Dacia Duster review

Category: Family SUV

Section: Introduction

Dacia Duster 2022 front tracking
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front tracking
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear cornering
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior dashboard
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear seats
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior front seats
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior infotainment
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front right tracking
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front cornering
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear lights detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 headlight detail
  • Dacia Duster 2021 right static
  • Dacia Duster 2022 badge detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 boot open
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front tracking
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear cornering
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior dashboard
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear seats
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior front seats
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior infotainment
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front right tracking
  • Dacia Duster 2022 front cornering
  • Dacia Duster 2022 rear lights detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 headlight detail
  • Dacia Duster 2021 right static
  • Dacia Duster 2022 badge detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 interior detail
  • Dacia Duster 2022 boot open
What Car?’s Duster deals
New car deals
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Target Price from £14,775
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or from £154pm
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Nearly new deals
From £18,999
Leasing deals
From £194pm

Introduction

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 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 is a family SUV that can cost as little as half the price of a mid-spec Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq, and handsomely undercuts the Renault Kadjar.

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 Buying service. It's got some compelling Dacia Duster deals.

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Our favourite engine for the Dacia Duster is the 128bhp 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol – badged TCe 130 – because it offers good mid-range oomph and a pleasing briskness when you rev it out. The 0-62mph time is 10.6sec, which is roughly the same as the MG ZS 1.5 and Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI 110, and on the whole, this version has no problem getting up to speed and delivering easy motorway cruising.

Try to avoid the entry-level 1.0-litre TCe 90. The power delivery is quite flat and it takes a relative age to get up to motorway speeds. There’s also a TCe 100 Bi-Fuel version that can run on both petrol and natural gas (LPG). The main benefit of that is the potential for fuel savings, but the engine also delivers more power when running on LPG. It feels a touch stronger from low engine speeds than the standard TCe 90 and, crucially, is smoother and quieter.

Suspension and ride comfort

Dacia Duster 2022 rear cornering

Handling

The Duster handles predictably enough, but its soft suspension means it leans over an awful lot in corners relative to something really tidy to drive, such as the Seat Ateca. Compared with the MG ZS, the Duster lacks grip when you start to press on. The steering feels less consistent and could do with more weight at lower speeds. 

Its trump card comes if you order the four-wheel-drive version and head off-road. Despite what you might expect, the Duster is meant for more than just gravel tracks, and happily tackles pretty much anything that true off-roaders can conquer. 

Yes, you’ll wince a little as it rubs its chin or belly due to the limited ground clearance, but it has no trouble hauling itself up challengingly steep, rutted, muddy or sandy inclines, and will outwit more road-biased SUVs, including the Nissan Qashqai, the Ateca and Karoq, and the two-wheel-drive only MG ZS.

FAQs

  • 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
At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £106
Target Price from £14,775
Save up to £106
or from £154pm
Swipe to see used and leasing deals
Nearly new deals
From £18,999
Leasing deals
From £194pm
RRP price range £14,845 - £21,995
Number of trims (see all)4
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)diesel, petrol, hybrid
MPG range across all versions 44.1 - 57.6
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £932 / £1,346
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,864 / £2,692
Available colours