What Car? says...
The advice that if you “buy cheap, you buy twice” may be wise if you're choosing a fridge or sofa, but the Dacia Duster family SUV hopes to convince you it offers thriftiness that will leave you feeling rather smug.
In the world of wheels, Dacia is the champion when it comes to giving motorists a lot of car for their money. The Duster can cost as little as half the price of a mid-spec Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq, and handsomely undercuts the Renault Kadjar.
Naturally, other brands have cottoned on to the Dacia low-cost family SUV formula, and the MG ZS matches the Duster for size and challenges it on price. Does that make a better buy, or should you stick to the old adage and set your sights on something a little pricier?
Well, we've tested it thoroughly and will let you know how the Dacia Duster compares with all its main rivals, including the Seat Ateca and the Skoda Karoq. We'll also let you know what we think of the performance, handling, interior quality and much more.
Whichever new car you decide to buy, make sure you find it for the lowest price by searching our free What Car? New Car Deals pages.
The Dacia Duster managed a very respectable joint fourth place out of 28 models in the family SUVs category of our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. Dacia finished second place behind Lexus out of 30 car brands in the survey. The Duster’s warranty is a fairly standard three years or 60,000 miles policy, but there are five and seven-year plans available for a fee. Read more here
There are no hybrid or electric car versions of the Dacia Duster to appeal to company car drivers, but there is the Bi-Fuel, which can run on LPG and petrol. It has a 48.8-litre LPG tank to supplement the car’s standard 50-litre petrol tank for a range of 800 miles. LPG costs around half the price of petrol, slashing running costs. Read more here
We recommend the Dacia Duster’s 1.3-litre TCe 130 petrol engine, which gives you a good blend of performance and efficiency, with mid-range Comfort trim. Comfort adds lumbar adjustment for the driver and an 8in infotainment touchscreen that can run phone apps with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. It also has sat-nav, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and automatic emergency braking (AEB). Read more here
The Dacia Duster’s Comfort trim is the well-equipped mid-range choice. Upgrading to the more expensive top-spec Prestige adds model-specific upholstery, heated front seats, climate control, 17in alloys, blind-spot monitoring and a surround view camera system. Read more here
If you opt for the entry-level Essential Dacia Duster, you’ll get a basic DAB radio. Comfort adds an 8in infotainment touchscreen with full smartphone connectivity, while Prestige models add sat-nav. We’d prefer to have some physical shortcut buttons, but at least the system responds swiftly to prods and swipes. The screen in the instrument cluster is a simple monochrome affair. Read more here
Big by family SUV standards. The four-wheel-drive Dacia Duster has a slightly smaller boot than the front-wheel-drive version (414 litres instead of 478), but we managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases in both. It’s a similar size to the Nissan Qashqai boot, but a Skoda Karoq is quite a bit bigger, taking three more cases in its 521 litres. Read more here
The Duster’s eye-catching prices are possible because Dacia is owned by Renault, which is able to reuse the proven underpinnings of its own cars in order to save on development and manufacturing costs. Dacia also has a laser focus on providing the in-car technology customers want but no more, keeping prices down; this has, however, led to its vehicles sometimes getting lower safety ratings than higher-priced rivals. Read more here
The Dacia Duster has boomed in popularity in recent years, its rugged, no-nonsense features and low price creating a considerable fanbase. That, in turn, is reflected in the fact used versions are extremely popular, pushing up prices to the extent that a three-year, 36,000-mile model is predicted by our residual value experts to impressively retain more than 50% of its original value. Read more here
|RRP price range||£14,845 - £22,145|
|Number of trims (see all)||7|
|Number of engines (see all)||9|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol, hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||44.1 - 58.9|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£932 / £1,399|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,864 / £2,798|