The fact that the Duster comes with a hefty ground clearance and a rather soft suspension doesn't help it to much when you want to use it for covering long distances, but here is where another disadvantage of the car (for this chapter) becomes an asset.
We are talking about the 110 hp 1.5-liter dCi diesel engine, which, despite the fact that it's working with a short-ratio six speed manual doesn't manage to take the car past the 62 mph mark quicker than 11.8 seconds. Past the point, things can climb up to around 90 mph (145 km/h) at an acceptable pace for this kind of vehicle, but if you want to reach the 105 mph (170 km/h) top speed, you really need a long stretch of road.
This provides enough grunt for relatively decent overtaking maneuvers, but any more power and the suspension would've needed stiffening, which would've ruined the vehicle's off-road side.
The Duster can be used on the open road, but it struggles to meet your demands, offering performance similar to that of a V6 diesel Land Cruiser.
However, the vehicle does something special, a feature inherited from its Dacia ancestors: it pretty much lacks soundproofing, and while that will annoy some drivers, it means that it is the kind of car in which you can have fun at legal speeds.
However, we've been itching to tell you just how good the Duster is off road ever since we wrote the first line and now we finally have the occasion to.
The Duster is compact, pretty light and lacks special rough terrain driving assistance systems, which means that when you go off-roading in one of these, you get a totally different experience compared to the big boys in the field, such as the Land Cruiser and the Range Rover - much more engaging one.
Unlike in the big, electronic-filled SUV, here you feel connected and every contact that goes on between the surfaces under the car s transmitted to you. There are times when you have to fight the terrain, rather than plow through it as you would in a large 4x4, but this makes the experience much more involving.
Just like in performance on-road driving, people praise a driver's car and criticize lack of feedback offered by certain machines, which are otherwise extremely fast, we had more fun in the light, bare-bones Duster than in the two aforementioned off-road icons.
The non-permanent 4x4 system does its job extremely well: it might be front-wheel drive-based, but the rear axle really comes alive when this is necessary, even taking over and allowing you to throttle steer in the "lock" model. With all this and the help of 8.1 inches (206 mm) of ground clearance and proper tires, we managed to get pretty far through a snow & ice-covered mountain river.
Of course, the lack of locking differentials, a more fragile construction (it does have underbody protection but it uses a a unibody chassis and it's not as reinforced) and no electronics mean that the Duster can't keep up with the big boys until the end, but in most situations it can.
In fact, the main difference comes in terms of comfort, as the Duster doesn't separate you from the war going own underneath it.Continue reading
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
You guys know I'm veru busy these days... I'm holding a competition fot the best male slave, with the winner getting to serve me for a full year. So, I guess that if you called me, you want to be a part of this right? OK, we can talk about the Duster AGAIN, but only if we use the car as a test - to see which of the contestants cleans it better after I drive it.
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