With a ten fold sales multiple since 2004, Dacia continues to gain market share and now with its latest model it can shed the low cost moniker. This is needed to enter the ultra-competitive SUV sector because even if with a relatively low base price of €11,900 compared to the competition, the Duster isn’t really in the category of inexpensive vehicles.
In total, some 290 million Euros has been invested in the development of the Duster project; which results in a robust, reliable and easy to use 4X4…this SUV is for those who have a daily need for a car capable of taking on rough and tumble terrain….this is in fact the reincarnation of the Lada Niva with more goodies and more importantly; global aspirations.
The Duster is unique, thanks in large part to the twin headlights and wide and rounded wheel arches, which add to its robust look. However, this cannot be said for the front bumper, while imposing and built for obstacles it is exposed to possible front end contact.
The Duster is built on the same platform as the Logan and Dacia has raised the ride height 210mm, and shortened the overhang.
The two-wheel drive, 85 brake horsepower 1.6-litre diesel engine version has plenty of get up due in large part to a very reasonable weight of just 1160 kilograms…Thanks to a nicely controlled chassis roll the Duster offers a comfortable ride on the tarmac. So sane is its temperament you can even permit yourself to have a bit of fun with it.
As has become the norm, in order to offer an attractive purchase price, Dacia has borrowed from other members of the Renault Group but also comes with few interior frills. On the standard version, for example, the exterior rear view mirror is adjusted manually.
Thankfully, more elaborate packages can be had to improve life aboard.
The 4X4 version comes with a six-speed transmission and a very short first gear. While not being off-road experts we needed the assistance of a monitor who helped us as we took on some obstacles.
We found the petrol two-wheel 1.6-litre version also easy to drive on the dirt. And here, where a sedan would be bouncing all over the place, the Duster takes on all the irregularities with the greatest of ease and no obstacle is out of its reach.
To sum up, no matter the version or power plant, the Dacia Duster is an all-terrain vehicle for the masses. Well designed, respectful to the environment, easy to get sorted out and with no real competitor, it has more than a few arguments in its favour. We cannot see how it won’t meet its goal of becoming a global success.