When Dacia introduced their Duster to Ireland in 2012 they described the ‘no frills’ car as ‘shockingly affordable.’ The Romanian-built car arrived as we were nearing the end of a recession and it proved to be a popular buy for many Irish motorists who were looking for a bargain.
Six years ago the entry level price for the Duster was €14,990. Dacia had modest sales targets for Ireland, but Paddy Magee, MD for Renault Ireland, who distributes Dacia in Ireland, said that over the past six years they sold 20,000 Dacia cars here, which includes 10,300 of their bargain basement Duster.
The entry level price is now €17,390, but the manufacturers say it’s now a higher speced and more sophisticated car. Everybody loves a bargain and while we cannot recommend you cross the border or go to England to buy a new car, in the UK the Duster costs approximately £10,000 sterling.
But then there is nothing new in this price difference. I remember the price of cars in Ireland compared to the UK being one of Gay Byrne’s hobby-horses on his morning programme on RTE radio many years ago. The Government cannot stop motorists going north or to England for a bargain, but maybe the situation will change for the better when Brexit happens next year.
The new version doesn’t look much different to the first model, but Dacia say that it’s a completely new car. It’s the same size, but wider and with more horizontal lines incorporated into the design along the side of the car. It now has a more rugged look.
Prices start at €17,390 for the 1.6-litre entry-level petrol model, the first petrol offering available in Ireland from Dacia. However, the big seller in Ireland is expected to be the 1.5-litre diesel version and the ‘price walk’ to a diesel version is €1,200. I thought the diesel engine was very frugal and the fuel gauge didn’t seem to move for a few days.
Dacia say that cabin noise has been halved with extra sound absorbing surfaces and thicker front windows. The driver’s seat is now more adjustable, and new electric power steering makes light work of parking. Rear legroom is adequate and the boot has 445 litres of space.
Every car launch we attend these days all the talk is of Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). And it looks this new WLTP test which measures fuel consumption, CO2 and pollutant emissions, could mean an increase in the price of new cars. Dacia product manager Jeremy Warnock says the new Dacia is WLTP compliant and added that the Duster at entry-level prices is €2,000 cheaper than its competitors.
The first version of the Duster surprised a lot of people with its off-road capabilities. It still has great ground clearance which makes it ideal to go off-road. A 4×4 version will be available next January. Two roof rails add to the chunky look. I really liked the armrest, which is provided specially for the driver.
My test car came in a very bright Desert Orange colour and coupled with an impressive new-look grille, it was easy to find the car in the shopping centre car park.
Yes, the Duster is still ‘shockingly affordable’ and the news is that it now has a few touches of, dare I say it luxury, with a reversing camera and keyless entry.