The Dacia Duster’s rugged cabin feels reasonably durable, but there’s no hiding the numerous cheap, scratchy plastic trims and lack of equipment in basic Access models
There isn’t much to get excited about inside the Dacia Duster – especially if you go for an entry-level Access model. These bargain-basement versions don’t even come with a stereo and almost every surface of the dashboard and centre console is awash with hard, brittle black plastic.
Step up to an Essential model and you do actually get a stereo – alongside some grey interior trims instead of just boring black items – but you’ll want to pay a little extra for a Dacia Duster in Comfort guise. These mid-range models get a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, some more supportive front seats and a few extra chrome trims on the doors, air vents and steering wheel to brighten things up (a bit).
Unfortunately, even top-spec Dusters in Prestige trim come with many of the same hard scratchy black plastics as the most basic versions. Sure, there’s a padded armrest fitted to the driver’s seat, but every other surface you’ll regularly touch – from the door handles to the glovebox lid – feels hard and brittle.
You don’t expect a five-star interior in such a cheap SUV, but not fitting a stereo to entry-level cars feels like a compromise too far from Dacia
Entry-level Dacia Dusters in Access guise don’t even come with a stereo – let along a full-blow infotainment system. Even if you pay extra for an Essential model, you’ll have to make do with a fairly basic stereo system, but at least it comes with DAB digital radio and a Bluetooth connection for your phone.
Go for a mid-range Comfort or range-topping Prestige model and this basic setup is replaced by a much more modern 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Sure, it’s not a patch on what you get in the likes of the much more expensive VW T-Roc, but it runs the Renault Kadjar’s built-in touchscreen close in the ease-of-use stakes.
This is partly thanks to the fact that the Dacia Duster’s infotainment system is so basic that’s it’s pretty much impossible to get confused by its blocky, square menu graphics. You don’t get any physical shortcut buttons to switch between its key features, but the large, colourful icons are at least clear and easy to read on the move.
Sadly, the screen isn’t very responsive, and you can’t swipe to scroll quickly through a list of phone numbers or radio stations. As a result, you might find friends whose names begin with A get quite a few more calls than those languishing around the tail-end of the alphabet…
You can’t upgrade the Dacia Duster’s system with voice-control features or smartphone mirroring like in most small SUVs, but at least Comfort and Prestige models come with built-in sat nav as standard. The sluggish screen means entering an address takes a relatively long time, but at least the maps are bright, colourful and clear.
One downside, however, is that the screen’s mounted rather low down on the Duster’s dashboard which means it takes longer to glance down and check the map than in some other SUVs. Another annoying feature is that the USB and Aux inputs are mounted above the infotainment display so the cables drape down in front of the touchscreen.
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