Duster Laureate 1.5 dCi 4x4
Dacia Duster is cleaning
up in the budget-buy SUV market.
Thanks to its value-for-money
become a huge sales
hit with European customers.
Have you tried one yet?
LAUNCHED IN THE UK in July 2012 at the high-profile Goodwood Festival of
Speed, customer deliveries began in January 2013. To date, over 32,000 cars
have found UK homes; 23,862 of them last year in 2014. That's an amazing near-40%
increase over its previous first year on sale. All Dacia models are sold and
serviced through Renault's 130 UK dealerships.
Today the Dacia range consists of the Duster five-door, two- and four-wheel
drive SUV/crossovers, the Sandero and Sandero Stepway Supermini five-door hatchbacks,
and the Logan MCV Estate. Dacia says these are all available at 'shockingly
affordable' prices but add just don't confuse 'value' with 'cheap'.
The rapid rise of UK sales volumes proves there is an eager buying public out
there who know a bargain when they see one.
latest 2015 model year Duster five-door family-sized SUV range prices start
at just £9,495 for a 2WD model and £11,495 for a 4WD version. There is the choice
of 1.6-litre 103bhp petrol and 1.5-litre dCi 105bhp (2WD) and 107bhp (4WD) turbodiesels.
Both engines offer the options of 2WD or 4WD models. The petrol model is only
available with the cheapest Access trim while the diesel-engined versions are
available in Ambiance and Laureate specification.
Dacias are available
at shockingly affordable
just dont confuse value
The rapid rise of UK sales volumes proves there is an eager buying public
out there who
know a bargain when
they see one...
The most expensive version in the budget range is the 1.5 dCi Laureate 4WD,
priced at £15,495. If 2WD is all you want then the price is £13,495 for the
same top level of trim with the 105bhp turbodiesel engine. More good news: there
are no shocks in store for insurance costs: petrol models are rated 5/6E; diesel
versions fall into groups 10/11E.
Before I get to the product, what about the brand? One of the questions we all
ask ourselves is: How can Dacia models be so much cheaper than other brands?
A significant part of the answer is that their models, like the Duster, have
a 50% carry-over of components shared with other Dacia and Renault vehicles.
Neither is there a baffling options list, plus there's a simple choice of colours
and accessory packs to keep production line complexity low so allowing cost
savings to be passed onto customers. There is also no haggling at dealers
the price you see is the price you pay so none of the argy-bargy
discounting that only harms residual values.
Another question: Are they reliable and safe? There's no worry about the warranty
cover you get a three-year/60,000-mile mechanical warranty, two-year
paint warranty, and six-year anti-corrosion cover. There are also five- and
seven-year extended warranties available at extra cost.
Dacia Assistance (through the AA Recovery Service) is three-years/60,000-miles
and included as standard. Servicing is the usual one-year or 12,000-miles period.
As for safety, officially Dusters have a Euro NCAP three-star rating but UK
versions have added safety features which if they had been tested would given
them a four-star rating.
what do we get for our money? All three specification levels Access,
Ambiance and Laureate benefit from a package of styling and trim
upgrades for the 2015 model year. There's a more stylish chrome front grille
surrounding the Dacia logo, 'Duster' branded roof bars (chromed on Laureate),
and a high-quality black tailgate trim with 'Duster' branding above the number
The transmission has
three modes: 2WD; Auto,
(the rear wheels provide
drive as and when the
front wheels loose
traction); and 4WD Lock
which locks-in the rear
wheels for permanent all-
wheel drive for off-road
use and low-speed on-
road travel in snow...
Laureate versions have new Tyrol 16-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles
and dark metal door mirror casings. Five new metallic colours (Mercury, Khaki,
Pearl Black, Slate Grey and Cinnamon) replace the previous choices as alternatives
to solid Glacier White on the Ambiance and Laureate.
There is also new upholstery and seats for every model, and while the emergency
spare wheel remains standard on 4x4 models, it now becomes an option on all
Laureate spec also includes manual air-conditioning, cruise control with speed
limiter, seven-function on-board computer, heated and electrically-adjustable
door mirrors, rear electric windows are added to the standard for all versions'
front electric ones, piano black trim inserts for the interior, and door sill
protection plates. Also included from lower spec versions are 60:40 split folding
rear seats, front electric windows, Bluetooth, remote locking, ECO mode and
gearchange indicator, Isofix child-seat points for the outer rear seats and
automatic door locking.
My test car also had a media-SatNav system which costs an extra £300. Other
additional-cost packs include leather upholstery (£995), protective mouldings
for the sills and wheelarches (£595), a pack to include alarm, rear parking
sensors and a bootliner at £665, and a touring pack which includes a towbar,
transverse roof bars and a front central armrest for £555.
Inside the Duster there is lots of hard textured plastic trim but hard is durable
and the overall design looks quite modern with plenty of storage spaces. The
seats are comfortable with good support and the visibility out of the vehicle
is unobstructed thanks to the large windows.
instruments are generally well arranged although the heater and ventilation
controls are fiddly. It's a roomy vehicle both front and rear with a good-sized
475-litre boot and, which with the rear seats folded down, provides a 1,636-litre
load area. For the record it will also pull a braked 1,500kg.
The 1.5-litre turbodiesel
is a version of the
same unit as used in the
in the Duster 4WD it
delivers a 104mph top
speed, 0-62mph in a
relaxed 12.4 seconds and
the Duster doesn't have the now commonplace sharply creased SUV wedge-shaped
body; it's more rounded with bulbous wheelarches and it looks more workmanlike
that a styling statement.
On the downside, the doors sound a bit tinny when closed firmly; there is significant
wind and road noise intrusion; the heater fan is very loud, as too is the tailgate
window wiper motor. It just lacks a little finesse and in these areas it shows
why it has a budget price.
That said, these minor issues have not put off customer from all over Europe
seeing the advantages the Duster offers. Travel as I do widely through mainland
Europe, I see plenty of these Dusters being used in rural cities, towns and
the countryside they seem to have become the do-it-all vehicle
of choice from family transport to off-roader workhorse to commuter travel.
The 1.5-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine is a version of the same unit used
in the similarly-sized Nissan Qashqai crossover (with only 2WD available for
that model) and the Qashqai is almost £10,000 more expensive.
In the Duster 4WD it produces the same 107bhp with 177lb ft of torque delivered
from 1,750rpm. Top speed is 104mph and nought to 62mph takes a relaxed 12.4
seconds. Officially, this unit will return 53.3mpg in the Combined Cycle
my ten days of test driving resulted in an acceptable average 45.6mpg. With
CO2 emissions of 135g/km, road tax is £130 each and every year.
it's not the quietest or smoothest diesel around, especially from cold start-up,
but it warms to its task. It's responsive in the low- to mid-range but gets
a bit breathless at the top end of its rev-range.
noise intrusion and vibration can be put down to the less sophisticated installation
within the vehicle over the Qashqai, but by no means should it put off cash-conscious
owners wanting a very good value 4x4.
Only at higher speeds
on winding roads can
some body roll be
felt but for the most part
the Dacia 4x4 provides
a comfortable and secure
ride comfortable for
the body and comfortable
on the pocket!
transmission uses a six-speed manual gearbox, with 4WD models having a lower
first gear ratio for better off-road uphill and low-speed downhill control.
This lower first gear ratio helps negate the reason to use a costly and bulky
high/low ratio transfer box.
The transmission has three modes: 2WD; Auto, which allows the rear wheels to
provide drive as and when the front wheels loose traction; and 4WD Lock which
locks-in the rear wheels for permanent all-wheel drive for off-road use and
low speed on-road travel in snow.
handling might not be the sharpest but it's only at higher speeds on winding
roads that some body roll is felt and for the most part it provides a comfortable
and secure ride. So, comfortable for the body and comfortable on the pocket!
the latest Dacia Duster 4WD might not be a state-of-the art 4x4 family-sized
SUV, but in terms of real value for money, interior passenger and load space
and the comprehensive specification, it has the ability to be the class leader,
as its huge sale success is already proving.
What you'll like: Practical and impressive value-for-money family-sized 4x4,
proven Renault-Nissan Alliance technology, comfortable, well equipped, already
a huge budget 4x4 sales success throughout Europe.
While it's a bit less sophisticated in some areas (hard plastic trim, noisy
heater fan and wipers), and there's no five-star safety rating, for the price
and its genuine 4x4 capabilities, who cares?
Dacia Duster Laureate 1.5 dci 4x4
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-62mph: 12.5 seconds | Test Average: 45.6mpg
Power: 107bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 135g/km