From £8,7008

Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The Dacia Duster is lighter than you’d think, with even the diesel model weighing just 1205kg (though this rises to 1294kg with four-wheel drive).

On paper there appears little to tell between petrol and diesel performance but in the real world diesel will likely prove the preferable choice every time - not just because of the extra range and fuel consumption it provides.

It weighs in at 1kg more than the latest Renaultsport Clio

This is not the kind of car you’ll ever be likely to drive to the limit of its performance potential so what matters in every day life is that the engine responds keenly to each press of the pedal, no matter what revs the engine is pulling.

This is territory the ubiquitous Renault/Nissan 1.5-litre diesel knows well. It has excellent low down torque although, even by diesel standards, it gets breathless very quickly at the top end.

There’s little turbo lag and always a strong response to your commands, aided by the slightly notchy six speed gearbox that nevertheless has all points of the Duster’s power curve nicely covered.

A shame then that in the Duster installation the diesel is intrusively noisy at all speeds from idle to redline. In most such cars you accept a degree of clatter when the engine’s cold or under load but so too should you be able to expect it quieten down to a point where it’s nearly inaudible at a cruise. In the Duster this never happens.

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