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On-test: Top value offered by Dacia Duster

Insights

Renault, owner of Dacia, took the wraps off its Duster Commercial earlier this year at the Commercial Vehicle show, and like its passenger carrying stablemates, the underlying feature is that of a value-for-money 4x4.

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Renault, owners of Dacia, took the wraps off its Duster Commercial earlier this year at the Commercial Vehicle show, and like its passenger carrying stablemates, the underlying feature is that of a value-for-money 4x4.

 

There are two trim levels – Ambiance and Laureate - with both available in either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The entry-level model costs £9,595+vat, and this Laureate 4x4 we tested, was a giddying £12,545+vat.

 

Specification

Surprisingly, this trim level brings with it a wealth of standard kit for a vehicle with such a budget price tag. Buyers get alloy wheels, multi-function computer, electrically heated and adjusted door mirrors, leather steering wheel, cruise control, speed limiter and air conditioning.

 

Added to this is an optional, 7in touchscreen sat-nav system with Bluetooth connectivity and steering-wheel mounted controls. The cost? Just £250+vat. Metallic paint was a less frugal option, costing a hefty £412.50+vat. For Khaki green.

 

Side, rear doors open to improve access to the load area.

So what does a duster Commercial give? With rear seats replaced by a toughened plastic floor liner, this two-seater offers internal load dimensions measuring 1.4m in length and 1m wide between the wheel arches.

 

Payload capacity is 550kg, effectively providing a half-tonne mobile toolbox. Disappointingly, there are only two anchorage points, so you will need to place and pack well, to avoid cargo movement.

 

While the rear side door windows have been blocked out, the doors do open to help cargo retrieval.

 

Currently, the Duster Commercial has not been homologated for towing. An oversight on Renault’s part no doubt, though the French firm says it expects an announcement soon. It is hoped the Commercial will get a 1,500kg braked towing capacity, but it is something you will need to check, if towing is a requirement.

 

Cargo area is surprisingly roomy.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre dCi turbo diesel and while its 110hp might seem measly, it does a good job of hauling the 4x4 van around with aplomb. Low gearing makes the duster feel more progressive than it is, and on faster stretches of road, it could really do with a seventh gear to cut revs at higher cruising speeds.

 

This aside, the Duster’s light weight and modest dimensions make it a hoot to drive, with only 110hp.

 

We would like to see the sat-nav system placed higher in the dash – it is positioned far too low to look at safely while driving.

 

Dacia duster Commercial is refreshingly simple.

Storage space around the cosy cabin is adequate, unless you have got one-litre sized water or pop bottles – they will not fit in the door pockets. And the pair of cup holders in front of the gear lever are small and awkwardly placed.

 

But without a bulkhead – optional full steel or mesh - it is easy to utilise space behind you.

 

Few 4x4s offer such genuine value for money, and if Renault can get its act together with towing homologation, it will win over farming friends with the Duster Commercial’s ‘value’ brand appeal.

 

Need to know:

  • Model: Dacia Duster Commercial, Laureate 4x4
  • Price: £12,545 (as tested - £13,207.50)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre, four cylinder turbo diesel, 107hp @ 4,000rpm, 240Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, with selectable four-wheel drive
  • Performance: 12.9sec 0-62mph, 104mph, 54.3mpg combined, 137g/km
  • Maximum payload: 550kg
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