Amidst the relentless onslaught of huge, expensive and needlessly flashy SUVs, allow us to present a refreshing alternative. It’s the new Dacia Duster Extreme SE, which takes the affable Renault-built crossover and gives it an aggressive makeover without taking things too far.
It uses the range-topping Prestige trimmed Duster as a starting point, with various styling tweaks and new equipment on the menu. The headline change is a set of 17-inch black alloy wheels, which go nicely with the Extreme SE-exclusive Urban Grey paintwork.
If preferred, there are seven other colours available. Whichever you go for, the mirrors caps, grille and roof bars get a Grey Quartz finish with orange details. On the boot meanwhile is ‘Duster’ lettering in black and satin chrome. Combined, this makes for a smart-looking dinky SUV we’d like to think of as a less ridiculous alternative to that Prior Design widebody Dacia Duster we were looking at not so long ago.
The cabin reflects the exterior changes, with orange and satin chrome air vent surrounds, a centre console trim surround in charcoal grey, piano black door panel inserts and orange-stitched seats.
In terms of new gear, Dacia has added plenty. Climate control, keyless go, a multi-view parking camera, a blind-spot warning system, heated seats and an acoustic windscreen all feature as standard. On infotainment duties is an eight-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone integration.
The range kicks off with a 1.0-litre inline-three petrol engine producing a humble 90bhp. A slightly pokier Bi-Fuel version can run on petrol or LPG and produces 100bhp, and there’s a 128bhp 1.3-litre inline-three. Topping the petrol line-up is a 148bhp unit hooked up to a dual-clutch automatic, while the sole diesel option is good for 113bhp. Depending on the chosen engine, front and four-wheel drive layouts are available.
It’s fairly pricey as far as Dacias go, but only a little more than a Prestige and way cheaper than most cars of this size. The range starts at £17,495 for the 90bhp inline-three, going up to £21,645 for a four-wheel drive diesel.