Dacia Duster 2016 review

Dacia chose the Geneva Motor Show to announce that the new Duster will come with a new 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine when it goes on sale in the UK next year. The 125 TCe engine delivers 123bhp and is a development of the engine currently used in parent company Renault’s Clio.

Insiders claim the 1.2-litre unit will offer comparable performance to a normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine. The model promises to be efficient, too, with stop/start and deceleration energy recovery fitted as standard.

his sub-compact SUV is based on a stretched Nissan Tiida platform, and comes with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine, available in either a two-wheel-drive 4-speed automatic form or in an all-wheel-drive 6-speed manual form, the latter capable of locking the diff for a 50:50 front/rear torque split. Interestingly, the 2WD model comes with a torsion-beam rear suspension, while the 4WD model gives up some boot space to make way for an independent rear suspension.

The new Duster is expected to increase its length to 4.5 meters from the current 4.31 meters, Caradisiac reports. That would make it about the size of a Peugeot 5008 crossover, meaning parking in tight spaces may prove problematic.

The Duster has helped the Renault brand hugely the past four years. While French car sales were down, Dacia posted double-digit growth almost every year in Europe. Thus, the design of the Duster 2 is being taken very seriously – it needs to be look tough yet approachable. Inspiration will be taken from the latest concept cars, like the Oroch pickup revealed in Brazil. Of course, we could also be surprised by a brand new look, since the Duster is technically their flagship model.

From an exterior perspective, you will notice chunky new roof bars with the Duster name etched into the aluminium insets. Previously, the roof bars looked a bit lightweight, but these new ones definitely make more of an impression. As do the new alloy wheels, colour-coded side mirrors and the redesigned radiator grille and headlights. The result is a simpler, more purposeful look. Rear parking-distance control sensors are now standard. Inside, the previously plain fabric makes way for patterned seat covers, or you can go for leather as an optional extra on all three Dynamique derivatives. The top-end 4×4 model now offers buyers the choice of three settings: two-wheel drive, automatic and “lock”, which is basically four-wheel drive.

Unlike many budget cars, though, the Duster has genuine appeal. Dacia is part of the huge Renault-Nissan Alliance, so the oily bits beneath the surface are up to date, and some of the bits inside can also be seen in Renaults and Nissans.

Offered in a single five-door bodystyle, The Duster is similar in size to a Nissan Qashqai, which means it has a roomy interior that’s big enough for a family of five. There are only two engines and the 1.6 petrol is only offered on the base car so most buyers get the 1.5-litre diesel. Dacia offers a 4x4 option, but not an automatic.