What's the used Dacia Duster 4x4 like?
So you’re anxious to jump on the SUV bandwagon, but your pockets aren’t deep enough to buy even a used example of most of them, let alone to finance running one. If only, you might be thinking, there was a car that combined the best of those SUV qualities – practicality, flexibility and rugged looks – with the lower purchase price of a small family car.
Well there is. It’s the Dacia Duster. Bought new, this Nissan Qashqai-sized SUV will set you back no more than a Fiat Panda. And you can pick up a five-year-old example now for under £5000, which makes it something of a bargain.
The Duster is made out of old Nissan and Renault parts. It’s a five-door, five-seater car with suitably rugged bodywork and a choice of petrol or diesel engines and the option of four-wheel drive. The platform mandates the use of transverse engines, in this case, a 1.2 or 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel. The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine has 123bhp while the bigger capacity 1.6-litre petrol produces a miserly 112bhp and the diesel produces 107bhp.
Predictably, given the price, there's not a great deal of equipment on the basic Duster models - but you do get power steering and remote central locking. Opting for the Access trim gets a bit more equipment, mainly in the shape of bigger steel wheels, electric front windows and height-adjustable rear headrests. Move up to mid-spec Ambiance trims and suddenly the Duster gets a lot more modern, with kit including fog lights, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, while the Ambiance Prime spec added a bit more luxury, including an exclusive metallic paint job and 16in alloy wheels.
The range-topping trims - Laureate and Prestige - both offer 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, and convenience lights throughout the interior as standard, while the latter also includes a 7in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and traffic updates, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors within the package.
On the road, none of these engine options are particularly fast, nor especially refined, and the ride and handling are distinctly old-fashioned. The diesel-engined version is reasonably economical, but neither of the two petrol options are outstandingly frugal.
So buying a Duster requires some compromises. Its interior is a little rough and ready and although there’s plenty of space inside it’s not a particularly pleasant place to be. It’s not as good dynamically as just about all of its more expensive rivals, either, but none of them can match its throwaway price. For cash-strapped families, the Duster offers an option like no other.
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