What is it?
The Dacia Duster Black Edition was originally a one-off model that was created to celebrate the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Reputedly 'overwhelming' interest in it at the event, however, led Dacia to put the model in to production.
Cosmetic changes for the Black Edition include a distinctive brushed metal-look black vinyl wrap and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside you'll find upgraded trim in the form of a leather interior, while the Dacia's kit levels are bolstered by the addition of a Kenwood infotainment system. This adds sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, a USB connection and DVD playback to the Duster's relatively spartan kit list.
The Black Edition is available on two-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive versions of the Duster Ambiance and Lauréate models. Opting for the pack adds a substantial £5390 to the list price, however, which escalates the cost of even the cheapest model to £16,985. That's almost the same as an entry-level 2.0-litre diesel Skoda Yeti.
More alarmingly, if you opt for one of the four-wheel-drive models - as tested - the price hovers perilously close to the £20,000 mark. Suddenly, the Dacia seems very expensive.
What's it like?
Inside the Duster Black is fairly utilitarian, despite the addition of leather trim. The seats and general driving position are fairly comfortable, but the steering column doesn't adjust for reach, which may frustrate some. All-round visibility is good though, improving its ease of use.
Standard kit on the Ambiance model includes electric front windows and not much else, so the addition of the comprehensive Kenwood infotainment system does at least give you a little more to play with. It is, however, nothing to write home about; most would be happier with an upgraded conventional headunit and a £200 sat-nav unit that could then be transferred from car to car. The lack of air-con is also frustrating, and something that can only be resolved by spending even more money on a Lauréate model.
Many will be pleased to find plenty of storage points, a decently sized glovebox and a large boot, but some elements of the interior leave a lot to be desired. For example, the light in the glovebox in our test car had already fallen out, as a media connector had also been pushed through its hole, and the cabin isn't particularly refined on the move, either. Despite the Black Edition commanding quite a significant price tag, it still feels very much the budget product.
Out on the road it is, predictably, like a conventional Duster. The Dacia's 1.5-litre diesel engine is quite eager and its turbocharger spools quickly and audibly, adding a little character to an otherwise unremarkable engine. It's not a quiet unit, and under hard acceleration it becomes particularly coarse and loud, but given the base price of the diesel Duster you can't complain.
First gear in the Dacia's serviceable six-speed transmission is a very slow crawler ratio, ideal for low-speed manoeuvring or off-roading; you can achieve a controlled and smooth take-off in second gear, avoiding the need to upshift almost instantly.