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Great value family car that doesn't feel cheap; It's no wonder the Dacia Duster is proving so popular, writes EDWARD STEPHENS.

Byline: EDWARD STEPHENS

DACIA'S Duster is certainly cleaning up when it comes to sales, with a staggering 95 per cent more models sold in the first half of this year than for the same period for 2018.

And with prices starting from PS9,995 for a spacious family car it's hardly surprising.

Step up to a Comfort spec model with a beefy 130bhp engine under the bonnet, as driven here, and the price goes up to almost PS15,000 but you would be hard pressed to find better value for money anywhere.

Dacia, a brand which belongs to Renault, was launched in the UK in 2013 and now has a firm following.

The first generation Dusters were a little basic but still excellent value. With the second generation Dacia has improved things dramatically, producing a car on which not only has every body panel been changed but a whole lot of creature comforts have been added too.

Now it's a car that really is enjoyable to drive, easy to live with, spacious and quiet.

My week with a Duster came immediately after driving a PS318,000 Bentley Mulsanne Speed for four days yet it still managed to impress.

Introduced at the very end of last year the new 130bhp engine mated to six-speed manual gearbox offers gutsy performance through the gears and impressively quick mid range acceleration.

At the same time it's surprisingly quiet. In fact it's 50 per cent quieter than the previous generation model thanks to more sound absorbing material in the cabin and engine department and thicker glass for the front windows.

So while most cheap cars feel, well cheap, the Duster doesn't.

Satin chrome roof bars and door mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, side sills and front and rear scuff plates all give it a nice chunky, distinctive look and the extra height means good all round vision.

Inside there's air conditioning, electric windows all round, cruise control, DAB radio, a reversing camera as well as parking sensors. A seven-inch touchscreen sits in the centre of the dashboard below the air vents to give access to numerous on-board functions as well as acting as a monitor for the satellite navigation and reversing camera.

In fact it's difficult to find any corner that has been cut in order to give this Duster such a competitive price.

The tailgate extends right down to the rear bumper for easy loading and the boot can accommodate 445 litres of luggage with the rear seatbacks in position and a generous 1,623 litres with them lowered.

The Duster's high stance, which makes getting in and out very easy, means there's some roll on corners but nothing to complain about and it's all kept well under control so you can still enjoy fast cornering when the family aren't on board.

The Dacia Duster in its latest guise does more than it says on the tin.

It now not only offers great value but good refinement and genuinely enjoyable motoring.

FAST FACTS MODEL: Dacia Duster Comfort TCe PRICE: PS14,995 MECHANICAL: 130bhp, 1,333cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six speed manual gearbox.

MAX SPEED: 118 mph 0-62MPH: 11.1 secs COMBINED MPG: 41.5 INSURANCE: 14E CO2 EMISSIONS: 139 g/km BIK: 30% WARRANTY: 3 years / 60,000 miles

CAPTION(S):

The Dacia Duster starts at under PS10,000 yet good refinement and genuinely enjoyable motoring

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 1, 2019
Words:565
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