Dacia Duster review
The Dacia Duster is better than ever and is possibly the best value SUV you can buy
The Dacia Duster offers such excellent value for money, you have to wonder why you’d ever spend the extra on a more expensive model. It’s not the most inspiring car to drive, and the interior is lacking in sparkle, but in just about every other respect the Duster is able to hold its own in an increasingly competitive market. For this second-generation model, the styling has been improved, the seats are more comfortable, and the diesel version is more economical. In fact, in diesel 4x4 guise, the Duster could be the best value proper off-road vehicle on the market.
The Dacia Duster is the SUV you can buy for the price of a supermini. In fact, with prices starting from just £10,995, it even manages to undercut the Nissan Micra – not bad for a car that’s roughly the same size as a Qashqai.
Little wonder, then, that the first-generation Duster, introduced to the UK in 2012, forged a reputation for excellent value for money, earning itself a legion of loyal fans. The good news is that the new Duster picks up where the old model left off, and even manages to improve in certain key areas.
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Visually, it looks very similar to the old Duster – Dacia wasn’t going to mess with a winning formula – but every body panel is brand new. It’s more attractive and more upmarket than before, with three-section LED daytime running lights, signature rear lights and a new grille combining to give it a sharp new look.
The interior has been given a subtle makeover, too, with the quality of the materials taken up a notch or two, more comfortable seats and a repositioned infotainment screen. It’s not the last word in luxury, and neither is it a particularly inspiring cabin, but for the money it’s hard to fault.
It’s also incredibly spacious, with ample room for five adults and up to 445 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place. Dacia has also improved the soundproofing, upgraded the electric power steering and added keyless entry to the higher trim levels.
There are five specs to choose from: Access, Essential, Comfort, SE Twenty and Prestige. The Access defines ‘bargain basement’ with 16-inch steel wheels, a one-piece rear bench, no height adjustment for the driver’s seat, no air-conditioning and no radio. But at £10,995, it’s hard to complain.
The Essential trim adds a few cosmetic upgrades, along with front fog lights, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60:40 split-folding rear seat, DAB radio and Bluetooth. Comfort feels more upmarket, with 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, seven-inch infotainment system with sat-nav, a rear parking camera and cruise control. SE Twenty versions add 17-inch alloys, a multi-view camera, blind-spot warning and SE Twenty-branded floor mats, exterior decals and blue badging.
The top-of-the-range Prestige model boasts 17-inch ‘diamond-cut’ alloy wheels, improved upholstery, climate control, keyless entry and electrically-adjustable, heated door mirrors. There is also a Techroad limited edition, including most equipment from the Prestige version, but with specific Fusion Red or Highland Grey paint and upholstery.
Front-wheel drive variants start at £10,995, but you can no longer buy a 4x4 version in entry-level Access or Essential trim. This means you’ll have to spend around £18,000 for a Duster with four-wheel drive.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Dacia Duster is better than ever and is possibly the best value SUV you can buy
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Duster is surprisingly enjoyable to drive, reasonably economical and rather good off-road
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsCheap to buy and cheap to run – owning a Dacia Duster shouldn’t break the bank
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Dacia Duster looks better than before, and the interior quality is up a notch, but the cabin remains uninspiring
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spacePracticality is a real Dacia Duster strong point, offering space for five adults and a large boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyMust try harder. A lowly safety rating and poor customer satisfaction are areas of concern for the Dacia Duster.