My Dacia Duster test car came in what was described as an Altai Green colour. I have always heard that green is supposed to be an unlucky colour for a car, but this was a different green to anything I had seen previously and I was curious about what Altai meant.
So only one thing to do, go to our friend Google. Well Altai is a mountain range in Asia on the border between Russia and Mongolia. Dacia choose an appropriate name because this neat, but lively 4×4 Prestige version of the Duster, would probably get you up, very discreetly, to the base of the Altai mountain range.
The Romanian-built Dacia, which is the budget line in the Renault stable, was introduced to Ireland four years ago when we were in the depths of a recession. And no doubt Dacia attracted many new customers with their ‘shockingly affordable’ advertising strap line. It was a great time for a new brand to come here as we struggled and whinged about the reasons for the demise of the Celtic Tiger.
And Dacia cars are still affordable. Looking back at my review from 2012 I note that the starting price for the Duster back then was €14,990. There are several improvements in the new version and the entry level is now €16,690 which is still very attractive if you want to buy a new spacious four-door, five seater car. My high-speced 4×4 Prestige version with goodies like fancy alloys and reversing camera, will cost you €21,890.
There is an old saying that you get what you pay for in life and no doubt about it with the Duster there isn’t much luxury. It was certainly a lot different for me as the previous week I had driven the luxurious Mercedes GLC Coupe. You would get three Dusters for the price of one GLC.
It’s only natural in the first few days driving a new car that you compare it with the car from the previous week; not fair I know, but unavoidable. Externally that unique shade of green will definitely catch your eye. If you are superstitious and don’t like the green, the Duster is also available in other regular colours.
My wife said she enjoyed the high driving position and didn’t have any complaints, but we didn’t take the car on any long journeys. I missed a read out in the dash on what the external temperature was in the mornings, so we had to use our mobile phones instead. But I liked the clearance between the wheels and the body of the car, which obviously would be have been useful if I had to take the car off-road. It certainly has that ‘rugged’ look, but not everybody might be happy that the word ‘Duster’ is printed on both of the distinctive roof rails. But it’s probably a clever idea as fellow motorists might be wondering what’s the name of the green machine that overtook them.
Only available in 1.5-litre diesel. Road tax is €200 on the entry level, while the tax on the top of the range Prestige model is €270. There is a fine boot and a full size spare wheel, so full marks to Dacia for including two items that the average Irish motorist really likes.
It was fine but would I buy one? Hard to know at this stage of my life. But if I was younger and wanted a new car to keep a young family happy, especially in summer time, then the Duster would certainly fit the bill. The PCP offer is €159 per month.
by Seán Creedon