Dacia Duster Access

The entry-level, two-wheel-drive Duster impresses on price and practicality

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Dacia Duster is an honest, rugged and likeable crossover that’s unapologetically built to a price. Yet it doesn’t feel too cheap inside, its road manners are good and there’s masses of passenger and boot space. The entry-level spec might be too basic for some (it doesn’t even include a radio) but for this amount of money, only a second-hand alternate comes close.

The Duster is the first model from Renault’s budget sub-brand, Dacia, to go on sale in the UK. And for the full Dacia experience, this entry-level, two-wheel-drive model, costing just £8,995, is the one to go for. But is it a step too far for the modern motorist?

Robust and simple styling is bolstered by pumped-up wheel arches, black bumpers and steel wheels without trims. In the flesh it has a surprisingly muscular stance and lots of road presence.

The interior is filled with hard plastics, but the dash and door trims are textured so it doesn’t look too cheap.The dash is uncluttered with the only controls for a fan heater, heated rear screen and hazard lights. The wing mirrors and windows are manually operated and there isn't a radio.

On the road, the Duster punches above its weight. The high driving position and large mirrors give excellent all-round visability from the comfortable driver’s seat, while the 104bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is impressively smooth. Throttle response is adequate considering there’s only 148Nm of torque, too.

Predictable handing, a comfortable but not floaty ride, with strong brakes and lightweight gearshift action make the Duster easy to drive. Add a maximum loading area of 1,636-litres and reasonable economy, and this entry-level Duster has personality, price and practicality in its favour.

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