Sunday Express

Bi-fuel Duster set to clean-up


ITWAS an early example of how the motorist can be shafted by government. In the late ’90s the government of the day got behind the use of LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) as a cleaner alternativ­e fuel and offered something called a Powershift grant of £1,000 towards the cost of a conversion (which typically cost between £1,500 and £2,500).Then in 2005 the government abandoned the scheme and that was that.

Except that LPG still has a strong following and although there are only

1,200 service stations that sell the fuel, it isn’t too difficult to find. On mainland Europe it’s commonplac­e.

There are many, despite the government’s abandoning of the fuel, who are still big fans and supporters of Lpg.they’ll be very interested in the car that we’re testing this week – a Dacia Duster bi-fuel, a version of the terrific-value SUV that is able to run both on petrol and LPG.

Dacia is also importing bi-fuel versions of its Sandero hatchback and Logan estate. We’re testing the Duster because I reckon it’s the best car that Dacia makes and also one of the great motoring bargains.

All of the Lpg-burning Dacias use the 1.0-litre three-cylinder TCE turbocharg­ed motor which produces 100bhp.

Now to the gas bit. In place of where the spare wheel usually lives in the Duster is a 34-litre tank that holds the LPG.

This tank is six times thicker than a petrol tank so don’t worry about it leaking. One

TDacia Duster SE Twenty Bi-fuel Now £15,345 Petrol – 1.0 100bhp 0 to 62mph in 14.4 seconds (13.8sec LPG), 133mph top speed snag, though, you won’t be allowed through the Channel Tunnel in the car. No problem for me as I don’t like the tunnel and always cross by ferry. Dacia reckons by using LPG you’ll save on average around £594 per year on fuel, with LPG (also called Autogas) being about 40 per cent cheaper than petrol.

HE OTHER advantage is that LPG is cleaner as it produces 11 per cent less CO2. So what’s it like driving the bi-fuel Duster? Pretty unremarkab­le actually, in a good way.the engine always starts on petrol, but once it’s running you can switch it on to gas by pressing a button on the right of the dashboard.

A cheap-looking button that looks like it’s part of an after-market kit, not a proper factory conversion, but never mind.

The engine, while being cleaner on LPG, actually produces more torque – 125lb ft versus 11lb ft – running on petrol and the 0-62mph time drops from 14.4sec on petrol to 13.8sec on can’t feel any difference while running on LPG and neither can you detect a change in behaviour as you switch between fuels.

Total extra weight of the tank and other components is 62kg but you can’t feel that extra bulk in the car: it drives exactly like a regular Duster. Sounds the same, rides the same, corners the same. LPG has a lower calorific value than petrol so you use more of it.average fuel consumptio­n on petrol is 44.1mpg and on LPG is 35.3mpg which, according to Dacia, gives you an average consumptio­n using both fuels of around 40mpg.

You can’t fault their maths.a great bonus with this dual-fuel Duster is that it has a range of 620 miles before you have to stop and fill up. Of course you’ll need to fill at two pumps but filling with LPG is very straightfo­rward and takes no more time than putting petrol in.

A sound strategy would be to always use LPG in town, as it produces less NOX than petrol, then switch to petrol on a long run.

Our test car is a special edition SE Twenty but you can have the Bi-fuel powertrain in any trim except the ultra-basic Access spec.

As a rule, choosing to go bi-fuel will cost around £300-£400 more than a single-fuel Duster. Bear in mind the savings in fuel costs already mentioned and that premium would be earned back in less than a year.

As well as only coming with the one-litre engine, the Bi-fuel option is only available in two-wheel-drive Dusters.

List price of our car is £15,345 which, considerin­g this is almost the poshest spec you can buy, is astonishin­gly good value.

In Italy, where autogas is hugely popular, one in four Dusters sold are Bi-fuel.we won’t see a ratio like that in the UK but I think many people will have a serious look at this interestin­g, and affordable, option. 44.1mpg 145g/km (129g/ km LPG)



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