Like its even cheaper Sandero sister, the Duster sits on the Renault-Nissan B0 platform which, for the avoidance of doubt is B Zero, not a personal hygiene issue. Relative to the Yeti to which it would so love to be compared, it’s a little longer, wider and sits on a larger wheelbase so whatever you’re losing, it’s not metal for the money.

The 2017 update has seen the Duster get a more distinctive exterior, with the new front grille dominating alongside an upgraded headlight system and bumpers. Inside the interior has been improved both in terms of quality and ergonomically, to allow it to retain its position as a compelling choice for those looking for a cheap, rugged small SUV.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Its EuroNCAP rating is bettered by the original Ford Focus

The platform mandates the use of traverse engines, in this case a 1.2-, 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel. The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine has 123bhp while the bigger capacity 1.6-litre petrol produces a miserly 112bhp and the diesel produces 107bhp. For the first time, the Duster will also recieve Renault's EDC dual clutch automatic gearbox, a decision driven, Kugler says, by the increase in sales of automatics - especially the dual clutch vareity and the limited effect it has on emissions.

Should you choose a 4x4 version, the all-wheel drive system comes courtesy of Nissan and provides three modes: front drive, permanent four-wheel drive or ‘automatic’ that that switch between the two according to need.

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Cleverly these Dusters also come with an unusually low first gear ratio in place of a heavy, complex and expensive low ratio transfer box for off-roading.

As you might expect the suspension of front drive Dusters varies not at all from the class norm with struts at the front and a torsion beam rear axle. However four-wheel drive models receive an independent four link rear end that provides better wheel control and, in theory at least, superior ride and handling, in exchange for a substantial 67 litre reduction in boot capacity.

A word now about safety. For years now there has been an almost automatic presumption that any major new car from a major organisation competing in the market mainstream (Dacia has been owned by Renault since 1999) would almost inevitably earn a five star EuroNCAP crash rating. Not the Duster, which received a three star rating when tested in 2011.

Dacia says this is because the overall star rating cannot exceed the rating for the worst component of the test and it was clobbered in the ‘safety assist’ category by the test vehicle lacking stability control. It contends that had the car been so equipped (an option on diesel Dusters but not available on petrol cars), a more conventional, but still unimpressive, an overall four star rating would have been recorded.

Scratch the surface though, and you'll see a car that recorded four stars for adult protection, five stars for child protection and four for pedestrian safety.

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