The first-generation Dacia Duster arrived here six years ago when we were in the middle of one of the worst financial crises. If ever there was a new car in recent years born of the time, it was surely Duster, offering Irish motorists great value. Some 10,000 Irish owners bought one.
Now, the second generation model is about to go on sale from €17,390, and despite an improved economic climate, it still targets those who are looking for an affordable and robust new car and do not want to go down the second-hand car route.
Building on the success of the first generation, the new Duster has been improved and refined in almost every area, but Renault claims it remains as versatile as ever.
The new Duster’s ability to stray off the beaten track is expressed by the latest version’s updated design. It features a more muscular styling with more pronounced lines and assertive personality. It looks longer and more imposing too.
The model boasts a new lighting signature, including LED daytime running lights. A larger, mass-coloured, scratch-resistant front skid plate reinforces Duster’s more adventurist credentials. A higher belt line adds to the impression of robustness and protection, while the windscreen has been brought forward 100mm and is more steeply raked, which makes the cabin appear more spacious. A more distinctive grille extending to the head lights also makes the car look wider. New 17-inch wheels with black wing arch trims contributes positively to the new look.
The new model also has a totally revised interior. It features new technologies never before seen on the Dacia range. The dashboard and interior have been totally revised for enhanced comfort and quality. The centre console accommodates a higher-positioned driver-focused MediaNav multimedia touchscreen display for clear, easier access, with Dacia claiming it is one of the market’s shortest viewing distances.
The seats have been redesigned with denser foam for improved comfort and support. The front seat cushions are 20mm longer and the driver’s seat comes with an armrest, lumbar adjustment, and a new height-adjustment system which travels 50 per cent more the current version. The steering wheel is now fully adjustable for reach and rake.
Achieving the optimum driving position in the new Duster is easier because of the new electric power steering that reduces the effort required to turn the wheel by 35 per cent, which is particularly useful when parking.
Dacia claims cabin noise has been halved by increasing the percentage of sound-absorbing surfaces in the cabin and engine compartment from 20 to 50 per cent, reducing noise, thanks to improved sealants and plugs, and using 0.35mm-thicker glass for the front windows. The car is now fitted with larger-diameter 165 mm biconic speakers for enhanced audio quality.
It adds that storage capacity in the cabin has been increased by 20 per cent to a total of 28.6 litres. The new Duster has the same boot capacity as its predecessor: 445 litres for the 2WD version and 376 litres for the 4WD version.
Dacia’s ethos is to keep things simple and no-nonsense - so the new line-up is no different. There are three trim levels to choose from; Essential, Comfort and Prestige. Core features include LED daytime running lights, height-adjustable front headrests and seat belts, ECO mode and stop and start, gearshift indicator, engine immobiliser, automatic door lock, ABS and emergency brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control, new full-length curtain airbags and ISOFIX points in the rear. The new Duster has a similar three star Euro NCAP rating to the out-going model.
The Essential trim, available from €17,390, adds 16-inch Fidji steel wheels, body coloured front and rear bumpers, heat adjustable driver’s seat, DAB radio with steering-column mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Comfort trim, available from €19,790, and the top-of-the-range Prestige version, goes on sale from €21,290, adds even more luxuries. All the price are for 2WD, 1.5 litre petrol engined versions. For the switch 1.5 litre diesel engine, add €1,200.
The new Duster comes with a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine at launch - the SCe 115 and the Blue dCi 115 which both use a manual gearbox. The Blue dCi 115 will be available with 4x4 transmission from early in 2019, and a Dacia Duster Commercial with a full factory conversion will also be offered next year.
Dacia says the new Duster has the same off-roading credentials that helped to make the previous model such a success. Although visually a much more imposing car, the new Duster offers dimensions close to those of its predecessor. It is 4.3 metres long and 1.8 metres wide, with a high ground clearance of 210 mm.
The approach and departure angles of 30 and 33 degrees respectively for genuine off-road capability and hill descent control and hill start assist make driving easier on sloping terrain. For off-road enthusiasts, the 4X4 monitor incorporates a compass and notifies the driver of the vehicle’s angle in real time.
The car features a multi-view camera which incorporates four cameras (one at the front, one on either side and one at the rear ). The system allows the driver to view the area around the vehicle and manoeuvre in complete peace of mind when using the vehicle off road. It is also useful to help with parking and is activated automatically when reverse gear is engaged.
Check out the new Dacia Duster, which is doing a good job of matching the higher quality requirements buyers have in our improving economic climate, but without leaving the value tag behind.