quicker than the pure performance figures would suggest: the manufacturer quotes a top speed of 168 kmh and an acceleration from 0 to 100 in 12,9 seconds.
But the excellent spacing of the gears, being rather low geared for gears 1 to 5, results in plenty of pulling power and quite brisk accelerations in these intermediate gears. The Duster is therefore als a delight to drive in slow crawing (city) traffic, with, as said, plenty of power at hand in any situation. The low gears make it also an excellent towing vehicle, as already the tow bar mounting on our test car suggests...
Is city driving with the lively performance, the good all round visibility and the still rather compact overall dimensions a pleasure, motorway driving is also very good. The straight line stability is excellent, engine power in the high sixth cruising gear is still more than sufficient to maintain the cruising speeds wiithout any effort on steeper "Autobahnen" hills, with engine noise and vibrations being filtered out very nicely. Add to this the excellent cruise control, wich is also very easy to set/reset on the steering wheel, and you understand that longer motorway journeys are something to enjoy in the Duster.
Comfortable and agile
The suspension is by no means harsh, the seating position is excellent for the driver, but also the other passengers find enough adjusting possibilities and (leg)room to be comfortable even for longer trips.
The car steers precise, with enough feedback, and although the car does not invite you to throw it around corners, it is pleasant and agile to drive, and also finds its way on curvy (mountain) roads.
The Duster can be set by a simple and straightforward turn of a selector knob on the centre console in two or four wheel drive mode, and one can also select the "auto" mode, where the car will automatically choose four wheel drive when in slippery terrain.
The Duster is by no means thirsty, considering it is a 4WD vericle. The manufacturer quotes 5,2 litres/100 km on average, and it proved rather easy to achieve this figure. Respecting the gearchange suggestions of the board computer, even in city traffic a consumption below 6 litres on 100 km is well within the cards.
The diesel engine is very smooth from 1500 rpm onward, and as said, develops ample pulling power throughout the rev range. The C02 emissions amount to 135 g/km.
Internationally popular: more than 1 million Dusters sold...
We conclude this test by telling you that the Duster has won many hearts already the world over.
Its biggest market is ...Russia, where it sells as a Renault, and is produced there in Moskow and is sold in 151.633 units. Of course France is the second biggest market, with 145.612 units sold under the brand Dacia, coming from the Pitesti plant in Romania.
The large centre console touchscreen lets you browse through the functions swiftly and use them intuitively...
The third market is Brazil, with 117.303 Dusters sold as Renaults and built in Brazil in the Curitiba factory.
In the Indian factory in Chennai some 85.974 Dusters are built for the Indian market. Last but not least in Germany, some 70.159 Dusters are sold over the last four years.
The Duster is indeed an excellent all round car, its good qualities are very well balanced. The car is lively, frugal, comfortable, roomy and last but not least is a very good performer on slippery and uneven terrain.
Add to this the well-proven drivetrain of the Renault-Nissan group and the state of the art diesel engine, and you can agree with us that this Dacia is well worth a closer look, certainly when you know that it also offers very good value for money: In Belgium, the New Duster is available from 11.990 Euro onwards, and our test car cost a very attractive 20.300 Euro, including metallic paint finish, and European navigation map…
Hans Knol ten Bensel