Dacia Duster: new entry-level Access model vs used top-spec version

Dacia is famous for its top value new cars. But if you want a great value car, used ones are even more affordable. So which Duster is best?

James Wilson
Sep 9, 2019

Dacia is something of a phenomenon in the UK, as it has managed to create a range of cars which cost peanuts to buy but are talked about fondly and are even, dare we say it, occasionally desirable.

From the offset, Dacia pitched itself as a no-nonsense, zero frills car maker that sells cars which will happily get you from A to B, but do without 18-way adjustable, massaging seats, wrapped in the softest leather. The Duster arguably embodies this ethos best, with its tough SUV format, helping it appeal to 20-something wannabe adventurers and family motorists on a budget.

As the previous Duster proved so popular, Dacia added better specified models to the range as time went by - you could even purchase a Duster with cruise control, electric mirrors, parking sensors and DAB radio as standard.

In 2018 Dacia revealed the thoroughly-updated second-generation Duster, which marked a huge step forward for the SUV – chief amongst which were improvements to the interior. Even so, entry-level Dusters have stayed true to their name and still come with almost no standard equipment and remain the cheapest new SUV on sale in the UK, with a price tag of just £10,995.

Thing is, for that kind of money you can buy a three-year-old top-spec previous generation model. Granted, you don’t get the more modern styling and the interior design is a little dated in comparison, but you do get a radio and electric rear windows plus tonnes of other kit - all of which are missing on the new Access model. So is it better to go for a car with all the kit you want, but slightly less sharp styling inside and out or a more modern looking model that does without lots of equipment you might want?

Read on for our detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of buying a brand new entry-level Dacia Duster compared with a high-spec used one.

 

Dacia Duster Access: modern looks, very little kit

First things first, let’s consider what you actually get with regards to equipment and spec on a new Dacia Duster Access (the entry-level trim)...it is easy to live without some equipment, but you may think again when you see just how little you get with the most basic Duster.

When it comes to interior equipment you get electric front windows, a speed limiter, a heated rear windscreen, front airbags and two Isofix points on the rear outer seats for securely mounting child seats. Meanwhile, on the outside you are treated to anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and hill start assist. That is your lot. No air-conditioning, no radio, no Bluetooth, no fancy media system or sat-nav, no cruise control and no alloy wheels.

While equipment is poor, one thing you do get that the older model cannot is a new petrol engine, called the TCe 100. Dacia claims this engine, which replaces the older SCe 115 engine for entry-level versions, is capable of returning around 49mpg and CO2 emissions of 126g/km. Impressive figures, though you'll have to drive very gently to get near those figures.

As standard, all new Access trim Dacia Dusters put their power through a five-speed manual gearbox that drives the front wheels – meaning for £10,995 you cannot get a four-wheel drive Duster. 4x4 Dusters currently start from £15,700.

On the flip side, top-of-the-range Dacia Duster Prestige models from 2017/2018 come with buckets of equipment. As standard, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, sat-nav, a reversing camera, fog lights, digital radio and USB connectivity are all included.

It doesn’t end there either, as a bit of hunting on the used car market could uncover a hidden gem with optional extras such as leather seats. No matter how much digging you do, you won't be able to find Dusters with equipment such as keyless entry and climate control, but these are hardly world-ending omissions.

Dacia Duster residual values and depreciation?

Normally, cars with little to no equipment don’t do too well at holding their value, but the Duster doesn’t appear to be affected that badly by this. Looking at entry-level Access models which are now three or four years old, they appear to have retained around 60% of their original value. So it wouldn’t be too outrageous to expect the new model to behave similarly, especially considering the Duster is still very popular.

A 40% drop might seem like a lot, but consider that this is actually around £4,000 and you can see that compared to other models 40% is almost impressive. Take a Volkswagen T-Roc, which is similar in size and starts at around £20,000. It would only need to depreciate by 20% over three years to lose the same amount of value as the Duster.

Residual values for a better specified second-hand Duster Prestige are slightly different, in that they have lost a substantial chunk of their initial purchase price to begin with, so are likely to lose value slower from this point forward. As most cars lose the majority of their value in their first three years on the road, this means that the used Duster could cost you less in depreciation than the new basic one.

The upshot of the above is that used buyers have a win-win when it comes to Duster depreciation. You are getting a well-equipped model for significantly less than it would cost new, plus your car will depreciate nice and slowly. There are drawbacks to choosing an older car of course, such as reliability, which will we discuss next.

New vs old: reliability, warranty and running costs

One of the major benefits of buying a new car is that it is brand spanking new. Nothing should be broken and, thanks to a manufacturer's warranty, if something does break in the first few years it many cases it should be fixed free of charge.

The Duster is no exception to this, with Dacia offering a three-year 60,000-mile warranty as standard. Another benefit of going for the brand new Duster is that you don't need to get an MOT for the first three years - saving you a little time and hassle.

In the case of buying second-hand, used vehicles normally require more money spending on them per year, especially if they are old enough to need an MOT. This isn’t because they are necessarily unreliable, it is because racking up miles tends to wear things out.

Common parts that might need replacing include the likes of tyres, clutches, wipers and brake pads. Finding a used car that needs little to no work doing is not easy, but it can save you hundreds if not thousands of pounds if you do.

Maintenance aside, running costs should be fairly similar between a better specified 2017/2018 Dacia Duster and a new entry-level Duster Access, but the latter should fare marginally better thanks to the more fuel efficient TCe 100 engine. It goes without saying, the fewer miles you do each year, the smaller this margin will be.

Dacia Duster vs alternatives

If you are considering a used Dacia Duster then it is a logical idea to consider other second hand options from different manufacturers which cost similar money – and it is here that the Dacia struggles a little. Aside from being better equipped, with more technology and a higher qaulity interior, many of the Dacia Duster’s rivals come with better engines and improved levels of refinement.

Take the Skoda Yeti for example. These hugely popular SUVs are available with a range of petrol and diesel engines, as well as manual and automatic gearboxes. Drive a Duster straight after a Yeti and the Duster’s budget-buy nature will really show.

It isn’t just Skoda that has a compelling second-hand SUV to tempt you away from the Duster. There's the Suzuki Vitara, Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Mini Countryman among a whole range of affordable alternatives. Go for one of these, though and in most cases, you'll need to go for an older model than the used Duster above to get it for the same price as the new entry-level Duster.

So which Dacia Duster should you buy?

With all that in mind, if you want a car for nothing more than taking you from A to B, which doesn’t cost a lot of money, shouldn't surprise you with massive maintenance bills and will perform surprisingly well when it comes to residual values, then go for a new entry-level Duster.

On the other hand, if you ever do long journeys and don’t want to sit for hours on end in an un-air conditioned metal box with nothing but your own thoughts to keep you entertained - since a radio, media system, sat-nav and lots of other kit is lacking in the new entry-level model - then go for the second-hand option. The extra money you spend on maintenance is a small price to pay for having a much more desirable car.

Or, if neither of those appeal, you can always track down an affordable mid-specification second-hand version of the current model, which you might just about be able to find for £11,000 if you're patient and be done with it.

 

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