Finally, we can’t ignore the TCE 130 4x2, which in plain English is a more powerful unleaded variant, offering both more muscle and more economy for a £1000 premium over lower-powered petrol.
All of this cost-scraping aside, the diesel experience is a much more enjoyable one because of its fuel range, performance and refinement. It’s surprising, then, that only around 25% of Dusters sold will be oil-burners, but such is the sway of public opinion at the moment. I, in plain English, am happy in the two-wheel-drive diesel for as long as the sensors are functioning.
Cruising range More than 500 miles of range on a single tank of diesel.
Plastic trim The cheap plastics in the car do feel cheap but, hey, the car is cheap.
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Quality mismatch inside the cabin - 6th February 2019
I’m no good at Rollerblading, but I could do with digging out an old elbow pad. Just the one. Dacia’s interior now includes a leather steering wheel, the seats are better and there’s a comfy driver’s armrest for my left arm. But the door panel remains a hard and scratchy plastic that has your right elbow calling for protection.
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Life with a Dacia Duster: Month 1
Welcoming the Duster to the fleet - 23rd January 2019
Forgive me for being sceptical, but when the first-generation Dacia Duster arrived in the UK, I wasn’t sure. It seemed counter-intuitive that a SUV could be desirable when costing so little.
But then I drove it. I drove it from London to John O’Groats and back. I drove it as part of a 4x4 mega-test against the off-roading old guard for Autocar’s YouTube channel – think Wranglers, Discoverys and Arctic Trucks Isuzus.
Sure, it had flaws: the steering was vague, the interior quality was visibly outdated, the ground clearance was lower than bigger dirt-displacing rivals. But the plucky Duster was more capable and comfortable across all terrains than I imagined it ever possibly could have been. And at every stage, you can’t help but remember just how bloody cheap it is. I was convinced.
Seemingly, I wasn’t the only one. These days, a Duster runs off the production line every 56 seconds. Now there’s a new one. This latest model addresses many of the criticisms that could be levelled at the last one.
The infotainment touchscreen has been raised by 74mm, which is a huge amount. That means you have to look away from the road much less. It also gets electric power steering, vastly improving the accuracy with which you can place the car or position yourself on a motorway cruise.
So we’re running the Duster to see if these improvements help the car cope with a workhorse lifestyle while affording luxuries that seem almost unthinkable at the penny-pinching cost. That’s why it’s been given to me – the video bloke, a job for which you are carrying lots of gear and need something solid, dependable, yet not too parsimonious in how it feels.