Our "own" car reviews

NooDle

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^ excellent write up, I'd love to visit those kinds of used car lots... sadly here in Euroland it's very hard to find anything similar

even the 2nd hand ones will usually ask for 10k?+ for something that's decend and hasn't done a million miles.
Finding a 1500? gem in one of those lots is quite impossible here...
 

public

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Did the Magna even have digital instrumentation? :)
 

public

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Dacia Duster 1.6 16V 4WD

Dacia Duster 1.6 16V 4WD



Pics by Raparperi

Sipping on some excellent, Aeropress-made dark coffee, I feel like it's time to put down a few words about the less painful one of my two driving experiences on Thursday.

Before attending the Ahvenisto trackday meet, me and Raparperi scheduled to go check out the most interesting product ever to come from Romania: the Dacia Duster. Yes: despite being mostly centred around used cars, from time to time there's a new car that catches my attention. The Duster's USP is its MSRP: for under 15k eur, you get a small SUV, not a small city car like every other car in that price range. Of course, the cheapest model is a completely stripped FWD edition; you do not get roof racks or alloy wheels, nor elecric windows or a sound system. Power steering is standard, which almost surprises me.

First impressions were positive, as we sat in the showroom car. It was a fully loaded 4WD example in a champagney, mildewy hue; shutting the doors with a satisfying thunk and prodding the plastics, we breathed in the Duster atmosphere. "Smells like a Volvo", I remarked. "Looks like Lidl", said Raparperi, as he noted the variety of different plastics around the dash. Soft touch on the airbag cover, hard knock plastic on the glovebox lid, caramel decorative plastic chucked everywhere. But the trunk was usefully-sized, the rear-seat sitting position comfortable with good head room; there was a lot that made sense here.

Leaving Raparperi to look at a used 2006 MX-5, I braced myself and went to the dealer booth to talk us a test car. After a while, I emerged again, with suspicious white documents in my hand. "Bought the car already?" "Almost, but let's go drive the thing."

So, we were led to this magnificent metallic black example nestled between Logan MCV:s in the back. The dealer talked us through, commenting on various extras that the base model I had enguired about would definitely not have (I had in my innocent mind an appliance white FWD one - or perhaps black. On steelies). Started up, pulled off and got ready for the Romanian experience. 623 kilometres on the clock, almost box-fresh. This would be good.

And at first, I wasn't disappointed. Cabin noise was pleasingly low, steering was relatively light but offered a secure feel; the car felt like a real car. There was nothing light-weight or penny-pinch about it - it definitely reminded me of a Clio or a somewhat recent Megane , down to the derpy indicator ping. Nothing creaked, nothing jittered. The car must not have enough parts to rub against each other.

We turned on the main road and I gave the car some stick. There was a raucous engine noise, then I had to change gear. Again and again. Acceleration simply didn't happen, but there was plenty of gear changing for me to do while listening to the engine and looking at the rev gauge. Six speeds, but ridiculously short gearing; sixth gear was useable at 60km/h, at 2000rpm. As Raparperi leafed through the brochure, he noted the 1.6 16V Renault engine gave its peak power at 5750rpm. Redline starts at 6000. Hell yeah. On a light incline, I demonstrated the gutlessness in sixth; "Pedal in the carpet. Up. In the carpet. Up." The engine note didn't change for the tiniest bit.

I do have to admit; while the car has zero grunt, it sticks to law-abiding speeds on the highway with low road noise levels. And you need not wish for cruise control at all, if you simply keep your foot buried to the floor at all times. Simple engineering at its finest.

As we came off the main road, onto some gravelly bits with potholes, I was pleasantly surprised as the suspension handled the uneven surface with dignity. No harsh sounds, and again no jittering. Everything felt well-screwed together. This car could probably be beaten down gravel roads to summer cottages all day long. 4WD is selectable on a dial on the dash, and like the dial, the rest of the four-running gear is Nissan-sourced.

It was only when I parked the car for photos, that I confirmed my suspicions; some of the components underneath are in no way protected against the elements. Surface rust covered the axle parts on a brand new car. The only person to accept anything like this was the dealer; asking about the rust, he used the classic line "They all do that, sir." So, if it's new-car bliss you're after, you must not be picky about a little rustiness here and there.
To be honest, the bodyshell itself had no rust; it was only present on the components. And rustproofing the car well, with these parts sandblasted and treated, they would probably pose no problems later on. But still, having to fix something would increase the low, low asking price. Maybe I could ask for a rusty bonnet for a cheaper purchase.

So, I drove the Duster back with mixed feelings. Chucking it into some twisty bits in a suburban neighbourhood, it felt well-planted on the road and gave a very secure sense of control and solidity. But like Romanian wine, it doesn't travel well (judging by a few sips of Feteasca); it doesn't have the strength that comes in handy when crossing countries, and even when stuck on a train car and a ship deck and hauled here, it ends up corrupted and a little bit past its prime. It would seem the thing to do would be to enjoy it in its home country, without having the unforgiving Finnish climate treat it like it treats Romanian beggars.



















 
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Lastsoul

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Oh boy, I'd love to test drive the Sandero to be part of the Dacia Experience :D

Great review! :)
 

Raparperi

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Back to using my feet, bicycle and the bus.
We should clearly make a habit of this, it was loads of fun :D

Personally I didn't have any expectations of the Duster, other than having heard public likes it for some reason and others...don't :p

The sales brocuhe said "The big fenders located up high show that the Dacia Duster is a proper off-road vehicle." So, that's all it takes eh? And in the back they had this slogan jokingly stating "A proper car for this price. Are you sure it's not a joke?". Well, brochures are brochures and marketing people always make up silly shit like that, so no point in blaming it on the car :)

The car felt solid, doors were surprisingly light to operate but still closed with a pleasing thunk. Driving over potholes was...well, nothing really. The Duster just sailed through them effortlessly without bouncing or rattling about. Engine was gutless, gears were ridiculously short and the interior plastics were horrid. Oh and hey, public forgot to mention the duck(s) in the exhaust :lol:

[video=youtube;-Jli3i1Sy5g]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jli3i1Sy5g[/video]
 
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Night_Hawk

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Heh, my Corolla can use 5th at 60kph, 3000rpm at 100kph too.

Sort of off topic but I think my car might potentially have a different transmission than most other corollas.

I should get some small reviews up here sometime myself.
 

frankiess

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Ah you see public, with the Duster you wouldn't crash at trackdays.

Also, while I see what you're on about, and I like the review, I'd never buy one of these. I mean, sure it's a solid Lada-type motor, and with proper rust-proofing it'll last over 700km. But having a dealer stuck with the misconception that "they all do that" is an acceptable excuse for poor import-preparation is something I can't live with. I've just spent 15k? on a car, damn it. I want to at least have a dealer I can trust to inform me of the possible faults and upcoming maintenance needs. Mazda and Mercedes seem to be the only brands around here with smart and customer-oriented dealers.

Why can't I not think of it as a Dacia Dyson..
 
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NooDle

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Excellent... I like them too since they're indeed the Lidl (or Aldi if you prefer) of cars
I wouldn't mind the rust, since I wouldn't be taking it offroad, and the lack of torque can be compensated by choosing the rather good 1.5 dCI unit from Renault with 110hp I presume?

It's even cheaper over here, around 12k? for a bare bones one, which is just pocket money
Sure it won't last 1100 years but for 12k you can hardly argue...
 

AiR

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The petrol engines Renault have excavated for the Duster aren't something anyone should buy. The 1.5 dCi is much better. Also more expensive. A fully loaded Duster is upwards ?18k and you still need to turn on the wipers and washers separately when washing the windscreen. Headlight washers doesn't exist, which is bad if you're someplace like Finland and want to see the road ahead. Doesnt have lights on ignition either. No doubt there will be another iteration of the Duster, it has been a success for Dacia, and it'll be interesting to see if they fix these niggles with that. There's not that much to work on. The supposed lack of corrosion prevention is strange though, as mother Renault is no doubt one of the best in the industry at treating anti-corrosion measures. The Duster have been given fine marks by the corrosion reviewers too I see.

Maybe the rear axle has been changed in production after the car was reviewed by the rust-people...

Update
1 year old Sandero. Not sure what's going on with the arches.


Long thread and source of picture in german http://www.dustercommunity.de/fahrwerk/rost-probleme-am-fahrwerk-und-auspuff/

Pretty hefty goods though, but unlike Noodle up here we (and the vehicle inspection) are allergic to rust ;)
 
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public

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Ah you see public, with the Duster you wouldn't crash at trackdays.
That would only be the case if I constantly looked at the sunvisor to remind me!

Mazda and Mercedes seem to be the only brands around here with smart and customer-oriented dealers.
You see, they've had their share of rust issues and have had the time to learn to deal with them...

The Duster is actually a great looking car. I like it's honesty. I'd love to have a go in one.
I really like the chunky, masculine styling. It reminds me of the first M-class concepts Mercedes-Benz turned out.

Pretty hefty goods though, but unlike Noodle up here we (and the vehicle inspection) are allergic to rust ;)
I am, too :) The body doesn't seem to be eager to rust, it's just those components. But honestly, if I were to buy one I would make it clear I would want mine rust free.
 
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NooDle

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Pretty hefty goods though, but unlike Noodle up here we (and the vehicle inspection) are allergic to rust ;)
Hey, of course I prefer my car rust free, and there's no way that I would accept it on a brand new car.
OTOH if I would buy this Dacia a few years down the road with say 50k kms under its belt, that kind of rust is not THAT bad.

Surface rust is OK here to pass the yearly inspection, having holes and/or structural damage is not.
My muffler was made of rust until I changed it earlier this year, I was surprised the exhaust still sounded normal, since it was nearly rusted completely through.

Still, mostly my bad for not really washing the car a lot + having really bad winters the last couple of years = salt.
 

AiR

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Really bad winters can be a good thing, if it's cold enough salt won't help and they stop spreading it. Of course that means people have a tendency to end up in ditches. Must be something particular with the flyrusted part on the Duster, the rest of the underbody looks perfectly fine.
 

Lastsoul

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That wheel hub assembly is cast iron and it can keep rusting like that for the next 25 years without a problem. That's why they are probably barely painted at all in the factory. Cars in this price level have only paint in parts where it matters (exterior looks and rust proofing). Of course for me too that surface rust on a brand new car would matter, but I guess majority of the Dacia customers don't care as long as it doesn't cause any problems.
 

NooDle

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Really bad winters can be a good thing, if it's cold enough salt won't help and they stop spreading it. Of course that means people have a tendency to end up in ditches. Must be something particular with the flyrusted part on the Duster, the rest of the underbody looks perfectly fine.
You've obviously never been here. Standard procedure is as follows

1) forget to order salt
2) wait until there's a ton of ice/snow on the road
3) get a billion complaints about ice/snow on the road because people can't drive
4) order all the salt in the world
5) all snow is melting, meanwhile
6) spread salt by the bucketload on a dry road when it's 5?C outside
7) now all the salt is gone and there's another snow storm coming.
8) start again at 1)
 

Lastsoul

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Yeah, it's true that middle-european countries use tons more of salt than northern countries. I'm pretty sure the salt itself is a bit different, because it doesn't make the car rust nearly as much as the shit they use in Finland (don't know about Sweden or Norway).
 

AiR

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You've obviously never been here. Standard procedure is as follows

1) forget to order salt
2) wait until there's a ton of ice/snow on the road
3) get a billion complaints about ice/snow on the road because people can't drive
4) order all the salt in the world
5) all snow is melting, meanwhile
6) spread salt by the bucketload on a dry road when it's 5?C outside
7) now all the salt is gone and there's another snow storm coming.
8) start again at 1)
Well there's your problem :D

Salt stops working at -18, but the guideline says to stop spreading it at -6. Last winter was good in that sense, plenty of snow that didnt thaw.

Yeah, it's true that middle-european countries use tons more of salt than northern countries. I'm pretty sure the salt itself is a bit different, because it doesn't make the car rust nearly as much as the shit they use in Finland (don't know about Sweden or Norway).
Road Administration says the salt is 97% NaCl, 3% CaSO4 and a little Na4Fe(CN)6 x 3H2O (Sodium ferrocyanide).
 

NooDle

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Well there's your problem :D

Salt stops working at -18, but the guideline says to stop spreading it at -6. Last winter was good in that sense, plenty of snow that didnt thaw.

Road Administration says the salt is 97% NaCl, 3% CaSO4 and a little Na4Fe(CN)6 x 3H2O (Sodium ferrocyanide).

I dunno about different composition of salt, but they do use it wrong over here... many many tonnes of salt could be saved by just waiting a few hours, because t? is > 0?

Also, -18? is rare here, but the last couple of years we've had periods of several weeks of -5? to -10?C, so salt is pointless, since the thawed salt water will freeze again in a couple of hours...

Isn't gravel tons better for everything (road, car, nature)
All our roads are shit now, many cars are rusting (even non French ones) and many birds are nearing extinction cause all they had to drink in winter was super salty water....

we generally fail at anything snow/ice related
 

frankiess

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Isn't gravel tons better for everything (road, car, nature)
All our roads are shit now, many cars are rusting (even non French ones) and many birds are nearing extinction cause all they had to drink in winter was super salty water....

we generally fail at anything snow/ice related
Oh, you just read a daily Finnish newspaper and you'll see we're pushing our way to the head of the failboat at an unbelievable rate.

The only downside I've heard to gravel is that it chips off paint and destroys windows. Compared to completely obliterating cars by turning metal into rusty grit, polluting ground waters, converting snowy weather into hazardous goop, well.. I'll rather pay for my share of destroyed windows, thank you very much.
 
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