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Dacia Duster (2012-2018) Review logo

Dacia Duster (2012-2018) Review

Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster

1/10

Dacia Duster

2/10

Dacia Duster

3/10

Dacia Duster

4/10

Dacia Duster

5/10

Dacia Duster

6/10

Dacia Duster

7/10

Dacia Duster

8/10

Dacia Duster

9/10

Dacia Duster

10/10

1 / 10

  • Launched in 2012
  • Crossover
  • Petrol, Diesel
  • Launch year
    2012
  • Body type
    Crossover
  • Fuel type
    Petrol, Diesel

Interested in buying a Dacia Duster?

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heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
Practical and spacious budget crossover

Best bits

  • Spacious cabin with seating for five adults
  • Large boot with a low loading lip
  • Exceptional value for money, especially when buying used

Not so great

  • Questionable cabin quality with some cheap finishes
  • Lacks the safety credentials of more expensive rivals
  • Cheapest models lack basic equipment

Read by

Dacia Duster Front

Overall verdict

Dacia Duster Interior

On the inside

Dacia Duster Driving

Driving

Dacia Duster Driving

How much does it cost to run

Dacia Duster Side

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Dacia Duster makes a mockery of premium price tags and those lifestyle adverts you’ll see in glossy magazines. Few cars offer this much space and practicality for such a low price."

Dacia Duster Front

What’s the catch? That’s the first question you might ask when looking at prices of the Dacia Duster. When so many car manufacturers appear to be pushing further upmarket, Dacia remains a resolutely budget brand.


Which makes the Duster all the more refreshing. What it lacks in badge appeal and finesse, it more than makes up for in terms of space, practicality and value for money. Drive a Dacia Duster and you can show two fingers to the motoring establishment. Metaphorically speaking, of course.


It’s almost without direct rivals, with a size that pitches it against cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga, but a price tag that’s more akin to the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Peugeot 108.


Although there’s a limited range of engines, each one is well up to the task of powering the Duster, with the 1.5 dCi diesel a particularly impressive performer. A blend of fuel efficiency, low CO2 emissions and punch make it the engine of choice, unless you spend a lot of time in the city.


For a car at the budget end of the market, the Duster is also surprisingly comfortable, with an ability to smooth out all but the worst imperfections in the road. For seriously tough conditions, a four-wheel-drive Duster is available. Make no mistake, the Duster 4x4 is up to most off-road challenges.


There’s space inside for five adults, which isn’t something you can always say about cars of this size, with the room in the cabin not coming at the expense of luggage capacity. The boot is of a good shape, while the low lip and wide tailgate make loading a doddle.


So what is the catch? Well the basic Duster Access is about as generous as Scrooge before he saw the light, while even the Ambiance version isn’t exactly loaded like Santa’s sack.


Top trim levels offer a decent specification, but the more you spend on the Duster, the less attractive it gets. The idea of a Duster with no radio or air conditioning might sound fun for three minutes, but over the course of a three-year finance deal, we suspect the novelty will have worn off.


The first-generation Dacia Duster of 2012 to 2018 also lacks the kind of safety equipment we take for granted in 2020, while the provision of in-car entertainment and connectivity is at least a generation behind what you might expect and demand.


Not that any of this detracts from what is a thoroughly appealing, almost charming vehicle. We love its no-nonsense approach to motoring. It’s the John Smith’s bitter of the car world – just don’t try doing a ‘running bomb’ into your nearest municipal swimming pool. ’Ave it.


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Dacia Duster (2018-) review.

Is the Dacia Duster right for you?

If you want a practical and spacious SUV for the price of a city car, the Dacia Duster is the vehicle for you. Headline-grabbing prices when new translate to seriously tempting deals on used Dusters, making this one of the best value second-hand cars in the UK.


It’s not just about the price. Proven Renault parts provide some reassurance, while seating for five and a large boot make the Duster a terrific choice for growing families. It’s like a giant Tonka toy, with proper go-anywhere spirit, especially if you opt for a four-wheel-drive version.


The Duster might not have a premium badge, but if you shop in Lidl or Aldi you’ll know that the feeling of getting more for your money can be quite satisfying. Buy a Dacia and you’ll have more money left for the things that are important to you.

What’s the best Dacia Duster model/engine to choose?

We’re not keen on sitting on the fence – not least because it’s quite uncomfortable – but we’d recommend one of two engines. If you spend a lot of time on the motorway, carrying large loads or towing, the 1.5 dCi diesel is the best option.


It’s a tried and tested unit found in a range of Dacia, Renault and Nissan models, offering a superb balance of performance and fuel economy. However, if you spend most of your time in the city or doing short trips, the 1.2-litre TCe unit is cheaper than the diesel and offers respectable fuel economy. You’ll also pay less at the pumps and have no concerns about diesel particulate filters (DPF).


Trim levels have changed during the car’s lifetime, but we’d recommend the mid-spec Ambiance at the very least for the best blend of price and equipment. Laureate was the top trim on early models, but was more mid-range by the time production had finished, so it’s worth a look.

What other cars are similar to the Dacia Duster?

It would be a stretch to say that the Dacia Duster is a unique proposition, but it does occupy a niche in the UK. From a price perspective, it rivals city cars and budget superminis.


Practically speaking, the Dacia Duster is a rival to the Nissan Qashqai, but value-driven cars like the SsangYong Tivoli, MG ZS and Suzuki Vitara also count as competitors. For off-road antics, the Duster can count the likes of the Fiat Panda 4x4 and Suzuki Jimny as rivals when the going gets a bit ‘Billy Ocean’. These budget mountain goats can climb nearly every mountain and ford the majority of streams.

Learn more

Dacia Duster Interior

On the inside

Dacia Duster Driving

Driving

Dacia Duster Driving

How much does it cost to run

Dacia Duster Side

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Which Duster model is best?

If you spend a lot of time on the motorway, carrying large loads or towing, the 1.5 dCi diesel is the best option and the mid-level Ambiance is the best trim level to go for.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

Is the Duster a safe car?

The Dacia Duster was awarded three stars (out of five) for safety when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2011. Scores of 74% and 78% for adult and child occupant protection were pretty decent, but 28% and 29% for pedestrian safety and safety assistance systems were well below par.

heycar editorial team

Answered by

heycar editorial team

Can you get an automatic Dacia Duster?

Most first generation Duster models are fitted with a manual gearbox although a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission was an option on the front-wheel-drive Duster diesel.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

Interested in buying a Dacia Duster?

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