Dacia Duster: PH Fleet

Poor old Duster. In any collection of cars it's unlikely to be the most glamorous, the fastest or the most exciting, but on the PH Fleet its more ordinary nature is highlighted to an even starker degree. If you were undertaking a journey for work, would you take the Dacia or an F-Type? Exactly.

Not fancy; not a problem, either
Not fancy; not a problem, either
A variety of reasons, chief among them actually wanting to drive it, have meant I've been in the Duster a fair amount recently. And while I'm not going to pretend that it's suddenly my favourite new car on sale, or that our spec shows off the car to its best, I've found a great deal to like.

The simplicity is key to its appeal. Obvious perhaps, given that Dacia markets its cars on that very virtue, but becoming more relevant every day. You can buy a Hyundai i30 with 1,944 driving mode configurations, three versions of the BMW M3 within 30hp of each other and there's a Sport Response button - because it's like a racing car - on Porsche saloons and SUVs. Just being entirely adequate transport may not be cool in 2017 when every other car is attempting to be a Swiss army knife with a gearbox, but that's exactly what the Dacia is good at.

It's just easy, and that's really nice. It starts on a key, not requiring the clutch to be depressed, a button to be prodded or the car to be facing Bucharest before obliging. The fuel tank - which you'll become familiar with at a 35mpg average - is filled by opening the flap, unlocking the cap with the ignition key and squirting in Tesco's most affordable. The boot has a huge and visible external button, and is opened with your arms and not one of those infuriating automatic systems. The speedo and rev counter are analogue but clear, with markings in all the right places and sensible calibration; you'd be amazed how many dials are difficult to read, showing ludicrous numbers for road and engine speed. What's the point?

It's a good outdoorsy kind of colour
It's a good outdoorsy kind of colour
The ventilation controls are chunky and, yes, simple (albeit too low down) and all the controls you would expect to find on the stalks are as they always used to be. What was wrong with indicators and lights on the left, with wipers on the right? It just works, which is a neat summation of the car itself really.

It whisked me up to Lotus for the Exige drive entirely pleasantly, cruising with confidence and delivering a decent turn of speed once the little turbo boosted. The wheel control is poor, yes, and the steering feels like it would work better off-road than on. That being said, this is a car that starts at £9,495. Need some context for that? The cheapest Ford Ka+ is £9,545...

Taken in that light - and ignoring the fact that our particular Dacia was specced to twice that - the Duster is great little car. It doesn't have a great amount of time left with us, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be very tricky car to replace as do-it-all device. Might even be missed just a little bit, too.


Car: 2016 Dacia Duster TCe 125 4x4
On fleet since: January 2017
Mileage: 10,556
List price new: £15,795 (As tested £18,980 comprising Metallic paint for £495, European mapping for £90, Aspira leather upholstery for £500, Protection Pack for £495, Touring Pack for £565, Action Pack for £755 and Window Pack for £285)
Last month at a glance: Don't discount the Duster as a durable daily drive!





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Comments (51) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Aletsch 22 Nov 2017

    If (and that is a big if) we are in for that bad old La Niña winter with plenty of white stuff coming down, the kudos for this car will go up even further.

    Let it snow, let it snow....

  • JohnnyQ86 22 Nov 2017

    The appeal for an absolute boggo standard, AWD one of these, is strong.

  • Monkeylegend 22 Nov 2017

    I can see the attraction of a £9.5k Duster, not so much for an £18k Duster.

  • BugLebowski 22 Nov 2017

    £19k for a Dacia? I'm oot!

  • shirt 22 Nov 2017

    I dont see the love for these. We have them as site vehicles (africa) and they’re woeful.

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