Road Test Blocks
Did we mention that we like the price?
Contains some of the bad bits from the Renault parts bin
In the car world, an entry-level Dacia Duster will set you back £9,495, that’s around the equivalent of a three year old Nissan Juke, or a slightly used Ford Fiesta. Cheap motoring by anyone’s standards for a new car.
Add £100 though, and you can transform your Dacia Duster car into a Dacia Duster Commercial, the first van from the Romanian manufacturer to reach the UK.
The burning question then is what is a Dacia Duster and how is it a van? It’s a global best-seller that has taken the world by storm with its blend of price and practicality. Part of the Renault Group, the Duster is it’s small off-road model, and is available as either two- or four-wheel-drive. Dacia offers two trim levels on the Duster van, entry-level Ambiance and the upgraded Laureate.
It’s powered by a Renault group 1.5-litre dCi engine developing 107hp and 240Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, and is capable of moving 550kg.
Load volumes vary slightly depending on the drivetrain specification, with a 1.15m3 load capacity for 4x2 models and a 1m3 volume for 4x4s – achieved by removing the rear seats and replacing them with a solid floor.
The most important part, however, is the price. Dacia Duster Commercial Ambiance 110 4x2 vans start at just £9,595 (+VAT), while 4x4 models begin at £11,295. A step up to Laureate trim in either model will cost £1,250.
There is a decent amount of standard equipment already fitted to the Ambience models of the Duster, with chrome trims, electric windows, MP3 CD/radio, Bluetooth, AUX and USB connections, four airbags and roof bars. The upgrade to Laureate adds some smarter looking satin chrome to the roof bars, alloy wheels, piano black interior details, side sills and scuff plates, heated electric mirrors, cruise control and air conditioning.
Dacia’s motto for the Duster’s launch is “you do the maths” and by our calculations, nothing really comes close to the Duster in this very small niche segment. Aside from the Dacia Duster, on offer there is also the Ssangyong Korando and the larger Mitsubishi Outlander. Dacia has the price advantage over both and its 4x4 model is over £1,500 cheaper than the Korando and nearly £9,000 less than the cheapest Mitsubishi Outlander.
It’s also a very cheap vehicle in the first place, so when it comes to depreciation you’ll probably be losing a lot less too.
As part of the Renault stable, Dacia has a wide choice of parts to choose from when it comes to manufacturing its vehicles. They might be out-dated parts from Renaults of yesteryear, but that means the Duster is not only fairly familiar it is also pretty inoffensive on the inside and largely well put together.
As this is technically a van, you’d also presume it to be much the lesser of its passenger car relations, but this is actually the regular Duster without the rear seats. In its place is a large reinforced tray, the cargo deck of which is almost 1.4m long and more than 1m wide between the wheel arches.
Despite the price, it’s not as basic as you might think. There are a few touches that you wouldn’t usually find in a van. The quilted triangles on the door panels, and small collections of piano black trim show that Dacia have at least thought about trying to make this Laureate version of the Duster at least a fraction interesting and almost appealing. Which is just as well, as you won’t find the engine or the power it generates in the least bit pleasing. The 1.5-litre dCi engine fills the cabin with noise even when idling and unsurprisingly it doesn’t get you very far very fast. But it will do it efficiently, with a claimed fuel consumption of 56.5mpg for the 4x2 models and 54.3mpg for 4x4 versions.
If your tired old estate car is your current mobile office, then the Duster Commercial might well be for you. The price alone should be enough to make you seriously consider this over a used vehicle. The three year warranty is better than anything you’d find in the second hand market, even if it does only cover you up to 60,000 miles, and with the prospect of 50+mpg fuel consumption it could prove just as economical to run as it is to buy.
More than 15,000 UK buyers have already been convinced to the idea that maths is mighty when it comes to the Dacia Duster car, and we’re sure the commercials of the Duster Commercial will see demand for this unusual Eastern European import soar.