Model history and preview
Dacia or Renault Duster for the first time appeared at the end of 2009 at Geneva Motor Show and is a compact crossover, developed in Frenchan platform. Logan has recommended itself as very suitable car in low-price range with its durable powertrain, nice suspension and cheap service and the Duster was designed to occupy the niche of budget CUV and ironically left there to this day all alone, competing only with Chinese cars. And we`ll find out, how does things go for this somewhat unique crossover.
By the way, the cost of developing of this model amounted 230 million euros, which mean Renault have a very high hopes for this car.
Duster is producing almost all-over the world, except North America so far. Renault/Dacia also related to Nissan make, as Renault concern is the owner of controlling stake (44,4%) of Nissan company. That`s why Duster is based on Nissan frame B0 (Renault Logan, Sandero, Lada Largus) and indexes for Asian market as Nissan Terrano.
At the beginning of 2014 Dacia has managed to sell 1 million of Dusters around the globe for 4 years and this is a good dynamics.
- First-generation design was a result of work of Erde Tung, Mongolian designer, last 3-rd generation painted Russian designer Evgeni Tkachov, what cause a lot of jokes about the exterior of Dacia Duster. First of all, because of design is almost unchanged by time. It`s hard to distinguish every generation one-by-one. The last of them has very similar to the first generation grille, but can be identified by massive wheel arches and a slightly more expressive frontal optics.
- The appearance of the caralready adjusts people for low expectations and capabilities of this car. Because Duster really has too simple design as for 2015 year and it is not to compare with top CUV rivals.
- Duster is for undemanding public and it can more than you can expect by seeing his exterior.
- In the cabin Renault owners will feel themselves comfortable and familiar from the first time. Duster has similar to Logan ergonomics, with beep-button on a stalk, similar radio and rotary switches of conditioner. We can`t have climate control even as an option – budget level doesn`t allow it here.
- Dacia/Renault still don`t want to give a multiwheel to Duster and all music controllers and under the steereing wheel. It is quite comfortable, easy to get used to it.
- The plastic panels are rigid and have a cheap look, easy to soil and become creaking after a 20-30K of mileage, especially the sound is tangible in winter.
- We have now more modern door cards with cloth inlays and electronic controllers of glass hoist. It`s not very comfortable to use because of door handle.
- Сontrols for external mirrors adjustment somehow located under a lever of parking brake.
- Armrest is extendable but it`s made of very thin puny plastic and I was afraid not to crash it.
- Duster has a lot of space for different things: big glove compartment in front of front occupant and rather big notch for necessary thing above it. Also it has a couple of glass-holders near the gearshift lever and a couple of them instead of armrest in more cheap packages.
- Let`s keep it straight: Duster is a budget car for economizing of money and undemanding driving off road at the village, small town or as a spare car for hunting and finishing, so don`t think you can see here some modern and useful features as keyless start engine, steering wheel heating, sunroof etc.
- But as for practical needs, Duster can pleasantly surprise you: base package has frontal airbags, ABS, frontal electronics glass hoists, remote central lock, ISOfix mounting, steel disks 16″, CD/MP3+radio with USB and auxuliary outputs, folding backseat in 60/40 proportion (almost smooth floor) – everything we need to feel ourselves comfortable and safe without excesses. Also, if you have 4×4 model, you can regulate regimes of coupling work from 2×4 to 50/50 all wheels drive.
- For an extra you can order ESP, side airbags, cruise control, foglights and even seat heating.
- Everything is working quite good, this generation has been less criticized for the ergonomics, but the central wheel on radio doesn`t controlling the sound volume, but changing radio stations. And overall tuning of this radio and setting time was not very easy for the first time, but it is a matter of habit.
- It is also have such ergonomic miscalculation as absence of backlight at the backseat and no back armrest. It`s not significant, but still notably.
Usability & Suitability
- Boot Capacity. 475 liters without central differential of all wheel drive mechanism. 1636 liters boot you can have if fold the back seats. But the trunk can be significantly decreased if you prefer AWD car. Maybe 68 liters of boot capacity and bigger tunnel at the back seat is not so fundamental for you and you can sacrifice all these for the sake of better passability.
- Gasoline tank. 50l. This is a little tank for crossover, but the range can be up to 1000 km if you consider the diesel engine.
- Cabin Space. It is average for CUV cars, thankfully to 264.5 cm of wheel base it is enough of legroom to the front seat. But as for space to allocate three occupants at back seat, it is enough for three adults of middle frame up to 5`8″. Big men find the back seat too congested, especially in long trips. Front seats are very comfortable and have strongly marked side control.
- Suspension. This is the ace of trumps in this car as for me: it has average stroke and good setting to soak up road imperfections and feel itself comfortable at the off-road. Even dashing through sandy soil or boulders of dirt and stones, the car handling will be adequate. In the most difficult areas it will be useful to turn on the block of center differential. It can help you to get out of mud and to get on the high climb covered with grass. It ismore then enough for majority of situations.
- Clearance. 205 mm for 2×4 modification and whole 210 mm for AWD car. This is how the maker gives us a hint to use this car out of the big megapolices, conquering the suburban jungle.
- Soundproofing. Average,
- For this model were only 4 modifications of engines were provided. Two gasoline motors and one 1.5 liter turbodiesel (dCI) with two modes of forcing (90 and 110 hp). All of them can`t be called too dynami, maybe only 2.0I stands out by its comparatively decent behavior in the city and you don`t trailing like a tortoise in the urban trafic.
- So, if you choose 1.6 gasoline engine, we can say that you are completely out of money or decide to use Duster only for small local transportations within little town. It goes with manual transmission only and it can be 5 or 6-speeds in it. It can give up to 148 Nm of torque and this is very bad indicator for crossover. And if its 105 hp in city can be enough, but you need to kick down the pedal almost every time, then in comparatively hard off road with uphills and downhills, andwith some onboard load it can be out of power and move only on 1-st gear. Comparatively quick acceleration of 12 secs up to 0-60 mph provides by very short gears. You need to shift gears too fast in the city to accelerate. On the highway it can be a problem, because it takes engine to 4000 revs on 120 km/h (75 mph) and the 155 km/h (96 mph) is the maximum speed. That`s why it`s impossible to reduce consumption lower 8 liters per 100 km. In the city it takes 11-12 liters/100 km in moderate driving manner.
- The same gearbox has 2.0L gasoline engine, but it differs with gear ratios a little bit. That`s why we have a slightly bigger top speed of 175 km/h (110). And the acceleration in the city can compete with some part of traffic with its 10.5 sec to 60 mph. But it`s too gluttonous in the city with conditioner on and on hard off-road areas it can consume up to 18-19 liters per 100 km which is very poor record in passive to Duster.
- But if you want to economize fuel and to combine Duster`s passability with decent behavior in the city and on the highway, we can recommend you to buy diesel modification with 4×4 mode and 110 hp 1.5 dCI engine. But in top completion it can be $3-4K more expensive than its 2.0I version with all wheels drive. But you`ll receive rear multi-link McPherson suspension and 240 Nm of torque which can be very useful both in city acceleration and in hard off-road. 90 hp dCI modification is frankly weak, but it`s still good choice if you don`t plan to have long trips across the big city.
We`ve already described the most interesting details of the car above, but can make the overall conclusion of emotions from handling of this car.
It is definitely the car for off-road/village use. Yes, it can drive along the city streets, but you`ll have a comical image on the road. At first, weak engines can`t provide good dynamics, that`s why it has so short gears and it`s not very comfortable to handiwork in the city traffic. Also, outside noises on high speed, inside plastic crackling won`t make your trip comfortable.
But diesel economical engine, 4×4 modification with 210 mm of clearance and almost perfect for bad roads suspension can put Duster in its place when both you and your car will feel yourself maximally comfortable.
Power Ups in Comparing to Previous Generation
- Better ergonomics of inner space.
- New features in the package.
- New, more reliable engines.
- Slightly bigger clearance.
- 3 stars from EuroNCAP. No surprise. Such low marks were achieved for not sufficient safety for driver and front adult occupant. They can get bad body injuries at the side blow. When the blow hits from behind, they can undergo neck whiplash injury. But children under 3 years old will feel themsleves safe in crash. Pedestrians won’t be lucky to get under the Duster. The hood of this car is too dangerous in the accident.
- Easy soiled cabin with upholstery of low quality. Creaking plastic panels.
- Too weak engines for city drive. 2.0L gasoline motor is too gluttonous in city driving mode and makes your choice of Duster irrelevant.
- Small shortcomings like no light for back occupants, no soundproofing of engine section, thin plastic of the armrest.
- Trunk is really long, but narrow like tunnel.
- Engines are perceptible for low fuel quality.
Cost of Service
- It can be various depending on your driving style and appropriate using of this car. Basically, it`s unpretentious car with small needs, but of you will exploit it without any caution, you can break down the engine and this service will be too expensive. But in all other cases Duster is sufficiently reliable car with comparatively cheap expendables.
This is where opinions differed. Many people praise Duster and ready to sing odes to it. Others brusquely deviling it in all the deadly sins. But who`s right in this case?
Everything is quite evident. The truth is lying somewhere between this opinions. The fans of Duster eften undemanding people who appreciate what they have for this money. They can go hunting, take home children from work, economize fuel, make some tuning to this car to feel themselves more comfortable and the most important – to have a car, which is significantly better in quality than Chinese rivals and have almost all modern abilities.
“Haters” often are people, who don`t own or even take a single ride on Duster but they don`t like everything about it: it`s cheapness, lightness, lack of gimmicks, etc. But there are also people, who bought Duster and thought it can be such comfortable and prestigious as Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Mitsubishi Outlander, BMW X5 and so on. You will laugh, but there are too many such people at the car forums.
Our opinion: Dacia Duster worth every penny asked for it. It is good handling, simple and predictable on the road and off it. It`s cheap and 110 hp 1.5 dCI engine will help you economize more. Besides, it has a lot abilities and advantages in the village over his more expensive rivals: you can use it everywhere and don`t be sorry. Duster is a real modern off-road subjugator.