What is it?
Lateral-flow tests every five minutes, an app for almost everything and an online account with a password you can’t remember for everything else; cars that try to drive for you and are overflowing with needless technology. If you too feel overwhelmed by the complexity of modern life, try a car from Dacia, which has always predicated its brand upon a disdain for superfluity and in so doing found itself a great customer base – even fan base – in Britain.
Along with introducing a genuinely outstanding new Dacia Sandero supermini, Romanian Renault has also updated its Duster SUV for 2022, sharpening its look and refreshing its interior. The mechanicals have been left essentially unchanged, presumably by the rationale that, well, they were just fine as they were. It didn’t get four stars from Autocar in 2018 for nothing.
When buying a Duster, choosing the engine is probably the most complicated bit. There’s an 89bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol triple; a 99bhp version of that unit that can also run on LPG; a 128bhp 1.3-litre turbo petrol four; a 148bhp of that unit that comes only with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (called EDC); and a 113bhp 1.5-litre diesel four.
Each unit has been ‘renewed’ to reduce CO2 emissions, lowering your company car tax bill and/or environmental guilt, while a new tyre compound contributes a further 10% cut.
Interestingly, you can no longer buy a petrol 4x4 Duster, only a diesel one. All petrol Dusters are now front-wheel drive. And if we’re going along with Dacia’s brand ethos, that makes sense: eight in 10 Brits live in an urban area and therefore don’t strictly need 4WD, which adds cost and weight.
We’ve already driven the diesel 4x4 and the EDC, so now it’s the turn of the bread-and-butter Duster. The one that matters most: the 1.3 TCe. Here, there are just two trim levels, Comfort and Prestige, of which we’re sensibly testing the former.