Test – The Dacia Duster is just okay. And that’s good enough…

How much suv does a person need? Dacia has been formulating a succinct answer to that question since 2010 with the Dacia Duster. The interim update of the current generation does not change that. And that’s exactly how we want it…

How often do you read or hear about Dacia? Not often. The Romanian budget brand is not exciting. Not sexy. It builds solid, simple and affordable cars with Renault technology. And Dacia does that well. The new Sandero is the best-selling car in Europe, beating calibrated models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo. But in the Euro top ten there is another Dacia: the second generation Dacia Duster, which has recently had a facelift.

It has little to do with appearance. There are new headlamps (with LED technology for the daytime running lights), a slightly redesigned grille and taillights with a ‘Y’ of LEDs. Dacia is also introducing an extra color for the Duster: Orange Arizona. A shade that we can hardly distinguish from the already available orange, but which nevertheless looks excellent on the sturdy SUV.

Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...
Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...

Dacia Duster finally available with petrol engine and automatic transmission

The biggest changes to the Duster have to do with the drivetrain. The model is now finally available with the combination petrol engine and automatic transmission. That means that you can rest your right arm in the 150 hp version from now on, because the EDC gearbox with double clutch takes over the helm for you. And the transmission does that more than excellently. Nothing to note. Douze points from The Netherlands.

It is also striking that the best-selling version of the Duster in the Netherlands – the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel – now has a 50 percent larger LPG tank. The usable volume goes from 33.6 liters to 48.8 liters, which equates to approximately 250 kilometers more range. According to Dacia, this brings the total range of the Duster TCe 100 Bi-Fuel to 1,235 kilometers. Although the majority of LPG drivers would rather not use their petrol tank, of course.

Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...
Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...

The TCe 100 three-cylinder on LPG, in your opinion, lacks power

The 150 hp four-cylinder TCe 150 EDC is a delight, with its abundance of power and its exemplary shifting automatic transmission. In the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel – a three-cylinder engine – we sometimes had the feeling that we lacked power. If you drive on petrol, you have to do your best to get to 100 km/h in 15 seconds. On LGP it goes almost 1.5 seconds faster. Fortunately, keeping the 999 cc turbo engine up to speed is not a punishment. Its six-speed manual transmission shifts nicely.

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Both engines run smoothly and are pleasantly quiet. The noise that predominates on board the Duster comes from the tires and the wind. Furthermore, the Dacia steers neatly, with an electric power steering that is so light that you can not speak of contact between your hands and the front wheels. The Duster is comfortable and keeps its course nicely on the highway. On the other hand, the SUV leans quite a bit in bends and is searchy on bad roads.

Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...
Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...

The Duster is a C-segment SUV for a B-segment price

The Duster is a C-segment SUV for a B-segment price. To stay within the stable of the Renault group for comparison: the smaller Renault Captur is available from 25,090 euros, for the almost equally large Kadjar you have to pay at least 29,790 euros. The fact that the Duster starts under 20,000 euros is therefore the best unique selling point of the model.

Its luggage capacity of 478 to 1623 liters is larger than that of the Kadjar (472 to 1478 liters). In terms of interior space, the Dacia and Renault do not differ much. Even someone 1.90 meters tall has little to complain about in the back seat of the Duster. Although you have to sit with your head slightly tilted, otherwise you will bump it against the thick roof beam above the door opening.

Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...
Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...

As a taller driver, you sit fine in the front. We deliberately do not write ‘good’, because it is a challenge to find a comfortable seating position. The handlebars can be adjusted longitudinally, but just not enough, as far as we’re concerned. The seats are only okay, with their thin cushions and a noticeable lack of support.

After all, a favorable price tag must come from the length or the width. You don’t just see it, you hear it and you feel it. The dashboard of the Duster is plastic, the multimedia system is a generation (or two) behind and the EDC automatic makes an audible noise in the city when downshifting. Is that cheap? Yes. Is that bad? New. Because the Duster is just so sober and functional.

Test - The Dacia Duster is just okay.  And that's good enough...

Conclusion

Dacia is a sympathetic brand that secretly achieves enormous successes as an underdog. And that reflects on the Duster. I can only appreciate the tough looking SUV. He does what he has to do and he does it well. Do you need more car than the Duster? New! But if you want that anyway, you pay for it. Several thousand euros more, in most cases.

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