As I drove the first Duster model quite a lot, because one of my friends owns one, I really wanted to test the latest Duster - it brings quite a lot of changes design wise and also to the interior.
Most people are still judging Dacia because of the first Logan model, which was kind of a fail if we talk about interior quality, comfort, handling or anything else - except the engines (which are reliable). And they’re right to do so, but in my opinion, Dacia is trying really hard to improve with each new model (or facelift).
So, let’s talk about the latest Dacia Duster!
If we look at the exterior we’ll find quite a few redesigned elements. On the front of the car, the most obvious changes are the hood which has new lines that make the car look more aggressive and bigger, also the headlights now have LED Day Running Lights which look pretty awesome.
Moving to the side of the car, the fenders are more rugged which make the car look really wide and that’s pretty much about it. One thing that I don’t like is the fact that the doors are not covering the side skirts so when the weather is bad, your pants will get dirty every time you’ll get out of the car. Oh, and the fuel door is HUGE!
The back of the car has a new design element that everyone has been talking about - the Jeep taillights. Of course, they could have had their designers think of a more unique design, but it doesn’t really bother me, as they look pretty good.
The first thing you notice when you climb inside the new Duster, compared to the older model, are the seats which are more comfortable and offer more support. And then you start analyzing the interior and you find the windows buttons in the right place, which is the door panel, the same steering wheel as the previous model, with a couple of buttons to control the cruise control and the little screen between gauges - but the gauges are brand new and I really like the way they look.
Of course, the cheap plastics are still there, but as I said previously in other reviews, this is what you get in a car form this price range. Two questions for Dacia: Why did you put the cruise control on/off button under the handbrake when you still have 2 blank spaces on the steering wheel? Why did you install the seatbelt buckle under the arm rest?
Now let's focus on the infotainment system - they finally moved it to a more visible place and it is way easier to operate or to see what is displayed on that 7-inch kind of mid resolution screen. Also, the infotainment menu is really easy to use and each option from the menu has a small pictogram that represents its function, so I don’t see why anyone should have any problems using it.
I also paired my phone and it was really easy to do it, Bluetooth works perfectly and you can stream music using any app from your phone. For example I used Spotify and everything worked perfectly as I was able to see the title of the songs or to change the songs. But, there is one thing I didn’t like about the Bluetooth connection. If you listen to music from your phone using Bluetooth and you stop the car, get out and walk away, when you come back the Radio will start and you’ll have to switch back to Bluetooth streaming. Kind of annoying.
Continuing with the interior, let’s move to the backseat. I didn’t spent too much time there, but my wife did as we have a small child and she had enough room and the seats were comfortable. The only complaint I heard from her is that the door opening is too small.
Our test car was equipped with a 1.5 dCi (diesel) engine, 4 Wheel Drive and a manual gearbox. The first thing that impressed me was the fuel consumption. On the first day of the test drive I drove it like a retired man and the fuel consumption stayed at 5.1 L/100km, on a Friday evening in Cluj-Napoca. On the second day we went for some off-roading to take the awesome pictures from this article and it went up to 7.8 L/100km. I think this is really great fuel consumption! Let us know what you think in a comment!
Also the power of this engine is pretty good for this car. Of course I would have enjoyed a 1.6 dCi 130 HP from Renault, but this one was ok too. What I didn’t like about this engine is the noise that it makes and you can hear it perfectly inside the cabin. In total, Dacia offers 3 engines on the new Duster with 6 different configurations.
Two petrol engines - 1.2 liters (125 HP 2WD or 125HP 4WD) and a 1.6 liters (115 HP 2WD), both of them manual and only 1 diesel engine of 1.5 liter (90 HP 2WD and 110 HP 2WD or 4WD). On the diesel engine with only 2 wheel drive you can get an EDC Gearbox (Efficient Dual Clutch) which I totally recommend if you’ll use the car mostly for city driving. You can get 4 Wheel Drive only with a manual transmission and 110 HP.
If you want to know how the 1.5 dCi EDC Duster drives, we drove the previous model which was equipped with the EDC gearbox. Click here: http://thecarguys.ro/2017/06/21/dacia-duster-edc/
Regarding handling, the new Duster has plenty of body roll and sometimes it can give you an insecure feeling if you go fast in corners, but if you’ll drive it normally, everything should be fine. The steering is great when you're driving in the city as it's electronically assisted, so it is really easy to maneuver or park the car, but it doesn’t weight up at high speeds and that’s not so good.
3 things I really like about the Duster:
The Keyless system works perfectly and I loved it! Also the keycard has a button to turn on the lights of the car so you can easily find the car in a parking lot.
The 360 Degrees camera, even if the resolution was kind of low, I used this feature a lot and I liked it!
The 4WD system works great and we had quite some fun on the hills around Cluj.
3 things I really don’t like about the Duster:
The headlights can’t be upgraded to LED or Xenon low beam. Competitors offer that!
It can’t be ordered with a sunroof or panoramic sunroof. Again, you can do that with the competition.
The manual gearbox, even if it’s a 6 speed manual, it’s kind of a 5 and a half speed. To understand it better, think of the 1st gear as just half gear, it is really short.
Would I buy this car? Yes, but with the EDC transmission, as I’m not an off-road guy and let’s be honest, most Dusters are driven on tarmac for most of the time.
Price of the tested model: ~19500 Euros (VAT Included)
Engine and Gearbox: 1.5 dCi (diesel), 110HP (260NM of torque) & 6-speed manual transmission.