Dacia Duster Review & Prices
The new Duster offers a hard wearing interior and is good-value family transport, just don’t expect as much clever tech as competitors
Find out more about the Dacia Duster
Since the Dacia Duster launched in 2010 it’s become a byword for ruggedness, practicality and incredible value. The new third-generation model, which will launch in 2024, looks set to continue this trend, but brings refreshed looks, new tech and for the first time the option of hybrid power.
Because Dacia has an all-new large SUV planned for 2025, it resisted the temptation to swell the Duster’s dimensions. It’s almost the same size as the car it replaces, but with pumped-up styling that makes it look like one of those high-tech walking boots for the road. And like a walking boot, the Duster’s ideally suited to tough terrain, as it’s part of a dwindling group of small SUVs available with four-wheel drive.
Competitors for the Duster are universally more expensive and less durable, but include small SUVs such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. The 4x4 variant has even fewer models to do battle with, rivalling only the Jeep Renegade and Suzuki Ignis.
Lots of the new styling touches are really practical. The plastic cladding along the front and sides should protect from errant trollies in supermarket car parks, with the material on the front and rear being the same colour all the way through - which means scratches and scrapes won’t show.
Other plastics used on the exterior are made of a recycled material Dacia’s calling ‘Starkle’, keen to bolster the car’s eco-credentials.
Key to this is the introduction of the Duster’s first hybrid engine. It’s the same system as you’ll find in the Dacia Jogger hybrid, and if that car is anything to go by it’ll be extremely efficient, if a little clunky. Other engines available are a mild hybrid petrol, which will be available with four-wheel drive, and a lower-powered entry-level unit that can run on either petrol or cheaper LPG.
If you want the most metal for the least money, the Dacia Duster takes some beating
Inside, the new Duster is much more sophisticated than the old model. The entry-level car just comes with a phone mount in the centre, but the next trim up brings a touchscreen infotainment system with wireless smartphone connectivity. It also comes with a 7.0-inch digital dashboard display, making for a surprisingly slick and high-tech looking dashboard.
Dacia’s value roots become obvious when you start poking around - you won’t find soft-touch plastics anywhere in the Duster’s interior. Everything feels hard wearing, though, and interesting textures mean it looks quite cool - we really like the rubber floor mats, which are designed to look like map contours.
The robust surfaces should prove well up to the rigours of family life, or adventuring - they’ll withstand a lot of punishment, and wipe clean easily.
It’s also really spacious for a small SUV, with space for six-foot adults in the rear and a big, square boot with some useful underfloor storage.
If the new Duster interests you but you can’t wait for its release, you could check out Carwow’s deals across the Dacia model range, or have a look for a used Dacia Duster. Or look at the rest of our favourite small SUVs to see the Duster’s main competitors. And when you’ve chosen your new set of wheels, don’t forget you can sell your current car through Carwow too.
Pricing for the new Dacia Duster hasn’t been finalised for the UK, but expect it to arrive with a very competitive price point of less than £20,000. Value is always a given when buying a Dacia, so expect the Duster to undercut its main competitors by a significant margin. Finance packages don’t always have the most favourable interest rates, but the low list price means monthly costs are often still far cheaper than comparably sized SUVs.
Four trim levels will be offered. Essential includes rear parking sensors, air-conditioning and fixed roof bags, but does without a central touchscreen or alloy wheels. Expression is the next step up and has 17-inch alloys, a 7.0-inch digital dashboard and 10.1-inch centre touchscreen with a reversing camera and smartphone connectivity.
Above this you can go in two different directions. The Extreme model is a bit more rugged, and has washable upholstery, rubber floor mats, climate control, Dacia’s clever modular roof bars and keyless entry. The Journey model also has climate control and keyless entry, but also has foglights, 18-inch alloy wheels and an upgraded sound system.
Roomy for its size, but the Duster is still a small SUV
Practicality is a high point for the Dacia Duster. The rear seats have plenty of space and the boot is larger than some cars from the size above.
The driver’s seat does have height adjustment, but it misses out on additional features such as an extendable seat base, and the lumbar support can’t be adjusted up and down. The front seats are squashy and comfortable but don’t feel as though they’d hold you in place while cornering. The hard wearing upholstery appears more expensive than you’d expect given the Duster’s budget leanings, though.
There are plenty of storage slots for odds and ends, including a shelf perfectly sized for your smartphone, a pair of cupholders and large door bins. There’s also a clever modular system called YouClip that Dacia’s developed, with mounting points across the cabin and boot - you’ll be able to attach clamps, phone or tablet holders or even lights. Expect to see a whole range of Dacia accessories developed to fit this in the future.
Space in the back seats
The rear doors open nice and wide, and the flat rear bench lends itself well to accommodating three adults - assuming they can fit width-wise. It’s comfortable for two six-footers, though, even if they’re sat behind a driver of a similar size. Headroom is generous and the big windows give a great view out.
There’s USB-C charging available for rear passengers, as well as one of the aforementioned mounting points - ideal for mounting a tablet so that those in the back can watch a movie or play a game on a long journey.
Boot space varies depending on the model you select. Two-wheel drive petrol models get 472 litres of space, which is one of the biggest boots in a car of this size - more than the 385 litres of the Volkswagen T-Cross or 400 litres of the Skoda Kamiq. Four-wheel drive and hybrid models lose some capacity as they have mechanicals to accommodate under the rear - raising the boot floor by a few inches.
The rear seats fold easily with tabs on the top edge, but they do leave a significant hump in the load floor when flat. They go down in a 60:40 split, and there are bag hooks and an optional rubber liner to keep the carpet clean.
Adventurous sorts will enjoy the optional Sleep Pack, which takes the form of a bespoke wooden box in the rear. Using the dropped seat backs, you’ll be able to fold out a double bed for comfortable in-car camping.
Hard wearing and well-built, but far from plush
Basic models of the Dacia Duster really live up to that title - they don’t even get a central infotainment screen. Instead, you get a mount for your phone in the middle of the dashboard, from which you can run a bespoke Dacia app or your own choice of sat nav and media. The car does still have a radio if you don’t want to plug in your phone; you can control this via the small screen in the instrument panel and the buttons on the steering wheel.
Most models come with a 10.1-inch touchscreen instead, which is much brighter, slicker and better-looking than in any Dacia that’s come before this. It offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as displaying the reversing camera, while top-spec models also get built-in sat nav.
The overall style is sort of cyberpunk meets lumberjack. It’s clearly designed for hard work outdoors, with rubber floor mats, wipe-clean surfaces and nice touches like off-road specific information available on the infotainment screen. But it’s also quite cool and angular, and uses interesting textures and patterns to hide the fact that the materials are quite a long way from plush.
Though the steering wheel and gear selector feel posh enough in the hand, areas such as the door cards and armrests are made entirely of hard, unyielding plastics. These will no doubt stand up to some real punishment but they don’t conjure up a very premium feel - nor are they that nice to touch. That is to be expected given the car’s price, though.
Official fuel economy figures for the Duster haven’t been released yet so we can only speculate. However, Dacia (and parent company Renault) has used these engines before. The 1.6-litre hybrid, fitted in the Jogger, can achieve over 50mpg with ease - though the Duster’s blockier body might see this drop a little.
The hybrid will certainly offer the lowest CO2 emissions of the Duster’s engines, and so the lowest road tax or company car rates. Opting for a higher trim level or a 4x4 variant will see emissions increase, with a corresponding rise in tax.
The Bi-Fuel 1.0-litre could be an interesting proposition if you live close to an LPG filling station. LPG is typically around half the price of petrol, and could result in much lower running costs.
Dacia’s official Euro NCAP scores often suffer as the firm tends to shy away from fitting active driver aids. However, the new Duster comes equipped with all the basics as they’re now required by European law - so you get autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition with a speed alert, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitoring and rear parking sensors. We’ll see how that holds up when Euro NCAP gets round to testing the new Duster.
Historically Dacia’s no-nonsense engineering has led to reasonable reliability - less to go wrong! The new Duster introduces a lot more software and safety systems to the fray, but the engines and oily bits are well-proven and should be pretty dependable.