Incredibly affordable small SUV offers style and substance
- Fantastic value – both cash and PCP finance
- Practical, nicely designed interior
- Pleasant to drive with slick gearbox
- Well-equipped for the price
- Small but offers appealingly boxy SUV stance
- More road noise than pricier rivals
- Ride could be more settled
- Rear seats don’t fold flat
- Diesel models comparatively pricey
- Uncertainty over petrol automatic option
The Dacia Duster is the UK’s cheapest SUV, but despite that you really shouldn’t feel short changed here – although the entry-level Access version is ultra-basic. That stripped-out model means that prices start below £10,000, but more importantly, PCP finance costs are even more impressive.
At launch you can get a Duster for far less than £150 per month even with a deposit of just over £600 (on a three-year, 6,000-mile-per-year contract)*. That’s far less than the Suzuki Vitara, SEAT Ateca and Kia Soul would set you back – both in cash and finance terms – and these are hardly bad value machines.
Even far smaller crossovers would still set you back much more. Don’t think this Dacia has just low pricing to offer – the company claims that it’s vastly improved comfort, refinement and the feeling of quality. And this is no exaggeration – sit inside and you’d undoubtedly vastly overestimate how much the Duster costs.
New Dacia Duster: not only cheap but good value
As a result, the Duster is not only one of the cheapest cars you can buy, but more importantly it really is one of the best value – as you get a surprising amount for the money. Better still, its boxy-but-streamlined styling is appealing in the metal, it’s enjoyable to drive and the interior is practical and clearly laid out.
So, this is not only a car you’d buy because of the low price, but because it appeals in its own right. That’s quite an achievement for an off-roader that costs well under £17,000 even in its most expensive incarnation.
Despite looking similar to its predecessor, every panel is new, giving it a more modern, upmarket style than before. Adding to that impression, the Duster is available with kit that has never been available on a Dacia before, too, including keyless entry, climate control, a parking camera system and automatic headlights.
One petrol and one diesel engine available, four-wheel drive optional
Duster buyers can choose between a 115hp 1.6-litre petrol engine 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.
Additional engines – including a more powerful turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol – further four-wheel drive versions and an automatic gearbox should arrive at a later stage.
As for specifications, four trims are available, varying from super-spartan to a top version that includes kit you’d expect in far more expensive machinery.
New Dacia Duster available in four trim levels
As with other Dacia models, the Duster is available in extremely basic Access form. This costs just £9,995 – £500 more than for the previous version – though Dacia claims it offers lower like-for-like PCP finance costs, making it extremely affordable for those who don’t have lots of cash in the bank.
Available only with the 1.6-litre petrol engine, the Access version does without air conditioning, a radio and speakers, meaning that many drivers will want to pay the extra to step up to Essential trim. This adds niceties such as air-conditioning, radio, Bluetooth and split-folding rear seat, making it much more appealing for most drivers.
A similar price hike takes you up to Comfort specification, which gains alloy wheels, a touchscreen multimedia system with sat-nav and reversing camera with parking sensors.
Range-topping Prestige trim, meanwhile, includes larger 17-inch alloy wheels, part-leather seats, climate control and parking cameras for easier maneuvering.
Rock-bottom PCP finance costs
You’d expect a car with low cash prices to offer affordable finance, but the Duster’s PCP finance is particularly strong value. While a sub-£10,000 Citroen C1 could easily cost you well over £210 per month, the Duster SCe Access is just £129 per month with identical contract terms (36 monthly payments, £612 deposit, 6000-mile-per-year limit)*.
The Duster is so affordable that it’s likely to appeal to many drivers considering financing a used car – as it’s cheaper to finance than a four-year old, 15,000-mile entry-level version of the previous Duster, despite that having a far lower cash price and being a much less appealing car.
The Parkers Verdict
You’d expect a £50,000 car to be comfortable, well equipped, nicely styled and pleasant to drive. But to get all of those things from a car that is available from less than £10,000 – with very good value finance – is far more impressive. So much so that this is a car well worth considering even if you ignore the very low pricing.
The Duster is not perfect – the ride could be a bit smoother, for instance – but Dacia has chosen the corners to cut to allow the low headline prices wisely, giving it far wider appeal than its predecessor.
Read on for the full Dacia Duster SUV review