With road conditions turning icy and talk of snow on the horizon many motorists will be dreaming of a 4×4.
Prices for these vehicles have come down in recent years and now new kid on the block Dacia has finally reached the Irish market with its Dacia Duster – an SUV with a starting price of less than €16,000 for a 2WD model – the pricing equivalent, in many cases, of a supermini.
Upgrading to the 4×4 1.5-litre diesel model I was driving will still leave you with change from €20,000.
The budget brand, which is owned by Renault, is a big hit on the continent, and in the Dacia Duster you get a lot for your money.
This SUV is a nice, solid looking car. High off the ground with rear tinted windows, a sill on the doors and chrome roof rails, it’s almost majestic looking.
Inside, while the spacious cabin is by no means luxurious, you do get a lot more than you’d expect in a budget model.
The five-seater offers a nice high driving position and the leather-effect seats are comfortable. Legroom also is great, both back and front, and it also has a decent sized boot, which can be further increased by lowering the rear seats.
The top of the range Dacia Duster Signature 4×4 test car was a left hand drive model brought in from Luxemburg ahead of its launch here. It had a glinting brown metallic trim on the doors and on the surrounds.
All windows are electric, but controls are centrally located.
Sound quality from the radio/CD/MP3/USB unit is excellent. I was very impressed with the USB, which played all 72 songs on my memory stick.
The model I was driving had a six-speed manual transmission with a 1.5-litre dCi 110bhp diesel engine.
Most of my route was city streets and urban motorway, with a few winding country roads thrown in for good measure.
The Dacia Duster handled well on all routes, but performed best at higher speeds.
While it’s not the fastest at the lights, this car really can move on the motorway, with no problem reaching and cruising at 120kph. In fact, I missed having cruise control for this car.
The driver can select 2WD, 4WD Lock or Auto. Given the terrain I was travelling on, I preferred 2WD mode, but it really grips the road in 4WD.
The Dacia Duster is also extremely economical, even in 4×4 mode.
I also liked the raised button on the key fob to differentiate between open and close.
Overall, I quite liked the Dacia Duster.
While I don’t think it’s a car you’ll fall in love with, it’s a functional and practical SUV that’s great value for money.
The Dacia Duster is available now, with two trims on offer in Ireland – the Alternative 2×4 and the Signature 4×2 and 4×4.
Prices for the Dacia Duster start from €15,990. The top of the range Signature 4×4 I was driving costs from €19,990.
The Dacia Duster also comes with a three year warranty.
Engine: 1.5l dCi 110bhp (diesel)
Acceleration: 0-100kph in 12.5seconds
Maximum Speed: 168kph
Combined fuel consumption: 5.3l/100km
CO2 emissions: 137g/km
Annual road tax: €280 (Tax Band B2 – 2013)
Dacia launches in Ireland with €15k SUV