Dacia brings a fresh brand and a new approach to the 4x4 sector. The Duster is so keenly priced it competes with nearly-new examples of most of the other cars in our top 10, rather than brand new ones. It’s effectively a crossover 4x4 at supermini prices.
How has Renault-owned Dacia done it? Well the Duster uses tried-and-tested underpinnings and established engines, rather than cutting-edge technology. With no-haggle prices and basic specification you get what you pay for. Air conditioning and electronic stability control aren’t even available as options on entry-level Access models – even a radio doesn’t come as standard.
The rugged styling means the Dacia doesn’t look like a bargain basement offering and the driving experience is unremarkable.
Refinement from the 109bhp 1.5dCi engine isn’t great and you get lots of body roll in the corners, while the smooth 1.6-litre petrol is thirsty in 4x4 guise. Practicality is good thanks to a 475-litre boot and spacious interior, but a lowly three-star Euro NCAP safety rating could deter family buyers.