Voted the Top Gear Bargain of the Year in 2012 and, just last month, the Carbuyer Small SUV of 2014, the Dacia Duster is picking up accolades like there is no tomorrow. Here in Plymouth Dacia Dusters are proving popular too. They are fast becoming a favourite among motorists looking for a value for money buy that doesn’t compromise on performance. If anyone needed more convincing, then our favourite off-road expert, Nick Agg-Manning is the man for the job. He headed off tarmac and onto some rugged terrain to see how the Duster fares.

 

“Dacia – as in Thatcher” said Jack when he handed me the keys to Vosper’s Dacia Duster to try for the weekend. So, you can see why the attached photograph of the car parked in front of my roof had a certain irony!

At first glance this vehicle seemed to demonstrate exactly what you would expect from a purposeful 4×4 SUV…flared wheel arches; excellent ground clearance; decent sized wheels with dynamic rims; chromed roof rails and side runners; ‘bash’ plates for protection under the bow and transom; good all round visibility and the built for purpose functionality required.

Now, believe me, this vehicle, under the umbrella of Renault, offers exceptional style, accoutrements to compliment and a drive train shared by some of the best off roaders in the business. If it is a car badge you want – then spend £60, 000 plus but if it is usability, then why not settle for £10,000?

The layout of the cockpit is simple – nothing pretentious, straight forward easy-to-read dials, radio/media controls on the steering wheel and plenty of comfort provided by the front seats which are designed to sit on, not swim in!

So, to the crux of the matter – a test off road at our usual spot, courtesy of The Deer Park Hotel in East Devon.

It was now that I realised exactly how low-geared first gear was – it is like being in a low range box – complete control downhill with excellent engine braking retarding my speed to less than 5 mph – so safe.

To climb steep gradients, starting in first was terrific, but to achieve more momentum, I soon slipped up to second – such an easy gear change.

The steering is direct and enabled me to negotiate slippery corners in confidence.

 This Dacia Duster is an extraordinarily capable cross-over vehicle – superb, tight responsiveness on the road and, then, reassuringly safe and composed sturdiness off road.

I have really enjoyed my weekend proving to myself, let alone any doubters, that performance does not come from just a name – results speak for themselves and, this vehicle gave results!

So it was with some sadness that I sped back down the A38 to Vospers to return the car on Monday morning.

I travelled the best part of 200 miles, on and off road, and judging by the fuel gauge, I used no more than 20 litres ofdiesel – that is well over 40 miles to the gallon! I cannot get over the price tag for the capability and package on offer.

Finally, may I just add – use the electronic switch to lower the window and listen – it sounds so much more fun than a Formula 1 Car!

 

Thanks Nick for sharing your Dacia Duster exploits with us. Sounds like the Duster is as good off-road as it is on!

Nick was test-driving a Dacia Duster 4 x 4 on behalf of Vospers. If you would like to find out more about off-roading experiences please visit Nick’s website at www.oacltd.co.uk.