Dacia Duster Comfort

SCe 115 4x2

Dacia Duster, side action
Dacia Duster, side static
Dacia Duster, front static
Dacia Duster, front action
Dacia Duster, front action 2
Dacia Duster, rear action
Dacia Duster, offroad 2
Dacia Duster, boot 2
Dacia Duster, rear seats
Dacia Duster, dashboard
Dacia Duster, offroad 1
Dacia Duster, boot 1

TOOTLING around France on a lazy holiday break five years ago the roads were full of a rather smartly styled SUV with a name on the back few Brits had ever heard of - it read Dacia Duster.

That anonymity didn't last long on this side of the English Channel when canny cash strapped car buyers discovered what this hard to pronounce car brand (it's DATCHA by the way) had to offer on the value for money front.

We've been buying them by the thousand, drawn to the Duster's simple appeal of offering a sensible car at sensible money. And if we still say it wrong, who cares?

And now we've moved on to a new Duster that builds on the old car's down to earth practicalities in an all-new body that's still instantly recognisable as a Duster and almost precisely the same modest size as before.

You can still buy a Duster for less than £10,000 too, even if the actual price is now £9,995 - a rise of £500 - and you still don't get a radio.

Hardly anyone buys the bargain basement version, most people opting for one of the posher of four Dusters on offer. No surprise, really, when even the dearest costs from a modest £14,695.

Indeed, without adding any extras (of which there aren't many and they're inexpensive anyway) the most you can pay for the latest Duster is £18,695. And that will give you a four-wheel drive machine capable of embarrassing cars many times its price off road.

Most Dacia Duster drivers will stick to a cheaper front-drive model and most of them will be powered by a 1.6 litre 115 horsepower petrol engine (a 1.5 litre diesel with the same output is a substantial £2,000 more).

The interior feels more upmarket than before; hardly the pinnacle of luxury but solidly constructed and practical and with more storage space for the oddments of living. Boot capacity is unchanged and remains more than adequate, and a little smaller in the 4x4.

Dacia says more sound insulation and thicker front windows have actually halved the cabin noise and attention to the front seats gives the driver more height adjustment, an armrest and variable lumbar support.

Trying out a petrol powered Comfort version the added hush was immediately obvious, with no need to raise voices at a motorway cruising pace.

It was also obvious the Duster is no ground pawing tearaway, preferring coaxing to outright provocation and then capable of making refined progress while a driver appreciates the newly lessened steering effort and passengers notice how the car deals nicely with rougher road surfaces.

Notable fittings in the Comfort spec'd Duster include an easily read satellite navigation system, trip computer, heated and electrically adjusted door mirrors, electric windows all round, rear camera, air conditioning and alloy wheels.

FAST FACTS

Dacia Duster Comfort SCe 115 4x2

Price: £13,395

Mechanical: 113bhp, 1,598cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-spd gearbox

Max Speed: 107mph

0-62mph: 11.9secs

Combined MPG: 43.5

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 149g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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