What is value for money these days? With supermarkets producing special offers that only save you a penny and in store sales that actually run all year round, finding a genuine bargain out in the big bad world is actually much easier said than done. Are the days of coming home smug with your purchase over? Not if new brand to the UK, Dacia, have anything to say about it.
Dacia are a sub-brand of Renault and as a result you can stroll into any diamond insignia branded building and order a Dacia, or if you have one get any maintenance done. The other up shot of this close relationship is that Dacia gets access to Renaults parts bin and doesn’t have to pay costly sums for development. This saving is then passed onto the consumer. This is the Dacia Duster Access and thanks to all of the above it is the cheapest 4X4 on the market by quite a long way.
The Duster is a well sized piece of kit seating five in relative comfort and offering ample room for a dog or two in the boot. Visibility is great and that much desired high driving position is most welcome. This Access model is the entry level car and though it doesn’t come with any toys what so ever, not even a stereo, it does offer a punchy 1.6 litre petrol engine and all wheel drive. The idea of the Access on any Dacia is that it is literally the cheapest that they can make the car whilst still producing a quality product. It might have wind-up windows but the seating is comfortable and there is no denying its practicality. The cost of moving up a trim level if this is a little too basic is only £500 and remembering that this 4X4 model starts at only £10,995 the upgrade wouldn’t exactly break the bank. An interesting note is that if you don’t really need a 4X4 function you can claim the 4X2 model from £8,995 which is just incredible value for what you get. An option 7 year warranty that stays with the is also available.
On the open road the Duster moves will with the petrol engine more than capable of getting the car up to speed. It revs freely and the 105BHP it produces never leaves you feeling underpowered. Though road and wind noise is more noticeable in the Dusters most basic form, it is far from unbearable. The car feels very sure of itself going through corners and body roll is kept at bay rather well for a car of its size. Feedback from the wheel is good and that purposeful suspension has no problem dealing with our rutted roads. Grip levels are high allowing for confident driving whilst at the wheel. Twisting the dial to the 4WD mode and heading off the beaten path doesn’t phase this car either as it has genuine off-road credentials. Our test car trawled up boggy paths and climbed up and over some demanding obstacles with no issues what so ever. It is clear that the Duster isn’t some budget basement machine, but a genuinely impressive tool that leads you to think how its competitors justify their asking price. This six speed manual petrol model not only has a pleasant gear change, but will also do 35MPG meaning it should also have a pleasant effect on your wallet.
This Duster Access is a brilliantly humble machine and just does what it says on the tin. For the money you can’t beat it and in comparison with its closest rivals it quite often leaves you in awe that a car costing this little could ever challenge the establishment. Dacia say that 40% of all Dusters sold are the 4X4 model suggesting that many buyers are looking for a car that can handle the rough stuff. I admire the Duster for its honesty and pure utilitarian persona. Watch this space because if Dacia carry on in the way they have begun you could well see many many more of them on the road.