Why we ran it: To see if the Dacia Duster is the market’s best-value SUV, and that it still embodies the Dacia ethos of functionality with affordability after a refresh
Life with a Dacia Duster: Month 6
You may already have twigged that the Dacia Duster 4x4 long-termer that has served me well for the past few months – and was due earlier this month to be handed on to a new owner – isn’t going anywhere.
I’ve decided to buy it as a replacement for the long-serving CitroeÌˆn Berlingo Multispace that has been our household’s do-it-all runabout for the past 19 years. This has been a wrench, but having savoured and approved of the Duster’s excellent audition for the role (and having realised that the CitroeÌˆn is starting to need more titivation than it once did), I’ve decided to make the switch.
I know what you’re thinking. If a bloke shells out his own cash for a nearly new car (new official price was £21,040, plus £788 afterfit towbar; I’m paying £19,600), he’s hardly likely to be impartial about whether it’s a good car or not. People aren’t. But then, I was pretty damned partial even before this long-term test began: I covered this revised Duster’s launch for Autocar and rated it highly.
Along with other Dacias, the Duster makes you wonder why on earth people pay so much for other cars. In the olden days, cheap cars were classed and equipped as ‘poverty models’, with one sun visor, no parcel shelf and no lid on the glovebox.
But today’s average Duster (mine’s a mid-spec Comfort, recently renamed Expression) has more gubbins than plenty of cars costing a lot more: a reversing screen, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay and a truckload of other modern essentials.
Big money is saved elsewhere in its make-up: for instance, the only available upholstery is a hefty black fabric, durable enough to win the war.
The air-con isn’t climate controlled. Instead, it blasts you enthusiastically from round holes in the dashboard. It isn’t the most powerful going, either, as I’m finding out today (it’s 38deg C). But for 363 days of the year, it’s fine, and even today it’s coping. There are no front parking sensors because Dacia takes the not unreasonable view that you’re looking forward anyway. Pragmatic thinking is evident all over this car, one of the reasons I so like it.