If anyone's wondering why Dacia has started to have successes after successes lately, it's all probably because of the niche they've conquered. It's the "I don't care about gadgets, badges or horsepower" niche. It all goes down on how much you are willing to pay for it, and Dacia is a great, if not the best example to show what some car manufacturers can provide for a given price. At the next door dealer, the cheapest crossover/SUV with similar options and features found on our test car costs a good two-three thousand euros more because of badge alone. Add an automatic climate control system and some electric adjustable seats and you're already on the way to paying double. Why do that when you have a perfectly good small SUV, which looks OK, can provide a basic amount of comfort, safety and can really tackle some off-road terrain? This is what the Duster does best, delivering the most in its segment for the least money.
Keeping in mind that even though we're not talking about "money no object" people, the Duster may still be just a tiny bit too basic from some points of view. For example, the short-ratio gearbox is great for off-roading, but a longer sixth gear would have been great for both highway fuel economy and cabin sound levels. We're saying this because the Dacia Duster 1.6 16v 4x4 is a bit thirsty and loud at speeds above 100 km/h (62 mph). Quite a lot if you already have higher standards when getting into one.
As far as the ugly bit about the Dacia Duster we drove, the complete lack of interior ergonomics should get top marks in this area. For someone used to just about any normal modern car, to fiddle around the interior for the horn, the exterior rear view mirrors controls or for getting all four windows up or down can really become a pain. Sure, you get used to them as time passes, but the ergonomics are completely backwards and counter-intuitive.Continue reading