Six years ago Dacia first introduced Ireland to the Duster. It was probably the worst time imaginable to be launching a new flagship model. The country, in fact most of the developed world, was in the depths of a huge economic down turn. The crash had happened and very few were in the market for a new set of wheels. And yet despite all the doom and gloom the Dacia Duster proved to be a success.
Affordable pricing meant those who could afford to change, could now get a brand new SUV for the price of a second hand hatchback. Undoubtedly affordably played it’s part but it was also its robustness and no-nonsense approach that appealed to the Irish customer. Over the next six years more than 10,000 Dusters went on to be sold in Ireland.
Fast forward to the present day and thankfully the economy would appear to be getting its act together. However as Dacia introduced the all new Duster to the Irish media, I couldn’t help but wonder if this new version would prove to be as big of a hit especially when allegedly we all have more money in our pockets.
Building on the success of the first generation, the All-New Duster has been improved and refined in almost every way, this much was immediately apparent. The previous model couldn’t have been described as anything more than cheap and cheerful. It served a purpose; that being it was a versatile and cost effective SUV. However, it always seemed to be a car which was assembled using the various bits and pieces from Renault’s left-over-parts bin. There were exposed surfaces and even visible welds which were pawned off as characteristics of the cars ‘robust’ personality. In truth it was all about cost cutting and in fairness, it worked.
This all -new model is coming at a point in time when buyers mightn’t necessarily be prepared to forfeit so much refinement in order to save a few schillings. So has the Duster evolved enough while managing to hold onto the attributes which lead to its success? The answer is undoubtedly yes!
The exterior styling is brand-new and not one body panel is carried over from the previous generation car. New 17-inch wheels with black wing arch trims give the car a more assertive personality with a more distinctive grille extending to the head lights, making the car look wider.
It also gets a totally revised interior, which features new technologies never before seen on the Dacia range. All of which are packaged in a greatly improved cabin. The improvement in the materials along with their fit and finish is clear to see. The centre console accommodates a higher-positioned (+74 mm) driver-focused MediaNav multimedia touchscreen display for clear, easy access. The seats thanks to their totally new design and bolstering offer far greater support and comfort than before. While the driver’s seat benefits from even more adjustability than was previously possible.
The major difference though is when you take to the road. The previous version suffered from incredibly intrusive levels of cabin noise, this new model is nothing short of a huge improvement. We’re told that this was achieved by increasing the percentage of sound-absorbing surfaces in the cabin and engine compartment from 20 to 50 per cent, as well as improved sealants and plugs and using 0.35mm-thicker glass for the front windows.
The All-New Duster comes with a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine at launch – the SCe 115 and the Blue dCi 115 which both use a 6 speed manual gearbox. The Blue dCi 115 will be available with a 4×4 transmission from early 2019. At the launch we had the opportunity to test the new Duster both on and off road. On regular old tarmac the improvements were immediately clear. However its ability to tackle the mucky inclines and descents of the off road track went even further to stressing how much value the Duster really is.
Regardless of what state our economy is in, there will always be value in a Duster. It’s not a car for the cash strapped motorist, nor is it just an SUV for the bargain hunter. The Dacia Duster is so much more.