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 £15,000 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.
Visually, the second-gen car 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 has been further enhanced by the recent refresh which includes revised headlights, a new grille design, a rear spoiler and updated alloy wheel designs. Inside, the addition of upgraded upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and electric rear windows are all welcome features, while mid- and top-spec cars add a practical 1.1-litre storage bin and armrest.
It’s still incredibly spacious, too, with ample room for five adults and up to 445 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place.
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 and Journey specifications make up the rest of the range.
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, while a Blue dCi 115 diesel engine with 113bhp and the choice of two or four-wheel drive is also on the price list. The TCe 100 Bi-Fuel variant has been discontinued.
A six-speed manual gearbox is available with all versions, except the 148bhp petrol car which comes with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
You can only buy a diesel 4x4 version in Expression or Journey trim, which means you’ll have to spend more than £20,000 for 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