2013 Dacia Duster Black Edition review

* Most expensive Duster driven in UK * Cosmetic upgrades add 5885 to price * On sale now, priced from 17,480...

2013 Dacia Duster Black Edition review

When the Dacia Duster first appeared in the UK, it wasn't just the cheapest new car with four-wheel drive, it was one of the cheapest new cars full stop.

However, after creating a Black Edition concept car to celebrate the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Dacia has now decided to offer these additions to its production models in the form of a rather expensive upgrade.

Making your Duster either an Ambiance or Laureate-spec model look like the Goodwood show car will cost you a whopping 5885, and that means your total spend will be at least 17,480.

That extra cash gets you a matt black vinyl wrap over the bodywork, a leather interior, 18-inch alloys and an integrated infotainment system with sat-nav, a DAB radio and Bluetooth.

The Black Edition pack is available on both two- and four-wheel-drive models.

What's the 2013 Dacia Duster Black Edition like to drive?
The Black Edition pack is available only in combination with the 1.5-litre diesel models, and that's no bad thing because this engine is better suited to the Duster than the entry-level 1.6 petrol.

The 107bhp diesel engine pulls strongly enough at low speeds, but it runs out of puff fairly quickly. So, while the Duster is perfectly capable of keeping pace with traffic, overtaking anything at speed means you need to be careful with your gear selection.

Cheaper versions of the Duster get 16-inch wheels which provide a reasonable ride but the 18-inch alloys on the Black Edition make things unsettled around town, while bumps send jolts through the cabin at higher speeds.

The bigger wheels don't improve the handling either the steering is too slow and weights up inconsistently when you're pressing on. There's also a considerable amount of sway through corners, too.

The Duster Black Edition isn't as refined as similarly priced rivals, either. The bluff nose and big door mirrors generate lots of wind noise, while the shortage of sound deadening does little to keep noise from filtering into the cabin.

What's the 2013 Dacia Duster Black Edition like inside?
The dashboard is uncluttered and fairly smart, but like all Dusters, the Black Edition doesn't feel particularly special inside. The Black Edition pack adds leather upholstery, but in Ambiance specification it still misses out on the gloss black trim, chrome accents and leather-trimmed steering wheel you have to upgrade the Laureate trim to get these things.

Interior space is one of the Duster's biggest strengths. Four adults can fit comfortably and if you choose a two-wheel-drive version the 475-litre boot is significantly bigger than most rivals'.

The four-wheel-drive car has a full-sized spare wheel, so boot capacity is reduced to 408 litres, but this is still competitive against both the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti.

All versions of the Black Edition have split-folding rear seats, giving a maximum load capacity of 1570 litres (four-wheel drive) or 1636 litres (two-wheel drive). It's just a shame the seats don't completely fold flat.

What's harder to overlook is the shortage of equipment on Ambiance specification cars. This trim includes a height-adjustable driver's seat, a CD player with aux-in and USB inputs and Bluetooth, but not much else.

You have to upgrade to Laureate trim to get air-conditioning, rear electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, and even a multi-function trip computer this pushes the price up to 19,080. Stability control isn't standard on any trim and costs another 350.

The final frustration in the cabin is the infotainment system. It's nowhere near as user-friendly as Dacia's own system in the Sandero supermini, so it's a shame this couldn't be carried across as part of the package.

Should I buy one?
The Dacia Duster's biggest appeal is its price, so a near-6000 cosmetic and kit upgrade is hard to recommend.

Dacia believes that most buyers choosing the Black Edition pack will already be considering the range-topping Laureate model as the 'base' car, but even so, a potential price of more than 19,000 is a world away from the Duster's bargain-basement roots.

If you don't need quite as much space, and don't care about a leather interior, a mid-spec Renault Captur is a more stylish choice and comes similarly well-equipped for 2500 less.

Alternatively, the Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 110 SE Plus offers a comparable amount of space and practicality to the Duster, but it's far better to drive and comes with more safety kit for 19,450.

The Dacia Duster represents excellent value in the standard specifications, then, but spending so much to alter its appearance by choosing the Black Edition pack completely defeats the point.

What Car? says...

Nissan Qashqai
Skoda Yeti

Read the full Dacia Duster review >>

Read the Dacia Duster review for parents at Mumsnet Cars >>

Specification Ambiance dCi 110 4x4 Black Edition
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from 19,580
Power 107bhp
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 12.5 seconds
Top speed 104mph
Fuel economy 53.3mpg
CO2 137g/km

By Ed Callow