Dacia Duster long-term test review
The new Dacia Duster is our favourite family SUV in the lowest price point. So, does it exceed expectations of a £15k car?...
- The car: Dacia Duster TCe 130 4x2 Comfort
- Run by: Kris Culmer, sub-editor
- Why it’s here: To prove that you need spend no more than £15,000 to get a genuinely practical and pleasant-to-drive family SUV
- Needs to: Intelligently offset the aspects that are inferior to the equivalents of pricier rivals by being up to scratch mechanically and dynamically, comfortable and respectable inside
Price £14,395 Price as tested £15,040 Mileage 4775 Official fuel economy 41.5mpg (WLTP) Test economy 42.8mpg Options Desert Orange metallic paint (£495), spare wheel (£150)
12 June – On your bike, son
The Dacia Duster certainly projects an image of its driver’s intentions as well as their economic standing. From the roofrails and the fake air vents and skidplates to promotional photographs taken in Iceland, it’s meant as a car for the outdoorsman.
I am no such thing. I can’t think of many pursuits worse than Dacia's illustrated rock climbing, tenting or – most of all – open-water swimming. However, I do like cycling. So when the sun came out, I thought I would drive into the Duster dream – even though my car is front-wheel drive (or a 4x2, as it’s neatly named).
I’ve had trouble when attempting to load my mountain bike in smaller SUVs, such as my old Seat Arona, because their boots are deceivingly small and surrounded by nice, shiny paint that’s very easily chipped by a metal pedal. The Duster, in contrast, has plastic cladding over its rear bumper.
What's more, its boot is a consistent square shape and has a high roof. All in all, it measures an impressive 1623 litres once the parcel shelf is swiftly removed and you’ve folded the 60/40-split rear seats down. This is a job that’s easily done from the side doors by pulling levers.
There are no fancy lashing points, rails or the like, and I did have to remove my bike’s 29in front wheel to get it in. But that’s by no measure a hardship, and I note that no other new car costing £15,000 is anywhere newer large enough to accommodate my bike even after a temporary amputation. What’s more, my girlfriend’s slightly smaller bike slid in on top with centimetres to spare.
If you want to bring your children along for the ride too, a bike rack for the tailgate or roof would be required. There is the unusual bonus that roof rails for affixing the latter are fitted to the Duster as standard, although you will need to add cross bars for £94.
If you don’t back yourself to do an overhead lift with a bike, you could follow the example of Mitch McCabe, our head of video. Until recently he was writing about a diesel-engined Duster for our sister title, Autocar; a much keener cyclist than me (as in he does quadruple the mileage and doesn’t stop for a halfway pint), he had his car fitted with a towbar (£345) in order to mount the three-bike rack (£410) from Dacia’s dealer-fit accessories brochure.
Apart from some issues related to the injection system for AdBlue (an additive that’s used in modern diesel engines to reduce NOx emissions), Mitch very much enjoyed his time Dusting. However, he did share some annoyances that were rather familiar, namely some very hard plastic on the door that deters you from driving Route 66-style, or even with your arm resting on the door’s middle shelf, and the fact that our left feet are too big to rest beside the clutch pedal without catching it on the way down.
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