That price isn’t a misprint. For less than you’d pay for the tiny Kia Rio three-door, Dacia will sell you a five-seat 4×4. It’s a bit rough and ready in places, but the Duster is undeniably a bargain.

It makes a decent tow car, too. Soft suspension gives a slightly floaty feel to the ride when towing, but this doesn’t translate into instability at speed. In fact, we’d be happy to tow on long motorway journeys with the Duster. Just be patient getting up to 60mph. Foot to the floor, the Dacia needs 25.9 seconds to go from 30-60mph. Braking is also acceptable rather than outstanding, stopping from 30mph in 11.2m on dry Tarmac.

A short first gear made easy work of the hill start, and the Dacia was almost as comfortable reversing up a slope as it was going forwards.

So far, so good, but we do have some reservations. The list of standard safety equipment is poor – you’ll need to dip into the list of options for stability control, for example – and the car has only scored three out of five in Euro NCAP crash tests. Boot space is quite limited, failing to take our typical touring load, although the practicality judges were pleased to see a full-size spare.

All in all, however, it’s hard not to be impressed by a car that offers so much for so little.

2019
Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners
2018
1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2017
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*

2016
1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business

2015
1400-1549kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG

2014
1400-1549kg

Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

2013
Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance

2012
1725–1899kg

Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury

2011
1425-1574kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport

2010
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS

2009
1900kg+

Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic

2008
1575-1724kg

Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto

2007
1575-1724kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

ContinueWe use cookies to give you the best browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising.
By continuing to use our website you are accepting our use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.