There has always been something reassuring about the Dacia Duster Access 4×4. As a proper old-school off-roader, it laughed in the face of watered-down crossovers, soft-touch plastics and fancy alloy wheels, offering cut-price 4×4 joy, if not to the masses, then to the readers of PetrolBlog.
But – with apologies to those who were expecting a clichéd quote from James May – there’s bad news: the Access 4×4 has bitten the dust, with Dacia opting not to retain the povo-off-roader on the second-generation Duster. If you see this as the end of an era, feel free to shed a few tears over a bottle of Ursus beer (other Romanian beverages are available).
— Groupe Renault UK PR (@RenaultUKPR) June 5, 2018
The Access trim remains – albeit with a £500 increase in price – but to secure a Duster 4×4, you must spend £13,595 on the new Essential trim level. That’s a £2,100 increase over the current Duster Access 4×4 with the same SCe 115 petrol engine.
In fairness to Dacia, the Essential trim adds body-coloured front and rear bumpers, manual air conditioning, a height adjustable driver’s seat, DAB radio, steering column-mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity. And the steel wheels remain, albeit in ‘Fidji’ guise, rather than the basic Access steelies.
And, in the real world, these things matter. Away from the safe and cosy confines of PetrolBlog, folk enjoy the driveway glamour of body-coloured bumpers and not having sweaty armpits as they make their way to B&Q. What’s more, in this world of connectivity, DAB and Bluetooth sit at the very bottom of Maslow’s triangle.
But we’ll miss the reassuringly simple UN-spec Duster Access 4×4, with its Glacier White paintwork, 16-inch ‘Eiger’ steel wheels and black bumpers. Sure, the second coming of the Dacia Duster Access will retain the look, but Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon wouldn’t be too impressed if their UN special envoy is halted by a lack of off-road ability.
Yes, a different guy is running the United Nations, but he doesn’t have a name quite as memorable as his predecessors.
Of course, the new Duster will be much improved. Safety assist systems and connectivity are par for the course these days, while the front end styling retains its French-Romanian look. Around the back, Dacia has opted for Jeep Renegade-style rear lights, which look like a pair of dead-face emojis. Not good.
You can understand the logic behind Dacia’s thinking. Although it won’t like to admit it, the Access trim level has always been a bit of a door-opener: a way of getting people into the showroom before up-selling to an improved specification.
The £9,995 two-wheel drive Duster Access will retain its role of range appetiser, leaving the rest of the range to account for the vast majority of sales.
But PetrolBlog will miss the UN-spec Duster Access 4×4, with its Intermarche-friendly black bumpers, steel wheels and Lada Niva-rivalling utilitarian character.
It hasn’t quite gone – deliveries of the new Duster will begin in July – but you’ll need to act fast if you want to grab a rare slice of brand new PetrolBloggyness. Do it for Kofi.