Dacia Duster Small 4x4 Car - The Dacia car brand may not be familiar, but the Duster crossover is one of the cheapest small SUVs for sale around the UK. Quite simply, this compact SUV is little money for a lot of car.
Any review of the Dacia Duster Compact SUV has to describe it as a very basic sport utility vehicle and one which has low awareness in the world of small 4x4 cars. It is the staggeringly low price that is causing a stir for most trade appraisals.
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that all Dusters are manufactured as joint projects by Renault and their Romanian subsidiary, called Dacia (since 2010). This is the reason why they are also known as the Renault Duster in certain international markets, such as in Mexico, India, and South Africa.
When we reviewed the Dacia Duster Compact SUV, we soon realized that the budget price of the entry-level version comes at a cost. The styling refinement and road handling of the small SUV are a little disappointing. It is also lacking on hi-tech equipment inside the cabin (there is no radio on the base model). But perhaps the most significant failing has to be its low Euro NCAP safety rating for this relatively unknown brand.
Dacia describes the Duster compact crossover-style SUV as 'shockingly affordable'. You might sum that up by acknowledging that you can buy a new car at a used car price!
Of course, it's not easy to shock some 4x4 owners, but we do agree that the price tag is significantly less than many of its competitors such as the Nissan Qashqai.
Our review was certainly shocked by the size of the Duster. It is surprisingly roomy inside, despite its throaty 1.6-litre engine under the bonnet.
We also accept that Dacia cars are fairly new to the United Kingdom and there are always compromises required for saving money. Perhaps the best news in any review of the Dacia Duster 4x4 is the enviable relationship with a proven car manufacturer such as Renault.
The choice of Dacia Duster specifications for engine block is limited but a simple one - petrol or a diesel? All of the Duster's mechanical specs have already been well proven in millions of Renaults and Nissans.
We felt the 1.6-litre petrol engine was a little slow, so you might benefit from choosing the 1.5-litre dCi. The Duster is easy to drive and adequately provides its owners with a decent ride and acceptable road handling.
If you buy one of the Dacia Duster 4x4 versions, the ride is complemented with an all-wheel drive setup and sturdy looks. Let's be honest, this is no Land Rover so you would be wise to accept a mediocre performance on muddy fields and off-road terrain.
There is no denying that the Dacia Duster Compact SUV is blessed with a spacious cabin for driver and passengers with a surprising amount of space in its large boot.
The Dacia Duster interior is best described as basic, (perhaps too basic) sensible, uncluttered, and workmanlike. Another way of reviewing the inside of the car is to point out that there are few buttons, and even less hi-tech gadgets.
On the plus side, the simplistic and lackluster interior means it's easy to control and you don't need to read every section in the Dacia Duster car owner's manual.
On reflection, perhaps we would accept the Duster being less affordable in exchange for some cabin equipment, such as a stereo radio and air con, which you might expect from the current lineup of top ten small 4x4 SUV cars and crossovers.
The Dacia Duster gets its mechanicals from Renault, and as such, there is a lot of value and reliability invested in this small compact crossover. It is basic and simple, and it should provide its owners a lifetime of cheap motoring. Nonetheless, it clearly ranks significantly lower on statistics regarding fuel economy and low-emissions - compared to newer alternative small 4x4 SUVs.