Duster drivers are a hardy bunch. There’s a 2013-reg 1.6i Access in white, the most basic run-of-the-mill version you can buy, that’s done 141,000 miles, has had two owners and is being advertised for £2499. Think about it: two individuals have happily clocked up 70,000 miles apiece in this car, a vehicle so basic it doesn’t even have a radio.
We’re talking about the Duster Mk1, by the way, the model that ran from 2012 to 2018 and which shook up the market with its low prices. For example, new in 2012, that 1.6i Access – the engine produces a paltry 103bhp – was just £8995.
That got you a roomy, genuinely family-sized SUV with a big boot, good visibility and rugged looks. Most versions had roof bars, too. Spend a bit more and you could have it with a frugal 108bhp 1.5 dCi diesel engine, four-wheel drive and more kit, culminating in Laureate and, later, Prestige trims with alloys, cruise control, electric windows, heated door mirrors and air-con.
Our choice, though, would be mid-spec Ambiance with its stereo, body-coloured bumpers (Access’s black affairs feel like one sacrifice too many) and 60/40 splitting and folding rear seats. It lacks Laureate’s creature comforts but is more honest, without slumming it.
With low new prices, of course, came a low level of sophistication. The ride, refinement and handling are all below par but worst of all is the model’s poor showing in the Euro NCAP crash tests: just three stars, m’lud. Even so, all versions have anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Assist, electronic stability control and traction control, tyre pressure monitoring and four air bags.
In 2014 the model gained a new grille with squarer headlights and smarter upholstery. The following year the 1.2 TCe petrol engine, related to the Nissan Micra’s 1.2 DiG-T unit, joined the line-up with a competitive 123bhp and low emissions. It was reserved for top-spec Laureate trim. Meanwhile, for lower-spec trims, the Euro 6-compliant 115bhp 1.6 SCe replaced the ageing 1.6i. It’s a good engine: torquey and with reasonably low emissions.