By Patrick James on 2018-09-15 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Dacia Duster Comfort
THE Dacia Duster is a car which can leave many people scratching their heads as to why it is so attractive.
Why? Well, the price is one obvious answer and the quality of the product is another. How do we know this? Well, Dacia has sold more than 120,000 cars in the UK since launching five years ago
A runaway sales success, relatively, the second generation of the Romanian built SUV/crossover, is, to coin a phrase, exactly the same, but different. First unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, September 2017 it features upgraded styling, not looking radically different, but not one body panel is carried over from the previous car.
With a complete makeover to the interior as well, the car still retains the dimensions of the previous model.
It also retains the the crazy price range, or 'shockingly affordable', as the firm likes to say, starting at with entry-level Access at £9,995.
It is pretty basically equipped for that price and you will need to supply your own radio, while sat nav is not available on the base model but it includes front and side airbags, electric front windows, roof bars, electric front windows and steering wheel height adjustment, assisted braking, stability and traction control, gearshift indicator and ECO mode to conserve fuel.
The Comfort trim driven here and the range-topping Prestige boast excellent levels of equipment, some you would normally expect in an executive model and a whole raft of safety features.
Choose four-wheel drive and it becomes a capable offroader, with its high ground clearance, hill descent control and start up assist.
Despite looking broadly the same, look more closely and you can see the changes. It has a more robust, muscular look, with 16-inch wheels with black honeycomb-style wing arch trims which are a new innovation, satin chrome door mirrorr and front and rear skid plates, all of which reinforce the SUV profile.
There is a new bonnet with wider grille encompassing light clusters with daytime running lights. The rear lighting signature - four red stacked squares - is not unlike the equally eye-catching Jeep rear light cluster.
Inside has been a complete makeover with a higher-positioned centre console a dash with touchscreen controls for major functions like sat nav, connectivity and sound systems.
Otherwise controls are sturdy and logical. There are some nice trim touches with the chrome inserts on the multi-function steering wheel and gearknob the central control fascia features piano-style keys.
The seats are supportive and new sound-proofing materials make for a quieter ride in the cabin.
Storage capacity inside has been increased by 20 per cent to a total of 28.6 litres, while boot capacity remains at 445 litres for the two-wheel-drive (2WD) version and 411 litres for the four-wheel-drive (4WD) version.
There is a choice of 1.6 SCe petrol on this model or a 1.5-litre dCI diesel and both are sourced from parent firm Renault.
The 1.6-litre delivers 115bhp and is mated to a five-speed gearbox. Sports performance not a chance, but enough for most needs when you drive an SUV/crossover.
Economy of 43.5mpg officially claimed is not a million miles off the real world and it is cheap to insure.
Dacia Duster Comfort SCe 115bhp
Mechanical: 116bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 11.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 43.5
Insurance Group: 11
C02 emissions: 149g/km
Bik rating: 30%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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