This year’s winner of the 4x4 award is a newcomer to the LCV sector, the Dacia Duster Commercial.
Based on the Dacia Duster compact SUV that Renault’s budget brand launched in 2013, the logically named Commercial was one of the star attractions at the 2015 Commercial Vehicle Show in April.
The Duster Commercial is powered by a 1.5-litre 107hp dCi 110 diesel engine and comes in two trim levels: Ambiance and Laureate and in 4x2 and 4x4 drive formats.
As a car-derived van the Duster is not in the heavy weight division of load luggers but its 550kg payload will prove useful to local operators who want an LCV that is decent to drive and possesses the ability to get a load box full of tools or equipment to the sort of locations off the beaten track that may thwart a conventional small van.
Dacia brand manager Andy Heiron describes the Commercial as “a half-tonne toolbox”.
It is also frugal, with figures of 56.5mpg and CO2 of 130g/km for the 4x2, and 54.3mpg and 137g/ km for the 4x4. It’s showroom cost won’t break the bank either, prices for the four- model line-up go from £9595 to £12,545, excluding VAT.
Dacia got this message across at the CV Show by introducing the Duster Commercial with the strapline: “You do the maths,” and employing the services of TV personality and mathematician Rachel Riley to extol the vehicle’s economical credentials.
But customers benefit from more than a purchase that goes light on the wallet. The Duster Commercial is practical, functional and can be serviced and maintained at Renault’s UK network of 150 dealerships and repairers.
The 4x2 has a load volume of 1.15m3 while the 4x4’s capacity drops to 1.0m3. The flat, false cargo deck that replaces the rear seats stretches to 1400mm and measures 1000mm between the wheel arches.
The Commercial is also more refined and better specified than its lowly price tag may suggest. Standard kit on all models includes roof bars, a chrome grille, a toughened plastic floor with two anchorage points, electric front windows, a four-speaker radio/ CD player with MP3 compatibility, Bluetooth, aux and USB sockets. Safety features include emergency brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control, and four airbags.
The flagship Laureate in 4x4 mode brings with it an impressive wealth of kit for a budget model, including alloy wheels, satin chrome roof bars, side sills and scuff plates, black interior detailing, black door sill protectors, a seven-function trip computer, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, leather steering wheel and usefully, cruise control with a speed limiter and air conditioning. All-wheel-drive versions have a centre differential lock with selectable 2WD, AUTO and LOCK modes, which are simple to select from a central dial.
It looks good too, with a curvaceous body a powerful nose featuring a chrome front grille with two layers of intakes surrounding the Dacia logo, and a neat and tidy rear with Duster branding above the number plate and, in 4x4 mode, the 4WD designation to the inside of the rear offside tail light.
But the Duster Commercial doesn’t flatter to deceive, when What Van? tested the 4x4 Laureate we said it “quickly endears itself as a civilised and well-mannered model to drive” both around town and out on the open road.
Did you know?....
Duster Commercial 4x4 models get a spare wheel as standard but on the 4X2 it’s a £150 option.
Ford Transit AWD
Taking the runners up spot is the big Ford Transit All-Wheel Drive.
The AWD is a niche seller in the Transit line-up but offers extra traction in difficult driving conditions to those, such as utility companies or rural-based emergency services that are likely to need it. The new electronically controlled 4x4 system delivers better traction in low friction conditions, full integration with the ESC and traction control systems and a new AWD Lock mode for enhanced grip in extreme conditions such as snow and sand. The medium wheelbase, medium roof height Transit AWD 350 has a very useful payload capacity of 1335kg coupled with a load space of 9.5m3.