Dacia Duster (2012-2018) Review

The Dacia Duster is an SUV that is so practical and such good value for money, you can forgive its utilitarian look and feel

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Incredible value for money
  • A spacious and practical interior
  • Impressive reliability record
  • Plasticky and outdated interior
  • Low equipment levels
  • Poor safety rating
Dacia Duster prices from £5,500.
Finance from £149.56 / month.

The Dacia Duster is a small sport-utility vehicle (SUV). An car designed with plenty of lugagge space and the ability to go off-road, in other words.

But because it’s so cheap, its natural rivals are superminis such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo.
Not only does it cost from around the same price as the cheaper versions of these cars but it’s larger, more spacious and much more practical as well. It’s also - thanks to its soft suspension - comfortable to drive, despite a tendency to lean heavily in corners.

Meanwhile, against other small SUVs, the Dacia Duster looks even more of a bargain. For example, the Renault Captur, another mid-size SUV, is almost £4000 more expensive than the cheapest Duster.

With that lower prices comes lower expectations. The Duster’s engines (you can choose between a diesel and a petrol) are noisy, its interior looks outdated and built down to a price, it doesn’t offer much in the way of standard equipment and its three star safety rating from Euro NCAP, the independent crash testing organisation, is less than reassuring.

However, for people who have bought Dusters – and their number is growing all the time – these things are clearly not that important. Dusters only began arriving in the UK in 2012 but so far they have impressed owners with their durability and reliability – so that interior, for example, would appear to be tougher than it looks. And although standard equipment levels are low, there are three distinctly different trims so that those who don’t place much value on luxury features can go without and pay far less money. On the other hand, if you do appreciate them, there’s a Duster in the line-up for you, but it still won’t cost a lot.


Key facts

Warranty 3 years
Boot size 475 litres
Width 2000mm
Length 4315mm
Height 1625mm
Tax (min to max) £30 to £180

Best Dacia Duster for...

Best for Economy – Dacia Duster dCi 110 4x2

Thanks to its diesel engine and two-wheel drive layout, this is the most economical model at 64.2mpg

Best for Families – Dacia Duster Lauréate dCi 110 4x4

With the added security of four-wheel drive, its diesel engine’s low running costs, and features including air-conditioning and electric rear windows, this is the family-friendly Duster.

Best for Performance – Dacia Duster Ambiance dCi 110 4x2

Petrol-engined Dusters look slightly quicker on paper but on the road, the diesels feel faster because you don't need to rev them for maximum power.

One to Avoid – Dacia Duster Ambiance 1.6 16V 115 4x4

With its thirsty combination of a 1.6 petrol engine and four-wheel drive, plus the extra expense of Ambiance trim, this is a Duster to steer clear of.


  • 2012 (June)Duster launched in the UK with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, two or four-wheel drive and with three trim levels (Access, Ambiance and Lauréate). To keep costs down, there are few options and a limited colour choice. Various equipment packs offered for around £500 each and called Adventure, Styling, Protection and Touring. 
  • 2013 (Jan) Limited-run, high-spec Black edition, based on Duster Lauréate dCi 100 4x2, is launched costing £17,575.
  • 2014 (Feb): Extended warranties up to seven years and fixed-price servicing now offered online to owners of Dusters under one year old.
  • 2014 (Sept) Update sees all versions get a chrome grille and roof bars, new seats and upholstery, and a suite of new safety systems including traction and stability control 
  • 2014 (Sept) Dacia admits limited-run of Indian-built Dusters manufactured between January 2013 and August 2014 could develop surface corrosion on certain panel edges. Dacia repaired affected cars free of charge. Romania-built Dusters not affected.
  • 2015 (Mar) Luxurious special editions of the Duster launched, called Lauréate Prime. Cost only £500 more than the Lauréate but have a sat nav, a front centre armrest and a leather-covered steering wheel.
  • 2015 (Aug) All new, more powerful and cleaner 1.6-litre petrol engine replaces old 1.6 unit.

Understanding Dacia Duster names

Trim Ambiance

There are three core trims (or versions) called, in ascending order of the features that each of them has, Access, Ambience and Lauréate.

Engine dCi 100

There are two engines: a petrol called the 1.6 16V 115, and a diesel called the dCi 110. In both cases, 115 and 110 refer to the engine’s horsepower.

Driven wheels 4x2

In standard form, only the Duster’s two front wheels are driven, hence ‘4x2’. On more expensive versions, all four wheels are driven, hence ‘4x4’. The former version is still impressively stable and secure on the road, but the 4x4 one has a little extra grip on slippery surfaces and much better traction off-road.

Dacia Duster Engines

1.6 16V 115, 1.5 dCi 110

There are just two engines offered with the Dacia Duster: a petrol, called the 1.6 16V 115, and a diesel, called the dCi 110 and with a capacity of 1.5 litres. Both are available with a two or four-wheel drive transmission.

The diesel is the better engine since it’s more economical (around 20mpg more than the petrol in two and four-wheel drive) and cleaner, too, so cheaper to tax (£30 for the 4x2 and £110 for the 4x4, compared with the petrol engine’s £145 and £180 respectively).

While it might look less powerful and slower than the petrol on paper, on the road the diesel feels faster, especially through the gears when you’re overtaking. The petrol, on the other hand, has to be pushed hard to give its best. Both engines are noisy so it’s not something you’re going to want to do much in either of them. The petrol engine is an all-new EU6-compliant unit introduced in August 2015 to replace the old, less powerful and efficient 1.6-litre.

There is no automatic option. Instead, all versions have manual gearboxes; in the two-wheel-drive petrol it’s a five-speed ’box but in all others, a six-speed. That extra sixth gear is better for long-distance cruising, and is the reason the four-wheel-drive petrol is reasonably economical

Dacia Duster Trims

Access, Ambiance and Lauréate

Access, the basic trim, has an impressive list of safety equipment including anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and Isofix rear child seat mounts, but few luxuries – not even a radio or rear electric windows. Instead, its job, at least in two-wheel drive form, is to get the Duster’s start price to below £10,000. The four-wheel drive version costs £2000 more.

The next trim in the range, called Ambiance, is just £1000 more than Access. It comes with essentials such as driver’s seat height adjustment, front foglights, a split-fold rear seat, and a radio with Bluetooth and aux input. It gets smarter steel wheels and upholstery, and body-coloured bumpers, too.

The Duster feels much more civilised in top-spec Lauréate trim. This brings air-conditioning, alloy wheels, an on-board computer and rear electric rear windows. However, the two-wheel-drive version, which is a diesel, is £4000 more than the cheapest Duster Access. Options include a sat nav for just £300, while accessory packs are available from £555.

Dacia Duster Reliability and warranty

The Dacia Duster is proving a hit with owners, who report few reliability issues. In the 2015 Driver Power survey owners rated Dacia the second most reliable brand after luxury car maker, Lexus. The Duster itself charted at number 91 out of 200 cars, although that was a drop of 30 places on 2014. Dacia is actually owned by Renault and many of the Duster’s components have been used in the French manufacturer’s cars for years, so are tried and tested. In any case, all new Dusters come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty which can be extended for up to seven years or 100,000 miles.

Used Dacia Duster

Because it’s such good value to begin with, and not heavily discounted from new, the Dacia Duster holds its value quite well. Typically, after three years, a Duster is worth 50% of its new price compared with the more expensive Nissan Juke at 46% and Vauxhall Mokka at 41%. The cheapest versions, such as the Access, hold their value best, at least in cash terms. At the other end of the model range, while the more expensive Lauréate may not seem to lose more money in percentage terms, in cash terms it certainly does. As a result, a used Dacia Duster Lauréate dCi 110 4x4, for example, is very good value for money.

There may be more economical SUVs around but the Duster’s low purchase price more than compensates, meaning running costs are still low. Servicing isn’t that expensive but it’s cheaper still if you take out Dacia’s extended service plan when you buy your new Duster. Servicing over two years and up to 24,000 miles costs £309, and three years/36,000 miles, £500. 


List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance







Dacia Duster Ambiance dCi 110 4x2







Best for families







Dacia Duster Lauréate dCi 110 4x4







Best for economy







Dacia Duster Ambiance dCi 110 4x2







Other Editions

Duster (2018)

The Dacia Duster might be basic but it offers value-for-money SUV ownership - especially if you're considering used versions