Dacia Duster Expression TCe 130: long-term test review

First report: the spacious and well specced Dacia Duster SUV is proving to be a family favourite

  • 4.0 out of 5

    How we review carsBuy used for less at Buyacar


    The Dacia Duster’s updated look has given it a much-needed refresh, with many people confusing it for an all-new model. There are some foibles, but the Duster is a great all-round car that offers a lot for its modest asking price.

    • Mileage: 3,017
    • Economy: 38.9mpg
    • The second-generation Dacia Duster has been on sale since 2017 and in many ways it’s starting to show its age, but a mid-life facelift arrived last year and was then quickly followed by another update as the budget Romanian brand revised its logo.

      This latest refresh has given the Duster a distinctive new look, with the company’s ‘link’ logo, which consists of the letters D and C merging in the middle, dominating the car’s grille. It’s one of the first things people notice about the Duster, with my dad even thinking it was an all-new car. It’s amazing that such a subtle redesign can have such an impact.

      Even my son Hugo has been taken in by the Duster’s charms. He’s at the age where he’s starting to really get into his cars and he usually talks about Lamborghinis and Porsches, but he loves the way the Duster looks and always asks if we can use it whenever we have to leave the house.

      The fresh look otherwise hides a car that’s pretty much unchanged since its launch, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We loved the Mk2 Duster when it first arrived and our opinion hasn’t really changed. It’s a car that offers a lot for its rather modest price tag. The model that’s joined our test fleet is a mid-spec Expression TCe 130, which costs just £19,695. It can be hard to find any new car on sale for less than £20,000 these days, let alone one that offers a fraction of the amount of kit the Duster has, or one that drives as well and has anywhere near the amount of space.

      More reviews

      Car group tests
      • Dacia Duster vs MG ZS
      In-depth reviews
      • Dacia Duster review
      Long-term tests
      • Long term test review: Dacia Duster 4×2 Comfort
      Road tests
      • New Dacia Duster Expression 130 TCE petrol review
      • New Dacia Duster Extreme SE 2022 review
      • Dacia Duster petrol review
      • New Dacia Duster Bi-Fuel 2020 review
      Used car tests
      • Used Dacia Duster (Mk2, 2018-date) review

      Electric front and rear windows, automatic headlights, a rear parking camera, automatic air-conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen and four USB ports (two in the front and two in back) are all included as standard, so it’s not exactly short on creature comforts.

      However, where the Duster really excels is practicality. It’s a perfect fit for my family of four, thanks to a big boot that’s more than capable of taking a buggy and a couple of bags, and plenty of interior space in the airy cabin. Two child seats fit in the back without having to squeeze them in, and there’s enough legroom so that the children don’t kick the back of the seats in front.

      While the interior quality is best described as cheap and cheerful, and the hard plastics can be easily scratched, in general it’s perfect for a family because it offers relatively low maintenance. The plastic trim is easy to wipe down without leaving any stains, and the cloth seats look as good as new after a quick sponge.

      The Duster is also quite pleasant from behind the wheel, mainly thanks to the fact it’s much lighter than it looks. Weighing in at around 1,300kg means that it handles well on a twisty road, with body roll that’s noticeable as opposed to intrusive. The 1.3-litre petrol engine is smooth and relatively economical, averaging almost 39mpg over the 3,000 miles I’ve covered.


      But it’s not all good news, because a few early niggles have started to turn into frustrations, and by far the biggest is the problematic Apple CarPlay connection. The Duster doesn’t come with a built-in sat-nav, so my reliance on CarPlay is even greater than in some other cars, but the connection keeps dropping. A few times I’ve been happily driving along, following the route guidance, and it randomly disconnects, leaving me blind as to which turn I should be taking next.

      It’s wired, so you’d think it would be pretty foolproof, but it keeps on happening. Simply unplugging it and plugging it back in again fixes it, however it’s not something you want to keep doing while driving. I’ve never had a problem with this particular cable in other cars, so I can’t see how it’s an issue at my end, but I will test the connection with some other cables to see if the problem persists.

      I’ve also had an issue with the carpet mat getting stuck on top of the clutch pedal. The first time it happened, I thought there was a bigger problem because the clutch was very slow to release, meaning I had to jam my foot underneath to lift it up. It was then that I realised that it was the mat holding the pedal down. I’ve clipped the mat back in place, but if it happens again I’ll have to remove it altogether.

      Model: Dacia Duster Expression TCe 130 4×2
      On fleet since: July 2023
      Price new: £19,695
      Engine: 1.3-litre 4cyl petrol, 128bhp
      CO2/tax: 141g/km/£215 (1st year)
      Options: Arizona Orange metallic paint (£650), spare wheel (£300)
      Insurance*: Group: 19/Quote: £544
      Mileage: 3,017
      Economy: 38.9mpg
      Any problems? None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

      Source: Read Full Article