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ROMANIA RULES (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The second generation Dacia Duster will be at its most popular in 1.6-litre SCe petrol 2WD form. Jonathan Crouch puts that variant to the test.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 82
The Duster is the car that epitomises Dacia, the Renault-owned Romanian brand who've brought a whole new value perspective to family cars since their launch in our market back in 2012. The original version of this model was astonishingly well priced - but felt it in some aspects of its design. With a few of the rough edges smoothed off though, this second generation version could be a very competitive proposition indeed. Here, we're trying it in 1.6-litre SCe 2WD petrol form.
Backgroundword count: 152
There's nothing radically different on offer to Duster buyers this time round, but at the same time, almost everything's been changed - or so Dacia says anyway. The reality is that the 'B0'-series platform and a lot of the engineering you can't see is much the same as it was before, but it is true that every exterior panel is new. The drive experience should be much better too - the brand boldly promises that refinement is almost twice as good. Best of all perhaps, we're promised that the cabin will no longer have the feel of an Armenian thrift store. And you'll now be able to option it up with sophisticated features foreign to the Dacia brand in the past, like climate control, keyless entry and a multi-view rear camera. But you could argue that to do that would be dilute this car's most unique selling point - its value proposition.
Driving Experienceword count: 241
On the move, a couple of key things characterise the drive dynamics of this second generation Duster. The first thing that impresses itself upon you is the steering, this time round a modern electrically-assisted set-up that's vastly better than the vague old hydraulic system used previously. It rather light and devoid of much feedback (which to be honest reflects the handling overall), but it makes the car much easier to manoeuvre in tight spots than it was before. The second and equally important change here relates to refinement. It's a measure of what a noisy old thing the previous Duster was that Dacia can claim a 50% reduction in interior noise this time round. It certainly feels significantly quieter, especially at lower speeds. Engine-wise, there's a choice of two 115hp powerplants. Either the 1.6-litre SCe normally aspirated petrol unit we tried. Or the 1.5-litre 'Blue dCi' turbo diesel. Either way, 4WD is an option if you want it, though most buyers will probably stick to the front-driven format of our test car. The rather old-tech 1.6 SCe petrol lump has about the right sort of output for a car of this kind, but without a turbo to boost it along a bit, there's a notably lack of grunt through the gears thanks to the modest 156Nm torque output. From rest, the 62mph sprint occupies 11.9s en route to 107mph, figures that fall to 12.9s and 105mph if you go for 4WD.
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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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