Dacia Duster SUV - Interior & comfort
The Dacia Duster is now more comfortable and refined than before, but not as plush as more expensive rivals
Inside, the Dacia Duster has received a makeover in terms of both comfort and styling. The SUV has come a long way since it was introduced and its interior reflects this: build quality is good and the materials feel hard-wearing, if not particularly luxurious. The Duster’s seats are more comfortable than before, offering better support, extra padding and more adjustability.
On the move, the Duster is now far more refined than before; there’s a noticeable drop in road and wind noise at a steady 60mph. Dacia says noise inside the car has been halved thanks to more sound deadening and thicker glass, among other fine detail changes. It's still fairly noisy compared with more expensive models like the Volkswagen T-Cross and the sound of the diesel, in particular, can be a bit wearing on long trips.
The Duster’s suspension – which has been calibrated to work both on and off-road – is at its best on faster roads, offering decent ride comfort that’s perfect for longer journeys. We found the Comfort version with 16-inch alloy wheels is even better here than the Prestige trim. Other mechanical concessions to comfort include electric power steering, which reduces the effort required from the driver to steer by 35%, according to Dacia.
The Dacia Duster easily holds its own against pricer rivals like the Renault Captur and SEAT Arona, but don’t expect quite the same level of polish as those cars. However, despite its low price, the Duster makes for perfectly comfortable everyday transport.
Dacia Duster dashboard
Dacia has given the latest Duster a refreshed dashboard that incorporates a higher-set infotainment screen, ‘piano-type’ buttons and better-quality materials. It’s not the most exciting design, but makes up for its plain appearance with a reassuringly solid feel. The conventional dials behind the steering wheel are easy to read, while all of the controls are within easy reach – Dacia boasts that its infotainment system has one of the shortest viewing distances (from the driver’s seat) on the market.
Bi-Fuel Dusters are fitted with an aftermarket-looking LPG gauge and button to the right of the steering wheel. This shows the amount of LPG in the 35-litre tank and allows the driver to switch between LPG and petrol, once the system has reached its operating temperature. It will automatically switch the fuel supply back to petrol when the LPG tank is empty.
The simple-to-understand Dacia Duster range is split into three main trim levels: Essential, Comfort and Prestige. The Access trim has been discontinued, and was refreshingly basic: there was no radio or climate control as standard, and you had to make do with 16-inch steel wheels and a single-piece folding rear seat. Electric front windows, black plastic bumpers, stop-start and a locking central differential (on four-wheel-drive versions) came as standard, but that was about it. All models got LED daytime running lights, though.
Despite its position as the base model, the Essential trim is well equipped, with DAB radio, air-conditioning, 16-inch silver steel wheels, 60:40 split rear seats, black roof bars, front fog lights, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, plus Bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary input, a USB connection for MP3 players and cruise control with a speed limiter.
Dacia expects Comfort trim to be popular; it adds an eight-inch colour touchscreen for the infotainment system, sat nav, a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, satin chrome exterior body styling, rear tinted windows and a host of interior trim upgrades, including a leather steering wheel and a chrome gearknob. Electric rear windows and heated, power-adjustable door mirrors also feature.
The top-spec Prestige trim level gets 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, a multiview camera system, wireless smartphone connectivity, climate control, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors and keyless entry. A new special-edition Extreme SE trim sits above Prestige for 2022, carrying over all of the standard equipment from the Prestige mode and adding a new Urban Grey paint colour. Black painted 17-inch alloys are also fitted, along with black and orange contrasting detailing. Inside, there’s more vibrant orange trim pieces and stitching, along with leather and cloth trimmed seats. This brings a welcome freshness to the cabin, so it’s worth the uplift over Prestige.
A top-spec Duster may seem like a contradiction in terms, but the difference on a PCP finance deal means upgrading often comes with minimal extra outlay. High-spec cars are still much cheaper than equivalently specified rivals, too.
In a world of long and convoluted options lists, the Duster’s is pleasingly simple. One of the few options is an emergency spare wheel for £250, offered on all versions. Metallic paint is also available for around £600.
A range of accessory packs is also offered. Highlights include the Protection Pack, adding an alarm, boot sill protector, mud flaps and boot liner for around £400. A Pet Pack adds a grille between the boot and rear seats, along with a boot liner for around £250. A swan neck tow bar can also be added for around £350.