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There are two engine variants of the Dacia Duster currently on sale in the UK, a 1.6 normally aspirated petrol only available in Access trim, and a 1.5 turbo diesel in Ambiance and Laureate trim. Both produce around the same amount of BHP (105 vs. 110), but a vast difference in torques, 148Nm for the petrol and 240Nm for the diesel.
Last week DaciaForum.co.uk had the opportunity to test the 2WD petrol and diesel models side by side at the industry recognised testing grounds of Millbrook Proving Ground, utilising the "Hill" route and the high speed "Bowl". This gave us ample experience to see how each Duster performed on steep, challenging roads and also at maximum speed safely away from the speed cameras. These routes are used by car manufacturers to test their vehicles, and also famously appeared in the Top Gear episode with the lorries on an "Alpine Route"!

What are they like to drive?

First up was the petrol Access Duster. Upon pulling away, it pleasantly surprised with its nippy acceleration, and zingy, eager to rev engine (the 105bhp 1.6 petrol has a stated 0-62 of 11.5 seconds). It felt brisk, although not quick, along the lead in roads to the Hill route. This sensation lasted only for a few minutes though, as once we hit the slopes of the hill route, it quickly became apparent that this was an engine that needed to be worked hard to keep any kind of momentum. It did come as a bit of a surprise to be fair, as the Duster has a relatively low kerb weight (1160kg for the 2WD and 1250kg for the 4WD), which we thought would lend itself to a reasonable power to weight ratio. It certainly didn't struggle with any of the hills, but it's more a case of maintaining momentum, changing down gears and trying to keep your speed up. 15 years ago I used to own a 1995 1.8 non-diesel Fiesta van, it was a bit like driving that, having to judge the road ahead, making sure you're in the correct gear to keep the momentum going, and ensuring that you keep the engine in its sweet spot. Now, compare this to the Renault sourced 1.5 dCi, an engine which apparently powers 1 in 3 of all new Renault models with just under 1 million units produced in 2010. This engine produces an extra 5bhp over the petrol model and an extra 92Nm of torque. The 5bhp is negligible; it's the extra torque that makes the big difference out on the roads. It enables the Duster to pull strongly up the hills, as the turbo gives it an urge which the petrol lacks. Gradients which had you changing down a gear in the petrol are now tackled with ease in the diesel. It feels much more alive, a youth in peak condition compared to a slightly asthmatic pensioner.

On the high speed bowl, there wasn't really much in it. Both got up to 100mph after some time (a vehicle of this size will always exert a larger wind footprint) and because we didn't have any form of timing gear with us, it's difficult to quantify exactly which is the quickest. It's largely irrelevant though as legally you're only allowed to do 70mph in the UK, but if you do decide to travel to Germany and venture on to one of its derestricted autobahns, rest assured you'd be able to do a ton. It was capable at that speed, albeit noisy with wind and road noise invading the cabin, wind more than road (A-pillars it seems).

Conclusion - Petrol or Diesel?

It's always a bit difficult when drawing a conclusion, as it's always subjective. Some people dislike diesels, whereas some love their characteristics. We've drawn our conclusion on a variety of factors. The 1.6 petrol "does the job", and it does so at a remarkable price point (£8995), but its left wanting. We didn't get the opportunity to try its towing abilities, but from our tests on the demanding hill routes, we know it'd be hard work. The diesel on the other hand, due to its extra torque, gives much greater flexibility, with it still strongly pulling up hills which the petrol was running out of breath on. This extra torque is also what'd help greatly when towing. There is a downside though, and that's long term reliability. There is still a large question mark over the latest generation of diesel engines due to Europe imposing ever stricter emission targets (the engines fitted to the Dacia meet Euro 5), and these are having long term effects with component failures (injectors, EGR valves, DPF's and DMF's). There are plenty of horror stories out there, a quick search for "failure" and one of the components mentioned previously will bring plenty of results. Although hopefully it's relative to how old your vehicle is when you purchase it, and how long you plan on keeping it for. So, we're torn really. The diesel has more power, and is by far the better vehicle to drive on a daily basis. The long term reliability of all diesel engines poses an unknown question mark though.

So for us, Dacia, if you're reading, please release a 2.0 petrol Duster!

With thanks to Dacia and the SMMT.

Click here to view the news
 

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A 2.0 petrol Duster ticks all the boxes in the Access model. A small price increase for it would not put off most buyers of Access models. Perhaps we should worry Dacia to make it available as a BI-FUEL model. Lpg would be a very tempting add on.
 

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There are two engine variants of the Dacia Duster currently on sale in the UK, a 1.6 normally aspirated petrol only available in Access trim, and a 1.5 turbo diesel in Ambiance and Laureate trim. Both produce around the same amount of BHP (105 vs. 110), but a vast difference in torques, 148Nm for the petrol and 240Nm for the diesel.Last week DaciaForum.co.uk had the opportunity to test the 2WD petrol and diesel models side by side at the industry recognised testing grounds of Millbrook Proving Ground, utilising the "Hill" route and the high speed "Bowl". This gave us ample experience to see how each Duster performed on steep, challenging roads and also at maximum speed safely away from the speed cameras. These routes are used by car manufacturers to test their vehicles, and also famously appeared in the Top Gear episode with the lorries on an "Alpine Route"!What are they like to drive?First up was the petrol Access Duster. Upon pulling away, it pleasantly surprised with its nippy acceleration, and zingy, eager to rev engine (the 105bhp 1.6 petrol has a stated 0-62 of 11.5 seconds). It felt brisk, although not quick, along the lead in roads to the Hill route. This sensation lasted only for a few minutes though, as once we hit the slopes of the hill route, it quickly became apparent that this was an engine that needed to be worked hard to keep any kind of momentum. It did come as a bit of a surprise to be fair, as the Duster has a relatively low kerb weight (1160kg for the 2WD and 1250kg for the 4WD), which we thought would lend itself to a reasonable power to weight ratio. It certainly didn't struggle with any of the hills, but it's more a case of maintaining momentum, changing down gears and trying to keep your speed up. 15 years ago I used to own a 1995 1.8 non-diesel Fiesta van, it was a bit like driving that, having to judge the road ahead, making sure you're in the correct gear to keep the momentum going, and ensuring that you keep the engine in its sweet spot. Now, compare this to the Renault sourced 1.5 dCi, an engine which apparently powers 1 in 3 of all new Renault models with just under 1 million units produced in 2010. This engine produces an extra 5bhp over the petrol model and an extra 92Nm of torque. The 5bhp is negligible; it's the extra torque that makes the big difference out on the roads. It enables the Duster to pull strongly up the hills, as the turbo gives it an urge which the petrol lacks. Gradients which had you changing down a gear in the petrol are now tackled with ease in the diesel. It feels much more alive, a youth in peak condition compared to a slightly asthmatic pensioner. On the high speed bowl, there wasn't really much in it. Both got up to 100mph after some time (a vehicle of this size will always exert a larger wind footprint) and because we didn't have any form of timing gear with us, it's difficult to quantify exactly which is the quickest. It's largely irrelevant though as legally you're only allowed to do 70mph in the UK, but if you do decide to travel to Germany and venture on to one of its derestricted autobahns, rest assured you'd be able to do a ton. It was capable at that speed, albeit noisy with wind and road noise invading the cabin, wind more than road (A-pillars it seems).Conclusion - Petrol or Diesel?It's always a bit difficult when drawing a conclusion, as it's always subjective. Some people dislike diesels, whereas some love their characteristics. We've drawn our conclusion on a variety of factors. The 1.6 petrol "does the job", and it does so at a remarkable price point (£8995), but its left wanting. We didn't get the opportunity to try its towing abilities, but from our tests on the demanding hill routes, we know it'd be hard work. The diesel on the other hand, due to its extra torque, gives much greater flexibility, with it still strongly pulling up hills which the petrol was running out of breath on. This extra torque is also what'd help greatly when towing. There is a downside though, and that's long term reliability. There is still a large question mark over the latest generation of diesel engines due to Europe imposing ever stricter emission targets (the engines fitted to the Dacia meet Euro 5), and these are having long term effects with component failures (injectors, EGR valves, DPF's and DMF's). There are plenty of horror stories out there, a quick search for "failure" and one of the components mentioned previously will bring plenty of results. Although hopefully it's relative to how old your vehicle is when you purchase it, and how long you plan on keeping it for. So, we're torn really. The diesel has more power, and is by far the better vehicle to drive on a daily basis. The long term reliability of all diesel engines poses an unknown question mark though.So for us, Dacia, if you're reading, please release a 2.0 petrol Duster!With thanks to Dacia and the SMMT.Click here to view the news
Thanks nick for the comparison.

I've only driven the diesel version, the petrol was not available.

As you've said I recognised the long term viability of the Diesel engine as being questionable.

My choice was the 4x4 access, petrol. A gear change here and there extra with a longer term view to running it made my decision , until the recent rust problem on the white models.

If dacia sort the white paint out , then for me it's 4x4 petrol duster.
 

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Good stuff, thanks. I've never owned a diesel-engined car before and I am loving it in my Ambiance and I've yet to reach that magic 900 miles mark. A couple of thoughts: on the long term reliability issue - what is 'long-term' and does it depend on how the engine is driven? And is engine component failure covered under the warranty? The future price of a new Duster (for example) and the answers to these things are relevant in terms of how long to keep the car and when and if to change it for another one after maybe three or four years.
 

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Hi lads,

great article thanks.

Well over here ..... they didn't even bother with the Access model, mostly due to it being a 1.6 petrol. Due to high road tax, petrol engines are a dead duck, let alone a 2lt petrol !!!!! I used to have a 2lt petrol Rover 620 back in the day ..... oh how the could go ..... did I mention the road tax ????

I got rid of 1.6 petrol Citron €572 tax , now I am a happy owener of Duster 1.5 Dci ....... €270 tax !!

Cheers
 

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Great article thanks alot,

I have had diesel for a number of years and love the torque this is a less stressful drive especially as a caravaner and running at top weight.
 

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I would suggest you think carefully about your journey profile. Diesel particulate filters (DPFs), another brilliant idea of our beloved European "Union", have made difficulties for diesels running short, around-town, trips. If you do long-distance commutes, or use your diesel primarily for long caravan hauls, fine. If your journeys are mainly short runs around town, forget a diesel. Any dealer worth his salt should enquire what sort of runs you do. If he recommends a diesel for short runs, find another dealer.

John
 

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We bought our diesel 4x2 Laureate in April and have done 3500+ miles. The Renault diesel engine is far more noisy than the VW and Fiat diesels that we also own. I would never buy a petrol engine again, We originally ordered a petrol 4x2 and was going to convert it to gas but Dacia wasn't well pleased with this idea. The company I work for (EcoSpeed Logistics in Bolton) run a number of gas vehicles without any problems, in the end we went for the diesel. No problems so far.
 

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Your usage profile obviously suits a diesel. Someone on one of the groups has, IIRC, an LPG Dacia. He lives in Romania, I believe. LPG is a jolly good option until that nice Mr Osborne cottons on to the fact that it's so much cheaper than petrol, he'd better double the duty.

John
 

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I've ran diesels for the greater part of my life. I've never, *never* had a serious engine failure.

It's true "the green boys" haven't done us a favour by enforcing stuff like EGR and DPF's, and some engines are noticably more vulnerable than others (for example, I know from my own experience Fords' Duratorq 1.6 which comes from the PSA group is a really dirty engine with lots of problems : oil feedback through the breather hose, damaging the MAF sensor, and clogging up the EGR valve in less than 3 years typically) while others don't skip a beat (the 1.8 Ford Duratorq, build by Ford, has none of these problems).

With an engine which is being used so widely as the K9K (Renault, Nissan, but also in the Mercedes A-Class) there's a good chance you'll be reading horror stories sooner or later. On the other hand, on both French and German fora where I'm active, I've yet to see a customer reporting a massive K9K failure with cars starting to hit the 200.000Km mark.

The only forum where I've seen a report of a massive injector failure was on a Dutch Logan Forum, and so far it was limited to one case.

That said, I know a renault tech personally, and he admitted serious problems with the K9K which plagued the design in the first 2 revisions (the 700 series in the Logan, the 792 in the Sandero 1) : especially ball bearing/crankshaft failures.

Starting the 3th revision of the K9K 896 (Duster) or 892 (Sandero present), these problems were solved.
 

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True, but those engines are a different design (F9q series) instead of the K9k's afaik.
 
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