The Dacia Duster is a rough and ready SUV that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg. As Si­mon Davis finds out, it’s also rather like­able – and it’s sell­ing very well...

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY SI­MON DAVIS


Since its launch back in 2010, the Dacia Duster has been mak­ing some­thing of a name for it­self as a bar­gain base­ment com­pact SUV. For the 2017 model year, the Ro­ma­nian man­u­fac­turer has added a new top-of-the-line trim level - known as Pres­tige - as well as the new 1.2-litre, tur­bocharged four-cylin­der petrol en­gine, which we tested on our mid-range Lau­re­ate-spec­i­fi­ca­tion car.


The Dacia Duster has al­ways been an in­cred­i­bly util­i­tar­ian-look­ing car. Its no-non­sense ex­te­rior is com­pletely de­void of any chintzy de­tail­ing or over-the-top styling cues. While this might sound like a recipe for a rather dull-look­ing car, in re­al­ity the op­po­site car­ries more sway.

The Duster is a rather hand­some thing, and a hand­ful of very sub­tle updates on the 2017 model year ver­sion, such as squarer head­lights and a re­vised front bumper, help keep the car look­ing fresh. Dacia has also in­tro­duced a num­ber of op­tional styling fea­tures to the Duster range that will al­low cus­tomers to add that lit­tle bit some­thing ex­tra to their ve­hi­cle. These in­clude new 16-inch Ty­rol al­loys, a Pen­nine Green paint scheme and part-leather up­hol­stery.

Mov­ing into the cabin, the Spar­tan ap­proach to styling con­tin­ues. All of the sur­faces are ei­ther plas­tic or soft-touch plas­tic, but then you wouldn’t re­ally ex­pect lux­u­ri­ous ma­te­ri­als in a car that costs as lit­tle as £9,495. The Duster isn’t the last word in build qual­ity ei­ther, but the cabin’s rough and ready sur­faces should be able to stand up to the most of the abuse family life can throw at them.

So, while the Duster is by no means a car that has been built for pos­ing, its un-as­pi­ra­tional, no-frills na­ture has al­ways been one of the its more en­dear­ing fea­tures.


When you boil it down, the Dacia Duster re­ally does of­fer all the space an av­er­age-sized family re­ally needs. There are five seats, plenty of head­room, a de­cent amount of legroom in the back and a 475-litre boot. With the rear seats folded down, cargo space in the boot is in­creased to 1,636 litres. Thanks to a low boot lip, load­ing and un­load­ing those heav­ier items in and out of the Duster

is made that much eas­ier.

Chil­dren will find the three rear seats more than com­fort­able enough over those longer jour­neys. Two adults won’t have a prob­lem sit­ting in the back of the Duster ei­ther, though a mid­dle seat oc­cu­pant might start to get un­com­fort­able af­ter a while.


Sur­pris­ingly for a car that is so ba­sic, the Duster com­poses it­self rather well on the road. Sure, it has heavy steer­ing and the con­trols don’t feel great or pro­vide a good level of feed­back, yet through the cor­ners there isn’t a huge amount of lean, and its han­dling feels pre­dictable. It rides well over lumps and bumps, and is com­fort­able enough at mo­tor­way speeds.

Our test ve­hi­cle was fit­ted with the new 1.2-litre TCE 125 petrol en­gine, which is good for 123bhp. While the free-revving unit had plenty of grunt to get you up to speed in a fash­ion­able man­ner, we couldn’t help but feel that a diesel en­gine would suit the Dacia’s char­ac­ter bet­ter. While it is more ex­pen­sive to buy, it will cost less to run in the long-term.


If all you’re af­ter is a means of get­ting from A to B, the Duster re­ally is hard to beat. Sure, it’s in­cred­i­bly ba­sic, not ter­ri­bly well equipped and by no means the most ex­cit­ing car to drive, but it does the job of be­ing “a car” rather well. It’s far cheaper than al­ter­na­tives such as a Nis­san Qashqai or Ssangy­ong Tivoli, and with a diesel en­gine, won’t be too ex­pen­sive to run, ei­ther.


If you can get over the fact the Duster car­ries no badge pres­tige what­so­ever, then it makes for quite a ra­tio­nal purchase. It’s cheap, com­fort­able enough, comes with a de­cent amount of boot and in­te­rior space, and with the right en­gine and trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tion, it won’t be too ex­pen­sive to run.

Fam­i­lies look­ing for a ro­bust work­horse for the school run, dash­ing to the shops or even long-dis­tance trav­el­ling will find the Duster an ap­peal­ing propo­si­tion.

DON’T wait for the Jan­uary sales! Cus­tomers quick off the mark can pick up a pre-in­crease bar­gain from Subaru be­tween now and end of year. The Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer has an­nounced an im­pend­ing Jan­uary price in­crease – its first for many many years.

“We’ve held our prices for a con- sider­able num­ber of years now, thanks to keen dealer mar­gins and sup­port from our Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers” said Subaru UK Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Paul Tun­ni­cliffe (pic­tured). “We’re the only brand build­ing our en­tire range in Ja­pan so it’s re­ally quite re­mark­able how well we’ve re­sisted cur­rency and other fluc­tu­a­tions. Most of our com­peti­tors have al­ready had one or more price in­creases in 2016 al­ready, re­luc­tantly we are now forced to fol­low suit.

“Make no mis­take, even af­ter a price in­crease Subaru will still rep­re­sent as­ton­ish­ingly good value. Our flag­ship WRX STI is 300 bhp pow­ered by Boxer en­gine sym­met­ri­cal AWD – yet matches the price of the 2WD Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI and is sig­nif­i­cantly be­low the cost of an ev­ery­day ver­sion of the Ford Fo­cus”.

“Out­back con­tin­ues to win ac­co­lades with its in­dus­try lead­ing Eye­sight tech­nol­ogy. The in­surance in­dus­try love our crash avoid­ance tech­nol­ogy and have been slash­ing pre­mi­ums on Out­back with Eye­sight. Im­por­tantly, it un­der­lines how much safer you and your loved ones are in a Subaru, your safety is no ac­ci­dent with us. Subarus are en­gi­neered from the chas­sis up­wards, we de­mand class-lead­ing safety and sta­bil­ity, and en­gi­neer steel beams into the front and rear doors of all our cars to pro­tect oc­cu­pants from side-on col­li­sions. There’s a lot go­ing on be­neath the skin – to avoid ac­ci­dents, and to max­imise your loved ones’ safety.

“AWD is not just for win­ter driv­ing, far from it. Given the amount of farm and diesel spills on North­ern Ire­land’s roads, au­tumn leaf falls, grit, stand­ing pud­dles and even oc­ca­sional ice and slush it’s a full time job stay­ing safe on the roads. Subaru AWD de­liv­ers. Imag­ine a two-legged cof­fee ta­ble? How bad would that be? Only Subaru have all four wheels firmly grip­ping the road at all times. Many com­peti­tors of­fer in­fe­rior vari­a­tions and per­mu­ta­tions of AWD, but no­body else per­ma­nently grips the road at each corner from just £17495 OTR de­liv­ered in North­ern Ire­land.

“Cus­tomers or­der­ing now from avail­able stock for Jan­uary reg­is­tra­tion are fully price pro­tected, af­ter that we can­not prom­ise to avoid the in­crease,” said Tun­ni­cliffe. “We have lim­ited phys­i­cal stock af­ter which in­creases will be in­evitable. It re­ally is a case of ‘act­ing now’ if you are able to. Con­sid­er­ing most Subaru own­ers keep their cars 10 years or more and 99% of all Subarus ever built are still on the road world­wide, then prices tend to bal­ance out over time. But we all love get­ting a bar­gain and pay­ing less than our neigh­bour so best act now to be a Subaru win­ner. Subaru in­vented AWD for cars. Don’t set­tle for less, only with Subaru will you get Boxer en­gined AWD and WRC Her­itage – why would you choose sec­ond best?”

Paul Tun­ni­cliffe, Subaru UK Man­u­fac­tur­ing Di­rec­tor

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