The Duster’s list prices are impressively low and don’t go any lower. Unlike its rivals, Dacia operates a strict, no-haggle policy, so you won’t get any discounts at the showroom. Even so, the Duster undercuts similarly-sized rivals by thousands of pounds and residual values are likely to be excellent: over 50% after three years.
Running costs are low, especially if you avoid the petrol engine, which is thirsty and performed poorly in our True MPG tests. The diesel is reasonably efficient and returned 47.6mpg in the same tests. Four-wheel-drive models are considerably more expensive to buy, and also bring higher fuel and tax costs.
The Duster boasts particularly competitive insurance group ratings which, again, help to keep running costs down. So, all in all, the Duster is among the cheapest cars to own in its class.
Dacia Duster equipment
In entry-level Access trim, the Duster is poorly equipped and misses out on some features buyers have come to expect on their new car. On the positive side, its has electric front windows, remote central locking and the same safety kit as other Dusters, but there’s no radio, no driver’s seat height adjustment, no USB input socket and no covers for the steel wheels. It’s definitely worth upgrading to Ambiance trim – our favourite – which adds all of the above, plus 60/40 split rear seats and steering column stereo controls.
Top-spec Laureate cars are, naturally, much better equipped – and more expensive, too. They have air conditioning, electric rear windows, alloy wheels, smarter interior and exterior trim, front seatback map pockets, cruise control, and heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors.
Rear parking sensors and an alarm are reserved for the Duster’s options list, however, and even in its plushest trim, the model isn’t available with much of the luxury and convenience equipment that’s available on most new cars at the same price.
Dacia Duster reliability
The Dacia brand – which is owned by Renault, itself in a partnership with Nissan, which helped develop the Duster’s four-wheel drive system – is still relatively new to the UK, so no long-term reliability statistics are available.
Part of the reason the Duster is so cheap, however, is that it makes extensive use of proven parts. The engines, for example, have given years of service in many Renaults. Although Dacia has no track record in Britain, its cars – including the Duster - have been sold in various markets across the world for many years, including countries whose roads are poor and where vehicle durability takes precedence over fripperies.
The Duster’s standard warranty is an unremarkable three years or 60,000 miles. Extended five-year/60,000 mile and seven-year/100,000 mile warranties are affordable options.
Dacia Duster safety & security
Safety is one of the areas where the Duster is off the pace. It has the basics, with four airbags as standard across the range, but curtain airbags are not available at all, and there’s no option for city braking or drowsy-driver alert systems.
At launch, the model didn’t have anti-lock brakes and stability control as standard, contributing to a disappointing three-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. A recent facelift means all UK Dusters now have these important items of safety kit, although the absence of a speed limiter is likely to peg back the model’s Euro NCAP rating if it is re-tested. Rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai show how car safety should be done – but at a price.
Thatcham Research, a vehicle security firm, has not tested any Dacia for resistance to forced entry and theft. However, the steel wheels on the two cheapest trim levels aren’t likely to attract thieves, but it’s disappointing that an alarm is part of the optional Protection Pack (an immobilizer is standard).
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This entry-level trim keeps the price low but it’s very hard to recommend because it’s desperately short on kit. Electric front windows, remote central locking and the same safety kit as other Dusters are included, but there’s no radio, no driver’s seat height adjustment, no USB input socket and no covers for the steel wheels.
Our pick Ambiance
This is our favourite trim in the Duster range. It’s far from luxurious but provides useful extras over Access trim, such as a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a stereo with Bluetooth connectivity. Things are still pretty basic, however, with no air conditioning, and very little to choose from on the options list.
This top-spec trim includes the kind of things that fairly basic versions of most rivals get as standard, such as air conditioning, electric rear windows, alloy wheels and heated, electrically adjustable door mirrors. It pushes the price up to a point where the Duster is no longer that cheap, however, and everyday features such as reversing sensors and an alarm remain optional extras.