Fresh feel to Dacia

Duster

Dacia Duster, 2022, front
Dacia Duster, 2022, nose
Dacia Duster, 2022, side
Dacia Duster, 2022, rear
Dacia Duster, 2022, tail
Dacia Duster, 2022, interior
Dacia Duster, 2022, rear seats
Dacia Duster, 2022, boot

DACIA has given its value-for-money Duster SUV model a refresh and it also gains a new look and lots of extra tech.

With prices ranging from £13,995 to £20,845, the five-door Duster line-up is on sale in three trim levels called Essential, Comfort and Prestige with the addition of a limited-run Extreme model.

There's a choice from efficient petrol, diesel and bi-fuel engines with manual or auto gearboxes, plus the option of 2WD or 4WD.

The new-look Duster boasts a more distinctive appearance with Y-shaped daytime running lights, a 3D effect chrome grille with new badging, upgraded alloy wheels, fresh paint colours and an improved interior.

We opted for the Dacia Duster 1.3-litre TCe petrol model in Comfort trim level with a six-speed automatic gearbox and two-wheel drive.

It cost £18,845, although it also included the only two optional extras available as Dacia likes to keep its pricing structure as simple as possible.

The options were a spare wheel and metallic paint which bumped the final price up to £19,690.

The punchy petrol engine delivered 110hp and 250Nm of torque which resulted in a 0-62mph sprint time of 9.7 seconds and maximum speed of 124mph. According to official figures, the car could deliver a combined44.8mpg with carbon emissions of 142g/km.

The automatic gearbox proved nice and smooth and, although there are no paddles to change gear manually, the driver can use the gear shift to do so.

There is an Eco mode, but don't expect to see anything flashy such as Dynamic or Sport settings. This is a bargain basement car without any extra expensive add-ons.

The acceleration is quite punchy with ample power on tap, and the steering has been reconfigured for extra precision at speeds above 43mph. It is still nice and light though in busier town centres with a good turning lock for ease of manoeuvrability.

The Duster is nicely balanced through bends if driven with a fair degree of respect and the cabin is actually well refined with little road surface or wind noise filtering through until you hit 60-plus mph.

From the outside, the latest Duster has a more stylish and distinctive appearance and the designers have paid attention to the interior too with improved materials, extra tech and more storage options, including a 1.1-litre central cubby box beneath a sliding front armrest.

Creature comforts are plentiful with full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a DAB radio, eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, climate control, a six-speaker sound system and four USB charge ports - two front and two rear.

Comfort levels are high and although three adults could squeeze into the back of the Duster, two would definitely sit more comfortably - especially if the front seats are not pushed right back.

The boot can swallow 478 litres of luggage, increasing to a capacity of 1,623 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down. This limit range is slightly less on the 4x4 versions which can accommodate from 467 to 1,614 litres.

There are a number of convenient storage compartments with an illuminated glovebox, door bins, a central cubby box, seat back pockets and a handy tray. However, the shallow and small cup holders have not been designed with carrying hot drinks in mind as they would almost certainly topple over at the slightest turn of the wheel.

Another area where the budget-priced Duster still falls a little short is safety as many rivals feature automatic emergency braking as standard these days. Unfortunately, it's not even available on the highest Duster trim levels and is part of the reason the car only achieved a three out of five star safety rating when tested by Euro NCAP.

On a plus point though, the latest car is a delight to drive and although it no longer dips in at under £10,000, the design, build quality and level of on-board technology has vastly improved over the years.

And since launching in the UK in 2013, the Duster has built up an enviable reputation for reliability along the way.

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