Dacia Duster introduction
Now in its second generation, the Dacia Duster has established itself as a practical and rugged SUV that won't cost an arm and a leg to buy new or used. The current version was launched in the UK in 2018, following on from the original which had been on sale since 2013, and has proved to be a favourite with families looking for inexpensive transport.
Some might consider it a cut-price rival to the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq, but it's been developed to perform in some of the world's toughest markets. And as such, you'd expect it it be similarly priced – but no, the Duster is significantly cheaper than both, and as such occupies a unique position in the market.
What Dacia Duster models are there?
Currently, there's a single Dacia Duster bodystyle to choose from – the five-door SUV model. But there are two engine options – a 115hp 1.6-litre petrol and a 115hp 1.5-litre diesel. Both are only available with a manual gearbox initially, with a four-wheel drive option for the petrol.
The model range starts at the basic Access at just £9,995. However, it doesn't come with air conditioning, or a radio and speakers, which means it's for masochists only. Beyond that, you there's the Essential, Comfort and Prestige models, which add the kit you really need.
There is an automatic option, but it’s only available with two-wheel drive on the 110hp 1.5 diesel and costs £1,000 more than a manual version of the same engine. It’s available in Laureate and Prestige trim levels only.
Dacia Duster design and styling
The Duster is a gentle evolution of the previous-generation model, and none the worse for it. So you get a smooth five-door body, raised ride height and roof bars. Unusually for an SUV, it doesn't come with plastic side cladding, which might make car park manoeuvring a little more nervewracking than it might.
Although the Duster is clearly a budget car, it doesn't really look like one. With nicely detailed head and tail lights and subtle chrome trim on the more expensive models, you won't be left feeling like a second-class citizen.
Inside, the 2018 model has been massively lifted from the previous-generation model, with decent infotainment and chunky controls that don't feel cheap to touch. Don't expect Volkswagen-levels of interior quality, and you'll be far from disappointed.
Is the Dacia Duster good to drive?
Yes, and we like it so much that we awarded it the Best Off-Roader in the 2019 Parkers New Car Awards. You can find out why our testers rate this small off-roader so highly in our in-depth review, including buying and selling tips and how it stacks up with rivals. Plus, don’t forget to check our Dacia Duster owners’ reviews.
You’re able to buy some Dusters with four-wheel drive, and we rate it among the best cheap 4x4s around, but the vast majority will only have the front wheels driven because these models cost less to run.
Whether two-wheel drive or four, the Duster is a very impressive off-roader that’ll stand up to tough terrain better than many small SUVs of a similar size. Given its strong off-road credentials, it'll be among the best small SUVs when the winter hits.
How much does a Dacia Duster cost?
With a list price for the Access version coming in at less than £10,000, the Duster is a truly affordable choice. But it isn't just in terms of the sticker price – you can get a Duster for less than £150 per month even with a deposit of just over £600 (on a three-year, 6,000-mile-per-year contract)*.
As we said, it's a truly affordable choice. You can spend more than £17,000 on a Duster, and for that money, you'll get a Prestige model loaded with sat-nav and climate control – and all of the ruggedness you'd expect from a Dacia. Want that infotainment and central screen? You'll need to go to Comfort trim and above to get the 7.0-inch multimedia system as standard. A smartphone with a navigation app such as Waze would make an excellent substitute if you’re going for a lower-cost model, though.
If you want to get the latest view of the Duster's PCP car finance deals, chack out our Finance Advice section. It's also worth remembering that it also often features in our regularly updated best cars for £100 a month article.
Dacia Duster Model History
Second-generation Dacia Duster model timeline
- June 2018
Second-generation Dacia Duster introduced in the UK with 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel power. Two- and four-wheel drive options available with choice of basic Access trim and Essential, Comfort and Prestige trims.
First-generation Dacia Duster
- Read the full review of the Dacia Duster (2012-2018)
The 2012-2018 Duster was available with a choice of two petrols and one diesel engine – all of which were available in various other Renault models. All of them could have been specified with either two- or four-wheel drive.
There was a 115hp 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol powering Access and Ambiance models – badged SCe 115, while higher-spec Laureate and Prestige Dusters came with a 125hp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol badged TCe 125.
The former emitted between 145g/km and 155g/km of CO2 depending on whether you opted for two- or four-wheel drive, while the turbo petrol emits between 138g/km and 145g/km.