Review: Dacia Duster Commercial (2015)

Rating:

Practical and rugged, available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive, entry-level models cost less than £10,000.

Disappointing handling and refinement, rear windows are vulnerable to damage, full-size bulkhead costs extra, pick-ups offer better payload capacity.

Recently Added To This Review

14 April 2015 Dacia launched Duster Commercial

The new Duster Commercial models – available in 4x2 and 4x4 guises – have been created at the specific request of Dacia UK and Dacia Ireland, where car-derived vans account for 30 per cent... Read more

Dacia Duster Commercial (2015): At A Glance

The Duster Commercial is built to the same blueprint as the Dacia car range, which means it's basic and cheap to buy. Prices start at less than £10,000 and all models will carry a Euro pallet and a maximum payload of 550kg. Admittedly, the Duster scores low when it comes to on-road refinement and handling, but it’s near unbeatable on value and surprisingly competent off-road. 

Dacia is no stranger to commercial vehicles – it’s been selling them in Europe since the 1970s – but 2015 marked the first time that it officially offered a factory-built van in the UK. The Duster Commercial is effectively a factory-conversion of the standard car, which means the rear seats have been replaced with a 1.4 metre cargo deck and the rear doors have been retained, along with the windows.

The Duster Commercial has just one engine - Renault's tried and test 1.5-litre dCi diesel - with 107PS and peak torque of 240Nm. Four-wheel drive versions are more expensive, but worth paying the extra for due to their impressive off-roading ability, which allows the Duster to reach rural or remote areas with ease. 

Inside the Duster Commercial is unapologetically basic, with lots of cheap and dark plastics - there's little in the way of standard equipment. The load area is practical though and will take anything up to 1.4 metres in length, while the metre width between the wheel arches allows a euro pallet to be carried sideways.  

The Duster does have a few weak points. There's no protection for the windows, the interior is prone to damage and there's no full-size bulkhead fitted as standard. The rear window also lacks cladding or cover, which allows prying eyes to see what's being carried in the back.  

The Dacia won’t win any prizes for refinement - the engine is noisy and there’s lots of road noise. The handling also lacks precision and feel, while the suspension is prone to pitching heavily in the corners, which usually results in unsecured loads toppling over in the back. Yet, despite its obviously shortcomings, the Dacia Duster is still outstanding value and an attractive choice for those who need a small van with off-road capability.

What does a Dacia Duster Commercial (2015) cost?

List Price from £10,295 +VAT
Contract hire from £195.00 +VAT pm
Lease from £194.00 +VAT pm

Dacia Duster Commercial (2015): What's It Like Inside?

The Dacia Duster Commercial is effectively a factory-conversion of the standard car, which means the rear seats have been replaced with a 1.4 metre cargo deck that will carry up to 550kg. Admittedly, it's no match for a standard pick-up - most will carry at least one-tonne - while the larger Mitsubishi Outlander is better with 705kg. 

The Duster will carry a Euro pallet sideways though, thanks to the metre width between the wheel arches plus the large tailgate makes it easy to load items onto the low plastic floor. The load area is effectively a false floor, which is made up of toughened plastic tray. Two tie down points are fitted as standard, but we'd have liked to see a couple more added due to the Duster's vulnerability to leaning in corners. 

The Duster lacks any meaningful load area protection, with the plastic trim that covers the doors and pillars easily marked and scuffed. The cabin is also carpeted - carried over from the passenger car- which again will easily be damaged and marked. Given the choice, we'd have liked to see the Duster get a tough rubber floor, which would have been far easier to clean. 

The rear windows are vulnerable to damage too and only have a light film covering for privacy. The tailgate window lacks any form of protection - or indeed covering - which makes it easy for anyone to see what you're carrying in the back. There's no full-size bulkhead either, although a steel or mesh bulkhead can be specified as an additional option. Two-wheel drive Dusters gets 1150 litres of load space, while four-wheel drive models lose 150 litres to accommodate the all-road running gear. 

Standard equipment includes roof bars, electric front windows and Bluetooth. Laureate versions add alloy wheels, satin chrome roof bars, side sills and scuff plates, as well as cruise control with a speed limiter and air conditioning. 

What's the Dacia Duster Commercial (2015) like to drive?

The Duster Commercial is offered with just one engine - a Renault-sourced 1.5-litre dCi diesel - which is also used in the Kangoo van. Like the Kangoo, the Duster has lots of low-range torque and is impressive on fuel with even four-wheel drive versions boast a claimed 54.3mpg. 

The four-cylinder diesel will produce 107PS, but return 240Nm of torque from just 1750rpm, which gives it sufficient pace, even when carrying a maximum 550kg. Despite its SUV size and nature, the Duster isn't an outstanding towing vehicle, with two-wheel drive versions offering a modest 1200kg. Things improve if you pay more for four-wheel drive, with its 1500kg limit and selectable drive modes or lockable four-wheel drive. 

The Duster doesn't particularly impress on the road though, with its overassisted steering providing little precision or feedback in the corners. The suspension is also easily unsettled and prone to crashing over potholes and pitching heavily into all but the slightest of corners.

The 1.5 dCi engine can be rather vocal too and the Duster's limited sound proofing makes it a deafening experience when accelerating hard. However, it is cheap to run and front-wheel drive models will return a claimed 56.5mpg. 

The Duster has a comfortable driving position and is bearable enough on the motorway, with the engine noise returning to a low pitched rumble at 70mph. However, the film covered rear windows restrict visibility and this generates some sizeable blind spots when it comes to changing lanes or leaving a narrow junction.  

Real MPG average for a Dacia Duster Commercial (2015)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

86%

Real MPG

40–57 mpg

MPGs submitted

8

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.