WHAT IS IT?
A cut-price SUV. It is built in Romania and owned by Renault and aims to offer all the fun and versatility of, say, a Nissan Juke, Renault Kadjar or Kia Sportage but for thousands less. Dacia is pronounced Dar-cher.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The Laureate test version is well equipped and costs £13,495 but the Duster starts at £9,495 on the road.
WHO BUYS IT?
Lots of people love it but it mainly appeals to sensible types who are not swayed by premium styling. You won’t see too many young guns at the wheel.
WHAT ENGINE DOES IT HAVE?
The tested version is a 1-4-litre diesel but there is also a 1.6-litre petrol version. The diesel is the pick of the two managing 64mpg on a run, 0 to 60mph in 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 105mph. This is a two-wheel-drive model. For four-wheel-drive it costs £15,495, which is still low for a 4x4.
BELLS AND WHISTLES?
Laureate is the top trim level and comes with air conditioning, central locking, power steering, powered windows, CD system, twin and side airbags and cruise control. Even the standard model has power steering and electric windows.
The main point is price. There are better-looking rivals but they usually come at a premium price. Duster won’t be an embarrassment and you get a lot of car for the money. Surprisingly, it holds its value better than most, too. It is decent on road and off road and it holds 475 litres of luggage, rising to 1,636 with the rear seats down. It rides and handles as well as you can expect for a bargain SUV. It’s more of a workhorse than a stylish car.
Engine choice is limited but the two options are good. The warranty could be longer. It doesn’t have the youth appeal that a Kadjar or a Juke has.
Incredibly good value and a much sought-after car on the second-hand market. It is bought by people who tend not be swayed by badge-snobbery. It holds its value very well.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
Renault Kadjar, Nissan Juke, Skoda Yeti and Suzuki SX4 S-Cross all give it a run for their money but Dacia keeps winning awards for value.