In-depth reviews

Dacia Duster SUV - Engines, drive & performance

No Dacia Duster is a ball of fire, but handling is safe, responsive and enjoyable

Carbuyer Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Very few SUVs – at any price – are geared towards thrilling their driver, and the Dacia Duster does little to quicken the pulse. Crucially, though, it offers barely less driving enjoyment, involvement or reward than many cars with far more intimidating price tags.

The Duster actually feels quite well balanced in corners, and is responsive enough to boost confidence on demanding roads. The electric steering feels rather light but doesn't take a lot of twirling, and there's plenty of grip from those meaty-looking tyres without as much kickback as before over bumps. The brakes impress, too – shedding speed with little fuss even when an emergency stop is required. A sports-car driver will find little to get excited about, but few will find the Duster a chore to drive.

Every Duster has a manual gearbox as standard – five-speed on the TCe 100 petrol with front-wheel drive, or six-speed on the rest of the range. The four-wheel-drive system makes for a relatively capable off-road package, and that opens the door to sales of Dacias as inexpensive all-terrain workhorses. It seems a shame, then, that the entry-level Access model should be offered with front-wheel-drive only.

Dacia Duster diesel engines

Dacia has only announced one diesel engine for the Duster: a well proven 1.5-litre dCi 115 that's also found under the bonnet of Renault and Nissan models. With 113bhp, it has enough to allow the Duster to accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds. This engine also feels well suited to towing and load-carrying.

Petrol engines

The 1.0-litre TCe 100 is offered in the Access, Essential and Comfort models. It produces 99bhp, and is capable of 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds. A TCe 100 Bi-Fuel petrol/LPG engine is available from the Essential trim level upwards and uses the same engine. It does weigh more than the standard 1.0-litre model though, taking 14.4 seconds to reach 62mph from standing when running on petrol and 13.8 seconds when running on LPG. There's slightly more torque at lower revs when using LPG, which makes the Duster slightly more flexible and easy to drive, but most driver's will struggle to notice.

On Comfort and upwards, a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine becomes available. The latter is more powerful, offering either 128bhp or 148bhp, and is more economical, too. In these models, 0-62mph takes either 11.1 or 10.4 seconds. Perhaps showing how far Dacia has come in a few years, this new turbocharged engine is shared with lots of cars, including the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Micra and even the Mercedes A-Class.

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