Until recently, you could buy a no-frills Dacia that was so no-frills that it didn’t have a stereo. Or air conditioning.
But things are changing at Renault’s budget brand.
The most basic Duster SUV is now called the Essential and comes with BOTH amenities as standard – but at £14k it still costs a fraction of what its rivals cost.
Were it not for the sleek new Y-shaped headlights, taillights and distinctive grille, this latest development in Duster history could be but a footnote.
But those little touches are just as important whether you’re buying a £14,000 or £140,000 car.
At the end of the budget, probably even more.
The “cheap jeep” was such a success for Dacia that more than two million of these machines were put on the road.
The “less is more” philosophy clearly works and has also been retained in this facelift.
Step up from the tempting bargain basement model and for an additional £1,500 the Comfort trim adds alloys (rather than steel wheels) and a handsome central Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-compatible 8-inch touchscreen.
It’s a huge improvement over the previous generation’s meager offering.
Rounding out the simplified three-tier menu are top-of-the-line Prestige trim, heated seats, larger 17-inch alloys, keyless entry, a soft-touch steering wheel – fancier but still cloth upholstery – and a handful of safety tech for another grand contains.
To keep it simple, the only options available for any Duster are metallic paint and a spare tire.
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Another well-considered development is the ability to pair a diesel engine with all-wheel drive. A logical combination.
And as well as two underpowered petrol engines to choose from, there’s also a unique bi-fuel option (petrol and LPG) that could theoretically save you big bucks at the pump.
It will give you an impressive 767 miles.
The 150 hp petrol engine is the only one that you can pair with an automatic transmission.
But it has the same plush ride and vague steering as the slower and cheaper options, so don’t expect sporty handling gains.
The Duster offers, as always, an appealingly high driving position, good visibility, plenty of space in the cabin and a decent boot capacity of 478 liters, which is suitable for everyday family use.
As for the hard plastics used enthusiastically inside, they will at least stand up to the eager pounding of young fists.
Budget motoring is in safe hands with Dacia. If you can hack the Duster in the base spec, you’re really good at it.
- Price: £14,495
- Engine: 1 liter of petrol
- Performance: 90 hp, 160 Nm
- 0-100km/h: 13.1 sec
- Top speed: 160km/h
- Economy: 45mpg
- CO2: 136g/km
- The end: now
https://www.thesun.ie/motors/8462116/dacia-dusters-essential-suv-budget/ Dacia Duster’s new Essential SUV shows that budget motoring goes strong