Dacia Duster performance is on a par with its rivals. It was launched with just one petrol and one diesel engine, but a second petrol has since been added to the line-up.
The 115hp 1.6-litre petrol engine is adequate for most jobs and even in fifth gear it pulls well. Figures are relative for this size of car and it will complete the zero to 62mph sprint in 11.0 seconds. You’ll need to change down a gear or two and keep the revs high when overtaking at speed, but 156Nm of torque should be enough for most situations.
The turbocharged 1.2-litre TCe 125 engine has 10hp more than the SCe 115 and a useful 205Nm of torque. It’ll also go from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds, so it’s the one to go for if you want the most performance out of the Duster.
One diesel choice
The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is a tried-and-tested engine found elsewhere in the Renault range, as well as various Nissan models. Its 110hp and 260Nm of torque help get it to 62mph in 11.8 seconds from a standstill, although the 4x4 version is slightly slower at 12.4 seconds.
The SCe 115 comes with a five-speed manual gearbox only, while the TCe 125 and dCi 110 come with six-speed ‘boxes. The sole automatic – a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox called EDC – is only available on the two-wheel drive diesel, and it’s a smooth and economical combination.
The Dacia Duster is never going to attract enthusiastic drivers – it is not a car for those that enjoy B-road blasts of an evening. If you need four-wheel drive and want a car that will make you smile, then you should buy a MINI Countryman. When cornering, the Dacia Duster has a fair amount of body-roll through corners and the driving experience is also hampered by the slow and vague steering.
However, on the up side the ride is comfortable. The Duster soaks up most bumps meaning rear seat passengers should give the Dacia the thumbs up.
Interior-wise the Dacia Duster is a bit cheap and cheerful, but then if you purchase a Duster you are looking at the budget end of the market. The plastics are of low quality, feel hard to touch and will scratch in time. Even the load cover in the boot is flimsy but it does the job – it just feels a bit low rent. When you have the handbrake in the off position it hampers you getting to the controls for the wing mirrors – nothing major but it is an irritation.
Dacia Duster comfort levels are fairly good. The ride soaks up the majority of potholes yet you’ll still feel relatively refreshed after long motorway journeys. Side support and bolstering for your back could be better on the front seats. The high driving position is good while the cabin is focused around the driver. Whether you are travelling in the front or rear there is plenty of head- and legroom for six footers.
The Duster has a few downsides. The cabin could be better insulated especially around the door seals. This means that wind, road and engine noise are all quite loud when travelling at motorway speeds.