Dacia is already forging a reputation for offering value for money, with a series of incredibly low starting prices helping underline the image.
The Duster SUV is a prime example of that, with an entry-level price of just £8995. However, you really do get what you pay for, and that means you don't get a lot of equipment with the basic model; it doesn't even come with a radio.
Here is our guide to how to make sure you get a Duster that has everything you might want or need, but without ruining its most attractive feature – its low price.
Which engine should you go for?
It is a straight choice between a 105bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 107bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine. If you absolutely must have the cheapest version, then it has to be the petrol because entry-level Access trim comes only with this engine. This is also the only trim the petrol is available in.
However, the diesel engine is our choice. It is much more relaxed on the motorway, and it doesn't need to be revved as hard as the petrol.
Also, we reckon the increased low-rev pulling power will be more suited to those who want to use their Duster for towing or hardier off-road tasks.
Which trim should you go for?
Assuming you do go for diesel, as we recommend above, that rules out the entry-level Access trim. We would avoid it anyway, because it is just that bit too basic for the modern UK car buyer.
Whether you should go for the mid-level Ambiance or the top-spec Laureate depends on what you intend to use the Duster for.
The rugged charm of the Duster means that many owners will want to use it as a farm vehicle, in which case the Ambiance trim will be plenty. This way the money saved can go towards a 4x4 version, which adds £2000 to the price but turns the Dacia into a proper off-roader. Ambience comes with a CD player with a USB connection and Bluetooth, remote central locking, electric front windows and split-folding rear seats.
Those who intend to stick to the roads may want the added luxury of Laureate trim, which brings air-conditioning, rear electric windows and a leather steering wheel.
Which options should you pick?
The biggest reason to avoid the entry-level trim is that it is not available with stability control (ESC), even as an option.
Although it's not normal to pay extra for safety kit, this is the one thing that we think is worth picking on the options list. Even if you intend your Duster to be an off-road tool (or toy), then this is the only must-have option. Otherwise, keep it basic and enjoy the cheap starting price.
For on-road users:
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 Laureate 4x2
For off-road users:
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 Ambiance 4x4
Stability control - £350
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 Laureate 4x2 - £13,345
Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 Ambiance 4x4 - £13,845
What should you pay?
Unfortunately Dacia has made it a policy not to offer any deals – the asking price is as low as it will go. This is why the prices are so low in the first place, and it does at least take out the potential hassle of haggling.
By Tom Webster
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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