Cheap, available, SUV?
However, there is a very real and exact obstacle, and it is reflected in the price and maintenance costs of an SUV. Crossover sub-segment has slightly alleviated these problems, but they are still present. Living expenses are relentless factor in Serbia. So, we can provide a step as long as we can, not an inch more.
Fortunately, just as the crossover segment is one of the world’s fastest growing, so we have an institution of “cheap and affordable” car in the last few years, embodied in brands such as Dacia, Tata, Geely, Chery… We should add that many renowned car manufacturers plan to launch“cheaper” product lines, in order to take that alluring part of the market “pie” which mostly belongs to the so-called “emerging markets”.
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi Laureate 4X4
Is our market “growing” is very questionable, but we have two more than interesting cars on our comparative test, ready to break some pretty established prejudices. They are Dacia Duster and Chery Tiggo!
We are all aware of the advantages of modern SUVs. They bring a better comfort, more usable volume, higher clearance, which allows easy ride over bumps and most of them come with a 4x4, which combined with the aforementioned features, provides mobility where conventional cars are useless. The basic and crucial question is whether we need to look deep into our pockets in order to have one of such four-wheeled friends in the garage? Until recently, with no doubt, the answer would be – yes (unless you were willing to buy a Lada Niva, without any comfort or usable capacity). Now, things have changed, and before us are the protagonists of our story. They will undeceive us about some things.
Diesel vs Gas
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi Laureate 4x4 with 110 hp and Chery Tiggo Basic 2.0 with 140 hp. The first one is powered by a modern turbo diesel engine, and the latter by atmospheric gas engine (LPG as an option). Many of you have already pre-selected your favorite, and we will do our best to give you a closer look to the models and try to prove that you can afford a quite good off-road vehicle for relatively small amount of money, the vehicle that will satisfy all the needs of an average Serbian (adventurous) family.
Our little „duet“ of so-called „urban SUVs“ was moving from Novi Sad through Fruška gora to Irig. We installed Mont Blanc bicycle hitches on the Duster, while the Tiggo took a kayak. The „adventure“ could begin, and it started right on Fruška Gora’s Venac, where we tested ourselves in off-road ride, and not with the cars, but a bike. Very soon we faced the implacable fact that riding the bike on the steep slopes and rises required something more than the usual „urban“ body fitness.
After the „hard“ work, we had to recompense the calories, so after the arrival to Irig we went right to eat some „burek“. However, we ate our meal in the silence of the beauty of Međaš Lake.
Descending towards the lake, we experienced a real off-road driving where both of the crossovers were up to the task. Numerous bushes caused some problems, but the Duster and Tiggo were easily crossing deep notches in the dirt road. How would our ride look if there was a muddy road, we could not tell, but would definitely like to try it again, not because we did not believe in off-road capabilities of the Dacia’s and Chery’s protégés, on the contrary, but because it would represent the maximum these vehicles could achieve, and that was something we must reckon with, especially if we considered that they were cars that costed 15 915 euros (Dacia Duster) and 14 990 euros (Chery Tiggo + 800 euros for LPG unit).
Chery Tiggo 2.0 Basic 4X4
Talking about the drives of the two models, they are very similar. The difference is that the Duster has a choice of manual operation, so that if desired, you can select FWD, Auto and Lock. The Chery Tiggo actually has only Auto option, because it is an identical system as the Duster’s when the electronic module detects lack of traction and activates rear wheel drive if needed, with the help of ABS sensors. In practice it all works very well and instills confidence, at least considering “softer” off-road tour as ours.
So similar yet so different
Engines and gearboxes of our Dacia Duster and Chery Tiggo are two entirely different stories. The Duster comes with a pedigree since it has the famous Renault’s 1.5 dCi turbo diesel engine and Nissan’s six-speed manual Transmission. The Tiggo is powered by 2.0-liter petrol engine mated to five-speed manual gearbox. What is immediately noticeable is that Duster’s tranny has pronounced short gear ratios unlike pretty long Tiggo’s. The consequence of these features is that the Duster can start from the second gear and perform the turn in the third, while the Tiggo often requires downshifting. This is not about which option is better, because it’s up to a driver to decide what he prefers. Although the Tiggo has more power (140 hp compared to 109 hp), many will consider the Dacia’s protégé more agile, primarily due to solid torque of 240 Nm at 1750 rpm and the “short” transmission. The Chery Tiggo needs some higher rpm to reach its maximum torque of 182 Nm available between 4300 and 4500 rpm. Many drivers won’t consider this as a problem because of the Tiggo’s almost BMW-like muffled engine sound. Chery’s engine meets Euro 4 standards.
quality of materials,
narrow operating range
of the engine
Nemanja and the kayak
We had our meal near Međaš Lake, rested a little bit, and then launched our kayak. Our coleague Nemanja tested his rowing skills on it. All the necessary equipment was easy to store in generous trunks (475 l Duster, 520 l Tiggo). They are fit for going on a family holiday. When we were on our way back home we used asphalt roads, to check out whether the journeys of the future owners of Duster and Tiggo would be comfortable and pleasant. As this domain is concerned, everything is satisfactory with a reference that the Duster has slightly better ergonomics. When we talk about another type of (dis)comfort, the figures show the following – The Chery Tiggo consumes 10 liters of LPG per 100 km on the open road, and about 14 l in town traffic, while the Dacia Duster’s average fuel consumption is 7.7 liters of diesel. These are the results of our testing, not the ones listed by the manufacturers. One kilometer in the Chery Tiggo (LPG) will cost you about 6.6 dinars, and 8.9 dinars in the Duster.
Finally, we came to the answer to the crucial question from the beginning of this comparative test: You do not have to be wealthy to afford a modern, compact SUV with the attributes of a caravan, city car, 4x4 vehicle, and minivan.
Dacia and Chery made it possible to buy a multifunctional family car that will meet all the needs of the vast majority of potential customers for a price of an average lower middle class car. Market success is inevitable, and you can expect more Dusters and Tiggos on our roads.
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