Test Drive: Dacia Duster 1.3 TCe 150 EDC: The right choice

A while ago, we focused on the fifth birthday upgrades the second generation Dacia Duster got. We tesed a Duster last September and more recently, a top-of-the-range version came our way. Now, we better understand why this car is such a success. Once again, it is clear Renault got it right offering affordable cars through its Romanian subsidiary.

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Our faithful readers and subscribers will probably remember some elements appearing in recent Duster- related features. However, once again we must list all the changes made to this Duster II². Front and rear light signatures now feature a large “Y”, there’s a more prominent grille, and 17’’ wheels as well as a bigger rear spoiler. Dacia clearly favours sublte evolution rather than changing everything every other year. The next Duster generation will feature a plug-in hybrid for the first time.

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I like it

When you swap cars every week and get into a Dacia, it puts a smile on your face. However, it’s not a mocking smile. Admittedly, there’s a going back in time feeling, to a long gone era when screen sizes or the driver assistance systems count were not ruling the game. Nevertheless, the Duster has got all today’s essential toys and equipment. New seats, an adjustable central armrest and an 8-inch touchscreen are the interior new highlights. You instantly get used to them.  Comfort is good, driving position is not too bad and you can drive the Duster in a relaxed and confident way.

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Quite clever

It was obvious to mate the 1.3 TCe engine to the available again EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox. This 6-speed transmission might not be the most responsive one (it is a little slow to downshift during acceleration) but easily adapts to various grade hills and slopes. It’s easy to use and shifts smoothly. It’s most enjoyable in urban areas or on the motorway, even if the first two speeds appear a bit too low-geared. The 1.3 TCe 150’s is not too noisy and its torque  is available from low revs, making it a perfect partner for the EDC box.

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I don’t like it

The steering seems a bit too disconnected for our liking.  On the motorway, some wind noise can be heard when doing about 110 km/h. Nevertheless, we can easily live with that. Basically, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this SUV.  That is why it remains about the best in class, with its unrivalled price/performance ratio!

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Why I buy it

The revised Duster is brimming with assets : its spaciousness, its massive boot space, its updated connectivity or the fact that using it on a daily basis is real fun. The Duster is a humble car which brings along the pleasure of using simple things without having to worry or think twice about them. The Dacia Duster was designed to get you from A to B in remarkable comfort. The top of the range Prestige version costs €22,290. Not a lot of money to get the range’s most powerful engine and an automatic gearbox that fits it like a glove. All the essential up to date safety features are standard. Our test car featured a few extras like the GPS Western European map (€ 120), the full size steel spare wheel (€ 120), the reverse camera (€ 120), 360° camera (€ 250), heated front seats (€ 300), hands-free package (€ 200), ″Marly″ leather upholstery (€ 700) and the ″Blue Iron″ exterior colour (€ 430). Fair prices that push up the total price to a still decent €24,410. Remember, the Duster has it all and just can’t be beaten for sheer value!

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Why I don’t buy it

People who want the very last word in fashion won’t have a Duster on their radar. However, a vast majority of motorists won’t dismiss it when thinking about buying a new car. There are a few minor faults : the suspension vibrates slightly at low speeds, the EDC gearbox lacks responsiveness and the multimedia screen is positioned too low. However, these won’t really matter when you remember the Duster recommended retail price. And fuel consumption could be better : our 500 km test average consumption was 9.1 l/100 km. Of course, yours truly never tried hard to lower it…


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