Dacia Duster (2018-present)

The Dacia Duster might be basic but it offers value-for-money SUV ownership

Dacia Duster (previous generation) prices from £5,895   Finance from £118 per month

Everyone loves a bargain, so Dacia is the ideal car brand for many buyers, with its cheap and cheerful approach to car ownership. The Sandero is the cheapest car on sale in the UK, but step up to the latest Duster and buyers can actually grab a brand new SUV for less than £10,000.

Dacia is owned by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, so the Duster is based on the Japanese company’s technology – albeit a previous generation, so it’s a little dated in some ways. The car falls, size-wise between the Renault Captur and Kadjar, and it doesn’t feel as sophisticated as the two Renaults, but neither does it cost as much (the Duster’s base model is over £5,000 cheaper than the Captur’s). You pay your money, etc…

However, the Duster’s styling doesn’t look outdated or cheap. Every panel has been updated compared to the previous generation and it’s sharper, more sculpted and more grown up than the previous iteration. The lights, for example, have a more modern feel, with LED daytime running lights available.

The cabin is less modern in feeling, and is a lot more basic and utilitarian in feel. It’s spacious enough, as befits an SUV, with plenty of head- and legroom in the rear, but most versions have fabric seats (even the range-topping versions only have part-leather) and the overall feel is one of being built for durability. The controls and switchgear are chunky and practical to use, but you have to choose the Comfort trim (which is the second-highest of four) to get an infotainment system with colour screen: the base Access cars don’t even have a radio.

In keeping with the basic, no-frills nature of the Duster, the on-road performance is functional but unexciting. It handles tidily, with body roll well contained, accurate steering and enough grip in the corners. The ride is soft and comfortable, but the worst of the UK’s roads can be felt when encountered. However, all this is a good fit with the relatively relaxed performance of the Duster: this is not a car that is built to hustle along at pace, so it all works.

In terms of rivals, the Duster does compete in some ways to the B-segment SUVs such as the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Kona, Seat Arona, Škoda Karoq and the numerous other models now on sale, but it's a very different proposition. Apart from the fact that it's slightly larger, it's a lot more basic. But that’s a good thing, as it does democratise SUV purchasing and provides an alternative to SUV buyers on a budget.

Last Updated 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 00:00

Dacia Duster Engines 

Sce 115, Blue dCi 115
In line with Dacia’s simple approach, there are just two engines available at launch, one petrol and one diesel, but both are available in two-wheel and four-wheel-drive guises.

The SCe petrol engine is a 1.6-litre unit with a 115PS output, with a 0-62mph time of 11.9 seconds (or 12.9 seconds with 4x4 capability). It’s not a quick car, by any means, but it’s relatively smooth and quiet and will do a job for buyers who aren’t bothered about getting anywhere in a hurry. The one downside is that the power required for overtaking is a little lacking, while in-gear acceleration also isn't great. Official economy figures are reasonable for a petrol SUV, with 43.5mpg (40.7mpg for 4x4), but CO2 emissions are 149g/km (158g/km).

The 1.5-litre Blue dCi 115 also produces 115PS, but the additional torque that is produced by a diesel engine (compared to a petrol unit) means a slightly quicker 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds (or 12.1 seconds with 4x4). The diesel is also considerably more economical, with an official fuel consumption figure of 64.2mpg (60.1mpg for 4x4) and CO2 emissions of 115g/km (123g/km).

Other Editions

  • Used Dacia Duster (2012-2018)
    The Dacia Duster is an SUV that is so practical and such good value for money, you can forgive its utilitarian look and feel