Dacia Duster - the

real budget 4x4

Dacia Duster, 2016, front
Dacia Duster, 2016, side
Dacia Duster, 2016, rear
Dacia Duster, 2016, boot
Dacia Duster, 2016, boot
Dacia Duster, 2016, display screen

WHEN I was a small boy and there were many more makes and models of car on the roads, I could name every one of them as we went on a journey.

I was a car fanatic from the first day I rode in one and I'm still very much the same now - despite the crowded roads we all have to face.

But the other day, I met my young self - or at least - a four-year-old boy who is just as much of a car nut as I was at the same age.

And he too can name every car he sees on the road, reeling off a litany of names and models without a pause.

When I realised how much he loved cars, I took him and his dad out for a run in the Dacia Duster I was trying out and he absolutely loved it.

I shall take him out often in the future, as friends of my parents did me in various cars when I was young.

Needless to say, the Duster - in diesel 4x4 guise - is at the budget end of the crossover market. That we know.

But there is little wrong with the way it drives, and it's also very easy to live with.

Power comes from the Renault group 1.5 dCi engine producing about 110bhp. It's smooth and quiet in normal use, and quite man enough for the weight, even though acceleration is fairly slow.

Drive is to the front wheels in normal road use and in the auto setting of three, the rear wheels only come into play when the front ones begin to slip.

The other two settings are two-wheel-drive (2WD) and four-wheel-drive (4WD), when drive is to all four wheels all the time for heavier off-road work.

The six-speed gearbox has an extra low first for off-road hill climbing and on the road this means that second is the gear to use when starting off and sixth is the roadgoing fifth.

In turn, this makes the engine rev much higher than most diesels at 70 miles an hour, leading to extra noise.

Fuel consumption is pretty good despite the higher cruising revs. The government average is 60mpg and in very mixed road use, I got 45.

Not all models have 4WD though, so if you need it, make sure you get the right model.

Comfort is very good over all surfaces and it takes speed humps better than most.

Despite some roll, it also takes the corners easily and quickly, holding the road strongly even on poor surfaces.

I really enjoyed driving it and found that it could provide plenty of fun.

Rear legroom is fair and the boot massive, with a solid luggage cover and a 60/40 split fold rear seat to make it larger.

I drove the Laureate fairly high up the range, which was fitted with the £450 extra of a touch screen for the DAB stereo and sat nav.

FAST FACTS

Price: £16,500

Mechanical: 110bhp, 1,461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 104mph

0-62mph: 12.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 60

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 123g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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