The Dacia Duster has totally moved the goalposts when it comes to affordable SUVs. With prices starting at just £8,995, the Duster can be had for less than the price of an entry-level 1.25-litre Ford Fiesta. Granted, the equipment list for base-spec cars is fairly sparse, but there's currently no cheaper way of getting behind the wheel of a brand-new 4x4.
Although you can order a Duster with front-wheel drive and a petrol engine, the winner of this category has to be the diesel-powered 1.5-litre DCi Laureate 4WD. For just £14,995, you get a top-spec SUV with off-road capability and a decent level of equipment. All Laureate cars get a radio, USB connectivity and Bluetooth as standard. The Dacia Duster feels well put together and its soft suspension soaks up lumps and bumps in the road with total ease. The high driving position gives you a commanding view of the road, while the direct steering and strong brakes make it feel like a hatchback on the move.
Practicality rivals that of mid-sized SUVs costing twice as much, while comparing it to a similarly priced supermini makes the Duster look positively cavernous. The 475-litre boot – increasing to 1,636 litres with the rear seats folded – puts cars like the Nissan Qashqai in the shade. Some may be put off by Dacia's relatively unknown name, but the fact that they are essentially rebadged Renaults should give some peace of mind. All Dusters come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with five and seven-year cover available at extra cost.
Rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai ix35 continue to impress, but neither come close in terms of car for cash. The Dacia Duster isn’t just the cheapest 4x4 on the market; it's also the best value car on sale today.