Dacia Duster Prestige review

Does choosing the range-topping version of a budget choice such as the Dacia Duster make sense?

The latest Dacia Duster was brought out in 2018 and, despite a thorough redesign, more modern engines and a slightly more premium-feeling interior, it’s still the cheapest new SUV you can buy in the UK. The average buyer is best to avoid base-spec Access (there’s no air-conditioning or radio) but how far up the range should you go? We’re testing the top-spec Prestige to see whether it’s worth the extra outlay.

Prestige spec is well equipped, and not just for a Dacia. On top of the Comfort spec, it adds alloy wheels that are two-colour and a size larger, blind-spot monitoring, climate control, keyless entry, a multi-view camera with parking sensors and Prestige upholstery.

Best cars for £15,000

The Comfort trim offers essentials like cruise control, a trip computer, electric rear windows, heated and electrically adjustable mirrors and body coloured door handles, plus a seven-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rear-view camera. Even Essential, which sits directly above Access, has air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and front fog lights.

Only the top two trim levels are available with Dacia’s new 148bhp petrol engine, which matches the 41.5mpg of the 128bhp petrol but reduces the 0-62mph time by almost a second. This engine is more expensive but only it and the diesel engine are offered with four-wheel-drive. The entry-level 99bhp three-cylinder TCe 100 petrol engine isn’t available for the range-topping Prestige model but it’s likely to feel underpowered in a car of the Duster’s size. The only diesel is Dacia’s Blue dCi engine with 113bhp.

We’d recommend avoiding four-wheel drive unless you’re sure you really need it. It reduces fuel economy and increases the acceleration time and price - on Prestige trim that means you’ll be paying around £19,000. That’s a lot for a budget-oriented brand, and cars like the Suzuki Jimny are better off-road anyway.

Avoid four-wheel drive and the Dacia Duster is still well-priced on the company’s finance calculator. Choose the Prestige spec and the TCe 150 engine and you’ll be paying just over £200 per month after a deposit of roughly £2,500. Few other top-spec SUVs can be had for this price.

Verdict - 3/5

The primary selling point of Dacia’s cars is value, and choosing a top-spec Duster detracts from this a little. As long as you pick the right engine, the Prestige trim is still good value compared to other SUVs but even a range-topping Duster has a rugged yet plasticky interior and a disappointing three-star Euro NCAP safety rating. We recommend avoiding the Prestige trim and saving even more money by buying either the Essential or Comfort trims - they better suit the Dacia’s simplicity and provide all the necessary equipment.

Read our review of the Dacia Duster or see where it ranks on our list of best Motability cars.

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