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Dacia Duster test drive

Some of you may have heard about the Romanian car producer Dacia, especially in the past years, since Renault took it over and invested heavily in it. Over these past few years, Dacia has constantly developed better products and has evolved to higher quality standards.

Last year, Dacia unleashed the Duster, its first crossover SUV. Officially revealed on 8 December 2009, it became available in Europe from 18 March 2010 and suddenly, everyone was talking about it. Starting from around 11900 euros, the Dacia Duster is still the cheapest SUV in its category, offering great quality for such a low price.

A week ago, we took for a test drive, in order to put it to the test and see what it can do. All I can say is that we weren’t disappointed.


At the first glance, the Duster is a robust car, with simple, but unitary design. Based on the Nissan B0 platform, the Duster measures 4.31 metres (169.7 in) in length, 1.82 metres (71.7 in) in width and has 210 mm (8.3 in) of ground clearance. This compact crossover can be all you need both in the city and out. It may not be spectacular, but it won’t make you look bad while getting in and out of it.


The interior is not at all spectacular, because Dacia has done everything they could to offer both high usability of space and a decent design. Some of the plastic may seem cheap (because it probably is) and the twists and knobs may not be chromed, but they’re in the right place and they’re easy to use.

You get a very spacious boot, with a volume of up to 475 litres (16.8 cu ft), while with the rear benchseat folded and tipped forward, its carrying ability can exceed 1,600 litres (57 cu ft). That’s a big plus if you’re going to be taking this car for a trip(which you should do).

Of course, if you chose the top version, you’ll get leather seats and aluminum wheels. It wont’ be luxurious, but you’ll feel quite comfortable.

On and off the road

What the Duster does best is attack any obstacle in its way and climb over it. You may not think, but this is an authentic 4×4! On a technical level, the Dacia Duster is offered with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The 4×4 variants use Nissan’s all-wheel drive system, which allows the driver to choose from three different driving modes: Auto, in which the front/rear torque split is calculated automatically as a function of available grip, Lock, whereby 50 per cent of torque is consistently fed through the rear axle, and 4×2 where the transmission is locked into two-wheel drive for maximum fuel efficiency. This can assist you greatly should you need it or it can provide you a very good time behind the wheel, in an off road experience.

Its 90 hp, 105 hp or 110 hp versions may not sound powerful enough, but, used correctly, they will get you out of trouble. We’re talking about a car that does its job and it does it well.


Dacia has not spared expenses when it comes to the Duster’s security features. That’s why you’ll find the car equiped with Bosch 8.1 ABS, as well as EBD electronic brakeforce distribution and EBA emergency brake assist. The Duster also features ESC electronic stability control as an option on certain versions, as well as CSV understeer control and ASR traction control. These are meant to keep you safe on the road and also safe off road, should you decide to go for a trip in the wilderness.

How much gas does it sip? Well, a decent amount. We drove the Laureate 1.6 16V version, that puts out 105 hp, and it gobbled up, on average, 11l/100km out of town and 14l/100km in the city.

The acceleration is not exactly fast, taking you from 0 to 100km/h in 11,5 seconds, but you can rely on it during an overtaking. With a top speed of 164 km/h, it’s quite swift for a car its size. We took it only to 140 km/h, but we believe it can achieve more, given the right conditions.

The 4×4 option is very useful, especially if you’re at the seaside and you get the sudden urge to take the car for a spin on the beach, or if you have to park on a hill, inclined to 45 degrees and 1m high. You wouldn’t dare try that in a sedan, now would you? :)


The Duster is a very decent car. From the design, to the spaciousness, from the pricing to the 4×4 option, we can see why it was such a big hit across Europe and beyond. It’s good, reliable car, which you can actually afford. Kudos to Dacia for building it!

Future plans

In June 2011, Renault revealed the Duster in South America at the Buenos Aires Motor Show. The Romanian car producer announced that they will make the model in Brazil and distribute it across various countries in South America. Dacia officials have also been confirmed that the Duster will be released in the UK in 2012, relaunching the Dacia brand there.


Proving its competitive spirit, a competition version of the Duster fitted with a 350 hp (261 kW) V6 engine and driven by Alain Prost participated in the 2009/2010 French ice racing championship Trophée Andros, finishing in second place.

In 2010, the Duster participated in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, being first in the crossover class. The two Dacia teams successfully finished the Rallye on board the Duster: Dounia and Isabelle (Team 315 – Dacia) were first in the general ranking, while Nathalie and Dorothée (Team 316 – Dacia) finished in 5th place (out of 8 teams competing in the class).

In 2011, Dacia announced that they would be racing the Duster in the “Unlimited Class” of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The Dacia Duster ‘No Limit’ will be powered by an 850 bhp (wow!) version of the VR38DETT engine used in the Nissan GT-R mated to a six-speed sequential transmission. The car is tuned by Tork Engineering, Sodemo and Renaultsport and will be driven by three-time Trophee Andros winner Jean-Phillipe Dayraut. We’re really looking forward to that!

We liked:
- the spacious interior
- (we really really liked) the price
- how the 4×4 performs.

We didn’t like:
- the interior details
- (we didn’t especially like) the exterior design.

Next on, you can enjoy a photo gallery of the Duster.

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook page for photo galleries of the latest car models that are released daily.

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Dacia Duster No Limit Revealed

Dacia Duster No Limit

The French automaker Renault has finally revealed the specially-prepared version of the Romanian SUV Dacia Duster which will participate in this year’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb event. As you can see, this version is totally different from the production model.

Dacia Duster No Limit

Probably the biggest change over the regular version is the V6 3.8-liter engine borrowed from the all-mighty Nissan GT-R. They’ve tuned it and it now produces a whopping 850 hp!

Dacia Duster No Limit

This powerful engine has been linked to a 6-speed Sadev sequential gearbox that was especially developed for this event. Renault says that the huge rear wing was necessary and the entire bodykit of the Duster was developed in the wind tunnel.

Dacia Duster No Limit

Source: Renault via ZerCustoms

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Dacia Duster ESF Announced

Dacia Duster ESF

The first special edition of the Dacia Duster is out. Dubbed “Ecole de Ski Francais” (ESF), which means Skiing School, Renault’s low-cost Romanian brand will offer this model only to ESF skiing instructors.

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Dacia Reaches Production Milestone – 4 Million Cars

It all started in 1966 when Dacia was founded. 45 years later, the company rolled out its 4,000,000th car at the Mioveni plant in Romania. The car that managed to achieve this important milestone was a Duster Laureate (4WD model) which had a brown finish and under the bonnet it featured a 1.5-liter diesel engine with 110 hp.

The Romanian automaker built its 1,000,000th car in 1985 and the second million in 1998. In 1999 Renault took over the factory from the Romanian state and in 2007 the third million milestone was achieved. They only needed three and a half years to make another million cars, thanks to the increasing demand, along with the $1.7 billion investment Renault made since they took over the brand.

At the moment, the low-cost Duster sport utility vehicle is the best selling model of the brand, as half of the 65 cars made every hour in the Mioveni plant is a Duster model. The car was launched last year and since then Dacia has received more than 100,000 international orders and they managed to sell 4,900 units in Romania.

For celebrating this important milestone, the Romanian automaker released a “how it’s made” video of its 4,000,000th car. Enjoy.

[youtube width="470" height="300"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUgkH7EAVx4[/youtube]

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Dacia Duster At The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Last month we’ve mentioned that the Romanian SUV, the Dacia Duster will get the engine from a Nissan GT-R for a specially-prepared car that will participate to this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It seems that the car will not be getting a Japanese engine as the engineers over at Renault Sport Technologies will prepare a one-off 850 hp version of the car that meets the Pikes Peak regulations.

The Dacia Duster has previous racing experience as famous F1 driver Alain Prost drove the Romanian SUV in the Andros Trophy ice-racing championship last year. This time, the Duster will be driven by Jean-Philippe Dayraut who managed to win the Andros Trophy for three times. Further details about the car will be revealed in a few weeks by the Romanian automaker.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will be held on June 26 this year and it is a 12.42 mile (20 km) course that has 156 turns. Beginning at 9,390 feet (2,862 m) and ending at 14,100 feet (4,301 m), the race is quite difficult taking into consideration the fact that the rarefied air slows reflexes, saps muscle strength and at the same time lowers the power of the engine by 30% at the summit. Add to this the fact that the road surface alternates gravel with asphalt, it isn’t a race for everyone.

Source: Carscoop

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Dacia Duster Getting Nissan GT-R Engine ?

Dacia Duster Andros Trophy

Remember the Dacia Duster ? It is a Romanian SUV – the most affordable one money could buy actually. If you watched Top Gear, we are certain that you heard of Dacia, James’ May favorite automaker.

If you have heard about the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb you must know that in the recent years it has been dominated by Suzuki’s Nobuhiro Tajima and Rhys Millen. Ok, so what is the connection between the Duster and the Pikes Peak?

It seems that Andros Trophy, the French ice racing series will feature Alain Prost in a specially-prepared Dacia Duster. For those of you that haven’t heard about Andros Trophy, it is a French ice racing series that has a “habit” of attracting some of the biggest names in the F1 world like Prost and Villeneuve. Prost managed to win the trophy in 2007 and 2008 and Jean-Philippe Dayraut did it the next two years.

Before the Dacia Duster, Alain Prost drove a Toyota Auris, in which he managed to grab the title twice. Dayraut took a BMW 1 Series and gave his old Skoda Fabia to Villeneuve. Some say that he could be behind the wheel of the Duster at Pikes Peak. The same sources say that Dayraut’s people got in contact with Tork Engineering – the guys responsible for Prost’s Duster – to make a worthy Pike’s Peak challenger by using the power unit coming from the Nissan GT-R. Why a Nissan? Because the Romanian automaker Dacia is a member of the Renault-Nissan partnership. The car will have a curb weight of less than 2,000 lbs and the engine will output around 850 hp.

This sure sounds like a very interesting car but we’ll have to see if these rumors will become a reality.

Source: AutoBlog.com

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Dacia Duster crossover might appear in the US as a Nissan

The Dacia Duster low-cost crossover is set to take Europe by storm, thanks to its adequate off-road capabilities and the fact that the Dacia brand is already becoming a household name in countries like Germany or France.

But the little crossover has a far greater destiny, at least according to the Renault Nissan alliance, who owns Dacia. It seems that the model will be pushed on almost all of the markets, whether it will be badged as a Renault or as a Nissan.

According to Autocar, it seems that where the French brand is present, the Duster will be getting that logo, but in countries where Nissan is the single carmaker, the Japanese logo will be plastered onto the Duster.

As you can imagine, this might also hint to the possibility of the Romanian crossover expanding to territories such as North America, where Renault hasn’t been present for quite some time. Nothing is certain as of yet, according to the sources, so it all depends on the Duster’s success in Europe.


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Dacia Duster crossover coming to South America with Renault badge

The new Dacia Duster crossover promises to take Europe by storm with its low-cost nature yet resilient off-road talents. It aims to further improve the recipe that made the Logan sedan and Sandero hatchback so popular in Western Europe.

But while Renault will be keeping the Duster with its subsidiary’s badge in Europe, it will be launching the model under its own badge in South America. It seems that the Renault factory in Colombia is being heavily modified to support the manufacturing of the Duster, and will create models for all the markets in which the French company is present, including Mexico.

While this isn’t a confirmation, it seems that Renault wants the Duster to be as close as possible to the USA, so that word of mouth marketing can start. The company hasn’t even confirmed plans to re-enter the North American market, but it is bound to happen, sooner or later.

Until then, South Americans will soon be able to enjoy this low cost crossover. In case you want to see what the Dacia/Renault Duster is capable, just check out these two videos.


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Dacia confirms 2012 UK launch, showcases Duster’s off-road abilities in two new videos

Renault’s low-cost Romanian brand Dacia is nothing short of a sales phenomenon, both in its native country and in more developed territories like Germany or France, where the Logan sedan or the Sandero hatchback are making a killing.

But while mainland Europe has been enjoying the low-cost models, the UK has been deprived of them, partly because of the weak pound sterling-euro exchange rate and the right-hand drive conundrum. That’s going to change though, as a Renault executive confirmed that Dacia will begin selling models in the UK around 2012, with the new Duster crossover leading the charge, set to be followed by the Sandero and even the Logan.

Perhaps Dacia could offer the first RHD Sandero to Top Gear presenter James May as he is one of the biggest supporters of the low-cost brand and that specific model. Who could forget the first episode of Top Gear’s season 14?

During this week, at the Geneva Motor Show, Renault and Dacia have heavily promoted the Duster crossover, which they hope will boost sales even higher. In order to get the off-roader’s message across, the company also released two new videos, showcasing the abilities of the Romanian crossover. Hit the jump to see what it can do in mud, water or snow.

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Video: Dacia Duster arrives this May, receives new off-road ad

“Great news!” The Dacia Duster has received a concrete release plan, as the new low-cost Romanian crossover will be presented in March at the Geneva Motor Show and will arrive this May in showrooms.

For those of you who have forgotten about the car, it will be Dacia’s first attempt at creating a 4×4 model, and considering it will have the same low-cost nature as the Logan or the Sandero, the Duster will definitely be a hit in both its native Romania and in other European markets, where Dacia is growing by leaps and bounds in terms of popularity.

It will be offered in two variants: either 4×2 or 4×4, with three engine choices: either a 1.6-liter 110 HP gasoline, or a 1.5-liter dCi diesel unit, which will be capable of either 85 or 105 HP.

Still not completely sure of the new Dacia Duster? Hit the jump to check out a video which demonstrates its abilities, both on and off the road.

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Renault considering return to North America with low cost models like the Duster crossover

Many of you are certainly aware of the success Renault has been recently experiencing in developing markets, targeting the low-cost segment with models like the Logan sedan, the Sandero hatchback and the newly revealed Duster crossover, which are made under a variety of brands, from Renault, Nissan to Dacia.

With the low-cost models already being refined and their manufacturing process streamlined, it seems that the French company might turn its head to the United States of America, considering a return to the territory it left in the late 1980s.

But don’t go thinking that the French brand will just buy a plant and starting making a new name for itself anytime soon, as such a move, especially in these troubled times, will take some time to plan out. Are you confident that such a move would work? What models from Renault or its subsidiaries would you want in the US? Leave a comment with your view.


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Dacia Duster formally presents itself, details and photo gallery included

After being spied multiple times and getting a special rally-spec version out to be piloted by Alain Prost at the prestigious Trophee Andros, the Dacia Duster has finally been revealed in official pictures from the Romanian brand, a Renault subsidiary.

Set to be a low-cost compact crossover, the Dacia Duster looks rather interesting, and will offer something completely new to customers used to the brand. Its design may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the entry-level market, it won’t matter that much, as it gets the job done, and looks like fairly decent crossover.

Expect full 4×4 all-wheel drive, but also a front-wheel drive version for those of you not keen on fitting a V6 in the back and going on winter rallies like Alain Prost. You will be getting a 1.6-liter 16-valve gasoline engine, which develops 110 HP, as well as two diesel variants of the 1.5-liter dCi unit, one outputting 85 and the other 105 HP. A more powerful diesel unit, perhaps the 1.9-liter engine, might arrive during the life cycle of the model.

More details will soon follow, ahead of the official debut of the model at the 2010 edition of the Geneva Motor Show, taking place in March, next year. Until then, enjoy the gallery below.

Photo Gallery: Dacia Duster


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Video: Dacia Duster rally car driven by Alain Prost during the Trophee Andros

Seeing as how the Dacia Duster rally car is a prime example of a Romanian car going where no others have gone before, running stories like this one fills out heart with national pride.

But don’t go thinking this is just gloating, as this new video of the Dacia Duster V6 rally car being driven around by famed pilot Alain Prost during the Trophee Andros competition is quite exciting. It really shows that the new low-cost crossover is able to hold its ground. Hopefully the expertise gained will also help the production model, which will be presented in December.

Hit the jump to see the video of the Dacia Duster rally car in action.

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Dacia might enter UK market as soon as 2010, rumors say

Even though such a fact has been been unconfirmed by the top officials at Renault, sources and rumors still claim that the company’s low-cost brand, Dacia, might enter the UK market as soon as 2010, despite the tough economy.

These claims actually claim that thanks to the Sandero five-door hatchback and the upcoming Duster budget crossover, Dacia will certainly attract many people considering buying a cheap but reliable car. Also, the promotion it has been getting from the UK’s best auto show, Top Gear, didn’t hurt either, and I’m sure Renault wants to profit as soon as possible.

Until it reaches the British Isles though, Dacia is still experiencing strong sales in the territories it has seen models launched, largely thanks to many scrappage (think Cash for Clunkers) schemes by various governments.


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Dacia Duster, the first Romanian crossover, has been unveiled in the form a special edition

Aiming to profit from the hype that the Dacia Sandero got after the first episode of the newest season of Top Gear, Renault has officially revealed the first crossover (or SUV according to some) of the Romanian brand Dacia.

Now this isn’t a formal unveil, which will take place before Christmas, as Renault revealed a special edition of the Dacia Duster, prepped for the famous Trophee Andros competition, which takes place on some dangerous, snow-covered mountain roads.

The special model will be piloted by none other than famous racing driver Alain Prost, in the aforementioned competition. The model has, of course, been prepped by the Renault Sport division, being outfitted with a big 3-liter V6 engine, placed at the rear-center side of the car, developing 350 HP and 360 Nm at 5,500 rpm. A tubular chassis and a sequential six-speed gearbox have also been added to the model, as well as a limited slip diff and a system which will allow all four wheels to help in the cornering of the lightweight model, which will weight around 950 kg (2,094 lbs).

Overall, this special Dacia Duster is looking pretty good, but I do have some doubts if this is the face with which the production-ready model will be presented in December. What do you think? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


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