Cleaner Duster from

Dacia

Dacia Duster, 2021, off road, front
Dacia Duster, 2021, off road, side
Dacia Duster, 2021, off road, rear
Dacia Duster, 2021, front
Dacia Duster, 2021, side
Dacia Duster, 2021, rear
Dacia Duster, 2021, boot
Dacia Duster, 2021, interior
Dacia Duster, 2021, dashboard
Dacia Duster, 2021, LPG fuel tank
Dacia Duster, 2021, LPG selector button
Dacia Duster, 2021, Bi-Fuel fillers
Dacia Duster, 2021, centre console, open
Dacia Duster, 2021, rear seats
Dacia Duster, 2021, centre console
Dacia Duster, 2021, EDC gear lever and console

A FRESH feel is coming to the Dacia Duster as the bargain-basement SUV gets a mid-life makeover.

Interior updates are part of the package as is the introduction of a semi-automatic gearbox on higher powered petrol models.

And on Bi-Fuel versions - which run on LPG and petrol - there is an increase in the capacity of the gas tank which takes overall range to almost 800 miles.

Prices now start from £13,995 and while that is an increase of more than £2,000 over the current entry level, the Duster remains Britain's cheapest full-size SUV and still represents terrific value for money.

The new 14 model line up will top out at £20,845 for a diesel-powered 4x4 version while the EDC auto version can be had from £18,845 and the Bi-Fuel option is priced to match its petrol only counterparts.

Dacia is the only car brand to offer factory-fitted LPG options in its range and it gives the Romanian manufacturer - part of the Renault group - quite an edge when it comes to value for money.

Not only do the petrol/gas versions cost the same as the TCe 90 petrol-only models - which mean they can be had from £13,995 - they also offer a full-tank range of up to 767 miles and that's more than you can expect in any other Duster - even the diesels.

For those who need to cover long distances and with LPG costing roughly half the price of petrol the Bi-Fuel model is a compelling alternative.

We have just tried the new Duster on a driving day in France which took in road routes and a technical off-road course and all impressed.

The cars sampled were in top grade Prestige trim where the Bi-Fuel is priced from £16,695, the EDC automatic with its 150ps TCe engine at £20,045 and the 115ps Blue dCi diesel in 4x4 guise at £20,845.

Range topping models they may be but at those prices they represent terrific value for money - sensibly equipped with minimal frills.

Inside, they come with new-look upholstery, more ergonomic seat designs and the cabin is now fitted with a high centre console between the front seats that offers 1.1-litres of stowage space beneath a sliding armrest that is movable through 70mm.

An eight-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash is standard and on the cars we tried came with Dacia's Media Nav system which includes sat nav, Wi-Fi connectivity and full smartphone compatibility.

There is nothing cheap or tacky about the trim and on the 4x4 diesels there is an on-screen display which includes an altimeter, inclinometer and a compass.

Other driving aids include blind spot monitors, parking sensors and a multiview camera system which shows what is happening at the front, sides and to the rear of the car.

Off-road models are also fitted with hill descent control and with a ground clearance of some 8.5 inches it is a capable performer, towing loads up to 1.5 tonnes and negotiating obstacles with ease.

Although there is no low ratio gear facility the 4x4 is manual only with a six-speed box but that should be enough for most conditions.

The EDC automatic transmission is available only on front wheel drive versions and suits the Duster nicely. The shifts are smooth and precise and can be used selectively if wanted although there is not an option for paddle shifters.

It is priced from £18,845 in mid-grade Comfort specification and with a four-cylinder 1.3-litre petrol engine is the quickest of the Duster line up at 9.7 seconds 0 to 62mph and a top speed of 124mph.

Fuel economy is rated at 44.8mpg which is only a fraction less than that of the 130ps petrol engine with emissions of 142g/km while the diesel 4x4 comes in at 53.3mpg with a CO2 figure of 139g/km.

However, the eco star of the new range has to be the Bi-Fuel model, with its single tank range in excess of 750 miles.

With its 1.0-litre three pot engine factory converted to run on both petrol and LPG it now has two 50 litre fuel tanks with the gas tank fitted in the boot in place of the spare wheel.

Switching from one fuel source to another is done at the push of a button and the effect on the feel of the car is unnoticeable.

Performance data for the Bi-Fuel is a top speed of 104mph and an acceleration time of 13.8 seconds on gas or 15.1 seconds on petrol and official fuel returns of 44.1 on petrol and 40.9 for gas.

Dacia says that while running on LPG the Duster emits 9.5 per cent less CO2 than when on petrol (126g/km on gas and 144g/km on petrol) and with the LPG tank now increased in size, the overall range has risen by 155 miles.

On paper that means you could travel from London to Turin without having to refuel and there is no impact on luggage capacity either with the Bi-Fuel having the same 478 litre boot as any other petrol-powered version.

And any confusion over exactly what sort of economy you are achieving in the Bi-Fuel can be overcome via the Duster's trip computer which has a specific display to give information on overall average consumption as well as individual readouts.

We averaged 39 to the gallon in our drive in the Bi-Fuel Duster and that was almost identical to the figure we achieved in the EDC version - so no complaints from either.

As Dacia goes about overhauling its corporate image within the Renault group, the Duster is joining the smaller Sandero hatchback and Sandero Stepway with upmarket tweaks and styling changes including new-look Y-design light clusters and a chromed radiator grille - all changes that keep it at the top of the tree when it comes to value for money motoring.

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