Motoring: Duster wipes away the doubters

Eight years on and the sneers at this cheap-as-chips Romanian interloper have been wiped from faces, all thanks to the Duster’s considerable sales success.

The Dacia Duster first arrived in Ireland when we were in the midst of a deep recession, and although it had been launched a few years earlier in Europe and making a nice name for itself, its arrival to these shores provoked an outbreak of snobbishness among some of the Irish press corps.

Eight years on and the sneers at this cheap-as-chips Romanian interloper have been wiped from faces, all thanks to the Duster’s considerable sales success. With more than 14,500 versions of the car having found Irish homes, Dacia has recently introduced a more up-to-date version of the successful SUV.

With more than 1.9 million sold worldwide, the latest version features refreshed rather than major design changes, up-to-date features and new technology. At the same time, it shows the same robustness, Renault input, comfort and value-for-money for which the brand is famed.

Having quickly earned a reputation for delivering all the benefits of an SUV at the cost of a city car or the price of a used car, the latest Duster retains similar principles.

The front adopts the style features of Dacia’s refreshed visual identity first seen on the new Sandero and Sandero Stepway. New light units include Y-shaped daytime running lights, a new shape that also inspired the new 3D chromed radiator grille.

Its new light signature both front and rear always stays on, and the Duster is the first Dacia model to be equipped with front LED direction indicators. This technology is also used for the dipped headlights (with automatic main beam activation as standard) and the number plate lights.

A rear spoiler and new 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels are credited with reducing the car’s aerodynamic and CO2 factors and improving fuel consumption.

Inside, the Duster is equipped with new upholstery, new headrests and a high centre console that offers a wide retracting armrest with 1.1 litres of storage on selected models.

The new Dacia also offers two multimedia systems (media display and media nav) with a new 8-inch touchscreen and two USB charging sockets for rear passengers. Standard equipment includes an onboard computer screen, automatic main beam activation, cruise control and speed limiter with backlit controls on the steering wheel.

Both the front wheel-driven and 4x4 derivatives feature a new type of tyre that is claimed to reduce rolling resistance on two-wheel drive versions and produce better grip on the 4x4 so that winter tyres are no longer necessary

The Duster’s engine range has been completely renewed. The line-up includes a bi-fuel (petrol-LPG) TCe 100bhp (two-wheel drive) mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

A 115bhp dCi diesel (two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive) again with a six-speed manual gearbox and a 150bhp TCe petrol two-wheel drive that features the new EDC (efficient dual clutch) six-speed automatic transmission.

Dacia is the only manufacturer to offer the bi-fuel (petrol-LPG) option across its entire range of internal combustion engine models. The LPG tank is fitted beneath the floor of the boot, in place of the spare wheel.

When running on LPG, the new Duster Bi-Fuel is said to emit on average 9.5 per cent less CO2 than an equivalent petrol engine. In addition, it offers a range of 1,225km thanks to its two tanks that have a combined 50/50 supply of almost 100 litres.

Claimed fuel returns are: LPG/petrol 6.9 l/100km (40mpg), Diesel 4.9l/100km (57mpg) and petrol only 6.3 l/100km (44mpg).

In addition to the cruise control and speed limiter, which is operated from the steering wheel, the new Duster is equipped with the latest-generation ESC (electronic stability control) as standard. There are also other key driver-assistance systems available, such as blind spot warning, park assist, hill start assist, adaptive hill descent control (4x4 version) and a multi-view camera system.

Available in Essential, Comfort and Prestige trim levels, prices for the 11-model range commence at €19,990 for the Essential TCe 100 Bi-Fuel. Diesel prices start at €21,290 for Essential trim while the TCe petrol auto begin at €25,590 in Comfort trim.