Review: Dacia Duster (2018)
Much improved from previous Duster with improved refinement. Vastle better interior. Still affordable. New 1,332cc 130 and 150PS petrol engines from 2019.
Initially no diesel 4x4 model. 1.6 SCe petrol engine is slow. Basic Access model doesn't even get a radio. In DCI model, AdBlue tank means full size spare cannot be carried in the wheel well.
Dacia Duster (2018): At A Glance
- New prices start from £10,995, brokers can source from £9,245
- Contract hire deals from £155.26 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 10–15
- On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure
When it comes to new cars, there's not much you can get for £10,000 these days - even the cheapest Fiesta would set you back another £4k. Yet you can get your hands on a shiny new Dacia Duster for your hard earned £10k. And it represents a lot of SUV for the money.
Dacia says it has spent the past five years listening to existing Duster owners to find out exactly what needed to be improved when it came to producing the 2018 generation Duster.
What those owners must have said is sort the interior out, as it's here where you'll find the biggest changes from the old model. This is still a budget car, make no mistake, but it's a lot nicer inside now with less rough plastics and a better quality finish.
The seats have been redesigned and are far more comfortable, plus you get the added bonus that the driver's seat no longer wobbles. Which is nice. It's also much quieter inside, thanks to better sound insulation.
Go for the basic Access model with its headline sub-£10k price and you'll have to be prepared to make some compromises. For starters there's no radio. At all. So the steel wheels will be the least of your worries. Still, you do get electric front windows, Isofix in the back and a heater.
You're better off with an Essential which gets things like air con while Comfort at £13,195 comes with ssatnav. Even the top Prestige model still looks very good value for money at £14,500 considering it gets climate control, keyless entry, parking sensors and navigation.
The 1.6 SCe engine is fine around town but pretty gutless if you want any sort of half decent acceleration. Fortunately the far superior 1.2 TCe is on its way. The 1.5 dCi is the best choice if it's low down pulling power and big mileage economy you want.
The Duster is pretty much what you'd expect from behind the wheel. The steering is responsive enough and it rides reasonably well but as with the old Duster, this is a car that's designed for affordable A-to-B motoring, if it's bells and whistles you want, you'll be disappointed. What you do get is an honest and unpretentious SUV that's great value.
What does a Dacia Duster (2018) cost?
Dacia Duster (2018): What's It Like Inside?
While this Duster is based on the same platform as the old model, Dacia says it started with a clean slate (our favourite kind of slate) when it came to the interior.
It's definitely a big improvement from the previous model and now less like a mish mash of old Renault parts. It still feels like a budget car, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it is now at least somewhere you can enjoy rather and endure.
The plastics are all that bit nicer and less scratchy, while the gear lever and steering wheel are much nicer to hold. The design is more user-friendly with the ventilation controls and screen all moved up the centre console plus there's better cabin storage too.
What we noticed immediately is how much more comfortable the seats are. That's down to denser foam which makes for much better support, something you'll appreciate if you're spending a few hours behind the wheel, plus there's now side support bolsters too.
The front seat cushions are a little longer and all models have a centre armrest, lumbar adjustment and a new height-adjustment system with more travel than before. Overall it means it's now much easier to find a comfortable driving position in the Duster, especially if you're tall. Another added bonus is that the driver's seat no longer wobbles when it's at its lowest setting.
The boot is the same size as before - so 445 litres in a two-wheel drive and 411 litres if you have a 4WD. It has a usefully wide opening and a low load lip, so it's easy to get bulky or heavy things into.
Standard equipment from launch:
Access models get LED daytime running lights, height-adjustable front headrests and seat belts, ECO mode and Stop and Start, gearshift indicator, a Thatcham-approved engine immobiliser, automatic door lock, ABS and Emergency Brake Assist, ESC/ASR (Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control), new full length curtain airbags, Isofix points in the rear, 16-inch steel wheels and electric front windows.
Essential adds 16-inch 'Fidji' steel wheels, body coloured front and rear bumpers, manual air conditioning, heat adjustable driver’s seat, DAB radio with steering-column mounted controls and Bluetooth connectivity.
Comfort gets 16-inch ‘Cyclade’ alloy wheels, front-seat armrest, leather steering wheel, graphite cloth upholstery, rear parking camera and sensors, electric front and rear windows, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, MediaNav 7.0 inch touchscreen multimedia system (Satellite navigation, USB and AUX connection points) and a 7-function on-board computer.
Prestige comes with 17-inch ‘Diamond-cut’ alloy wheels, multi-view camera, blind spot warning, climate control and keyless entry.
Child seats that fit a Dacia Duster (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Dacia Duster (2018) like to drive?
From launch there was no 1.2 TCe so if you want petrol the 1.6 SCe is the only choice, available with two or four-wheel drive. This is something of a rarity in modern cars - a non-turbocharged petrol engine - and you can see why. It's fine at low speeds but ask it to do even a modicum of acceleration and it struggles.
Catch it in too high a gear and you will wait an age for it to find any get up and go, so joining fast flowing dual carriageways from short slip roads requires high revs and nerves of steel. There are also some strange flat spots through the revs so it's not a pleasant engine for motorway driving.
It's not all bad news. As we said, it's fine for around town and the gearbox delivers a reasonable precise and nicely weighted shift. It just feels a bit like driving a car from the early 2000s.
The diesel is a much better bet if you're going to be regularly hitting major roads thanks to its extra torque. It has the same 115PS as the 1.6 SCe but 260Nm of pulling power compared to 156Nm. The diesel should also prove cheap to run with economy around the mid to late 40mpg.
This Duster is not actually a bad thing to drive. It handles perfectly well and the steering is responsive on the move yet nice and light when parking, helped by a new electric power steering system which according to Dacia requires 35 percent less effort to turn. The ride is acceptable too and the whole thing just feels much more refined than the previous model.
What you will notice is how much quieter it is than the old model. Thanks to thicker front glass, improved door deals and better sound insulation, cabin noise has been halved. It makes it a much nicer car for long journeys, especially the diesel.
|1.0 TCE 4x2||-||12.5 s||128 g/km|
|1.2 TCE 4x2||46 mpg||10.4 s||138–139 g/km|
|1.2 TCE 4x4||44 mpg||11.0 s||145 g/km|
|1.3 TCE 4x2||46 mpg||10.4–11.1 s||137–139 g/km|
|1.3 TCE 4x4||-||10.6 s||137 g/km|
|1.5 Blue dCi 4x2||64 mpg||11.8 s||115 g/km|
|1.5 Blue dCi 4x4||60 mpg||12.1 s||123 g/km|
|1.5 dCi 4x2||63–64 mpg||10.5–12.1 s||109–116 g/km|
|1.5 dCi 4x4||60 mpg||12.4 s||109 g/km|
|1.6 SCe 4x2||44–44 mpg||11.0–11.9 s||145–149 g/km|
|1.6 SCe 4x4||40–42 mpg||12.0–12.9 s||155–158 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Dacia Duster (2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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