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.
The second-generation Duster received a facelift in 2021, with updates to its exterior design, interior trim and infotainment system all helping to keep it competitive, while Dacia continues to offer the option of all-wheel drive which means the Duster could be the best value proper off-road vehicle on the market.
About the Dacia Duster
The Dacia Duster is the SUV you can buy for the price of a supermini. In fact, with prices starting from around £17,000 it even manages to undercut the Vauxhall Corsa – not bad for a car that’s roughly the same size as a Nissan 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 latest Duster picked up where the old model left off, and even managed to make improvements in certain key areas.
Visually, the second-gen Duster looks very similar to the old model – Dacia wasn’t going to mess with a winning formula – although every body panel is brand new. It’s more attractive and more upmarket than before, and was further enhanced by a 2021 refresh which included revised headlights, a new grille design, a rear spoiler and updated alloy wheel designs. The brand also updated its logo in 2022 with the new “Dacia link” design. This now adorns the front grille and steering wheel while ‘D A C I A’ lettering appears on the boot – all of which replace the old shield logo.
Inside, improved upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and electric rear windows are all welcome upgrades over the previous model, while mid- and top-spec cars add a practical 1.1-litre storage bin and armrest.
The bargain basement Access spec is no longer available, so Essential trim is now the entry point to Duster ownership and includes 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, air-con and Bluetooth. Expression, Journey and Extreme specifications make up the rest of the range, with these three adding alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rear-view camera.
There are three petrol versions on offer: a 89bhp 1.0-litre TCe 90 and a 1.3-litre TCe unit with either 128bhp or 148bhp. The Duster is also available with a Blue dCi 115 diesel engine that produces 113bhp. Alternatively, Dacia offers a factory-fitted LPG system in the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel variant.
The majority of the Duster range features a six-speed manual gearbox, except the 148bhp petrol model which comes with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. If you want a Duster with 4x4 capability rather than front-wheel drive, you need to upgrade to the top-of-the-range Extreme trim and get the diesel engine. Doing so will mean spending more than £24,000 to get a Duster with four-wheel-drive.
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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 focuses mainly on delivering comfort, while being 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
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spacePracticality is a real Dacia Duster strong point, offering space for five adults and a large boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Duster's lowly safety rating might be a concern for some buyers, although Driver Power customer feedback is improving