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.

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Best Budget 4x4 Up to 1424kg

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

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