On the face of it, the pitch made to the market by the Dacia Duster is so outrageous, so bold, so seemingly implausible that your first thought is to find the catch, which instinct tells you simply has to be there.

The fact is this: buy a new Duster and you'll find a good looking compact SUV with a spacious interior, for not much money, parked outside your house. It's cheaper than a Ford Fiesta, and the diminutive Smart car. It’ll only cost marginally more than Fiat’s asking price for the cheapest Panda, for goodness sake. The cheapest Skoda Yeti featuring an engine of identical power to that of the entry level Duster costs notably more.

That said, the headline grabbing entry level price is for a poverty spec model without so much as a radio to its name and if you want your Duster to have four-wheel drive you’ll need to fork about £2000 more.

Moreover the base ‘Access’ grade comes only with 1.6-litre petrol power so if it’s diesel you want you’ll need to hop up to mid-spec ‘Ambience’ which, model for model is a further four-figure chunk of change and even that won’t buy you air-conditioning or alloy wheels. If you want such items as many might these days be regarded as basic essentials, you’ll need the top of the range ‘Laureate’.

Then again even this most dashing Duster of all still costs less than the skinniest Skoda Yeti.

Were this Duster like the last one, which went on sale here briefly at the end of the 1980s, perhaps the pricing would be understandable. But it’s not an automotive excrescence so terrible it makes a bus pass look attractive, it’s an apparently credible product made in a state of the art factory in Chennai, India out of largely Renault and Nissan components.

It’s time to find out if there’s something we’ve missed.

Top 5 Crossovers

  • Nissan Qashqai
    The Nissan Qashqai gets a new look and more functionality in an effort to attract a new generation of buyers

    Nissan Qashqai

    1
  • Ford Kuga
    Ford's targeting a class above with its bigger Kuga

    Ford Kuga

    2
  • The second generation BMW X1

    BMW X1

    3
  • Skoda Yeti
    The Yeti is a crossover that's available with both two- and four-wheel drive

    Skoda Yeti

    4
  • Mazda CX-5
    CX-5's exterior has been shaped using Mazda's 'Kodo - soul of motion' design

    Mazda CX-5

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S-Line
    First Drive
    26 June 2016
    The Audi Q2 is the German brand’s smallest SUV yet. Can it impress in production guise on European roads?
  • Ford S-Max Vignale
    First Drive
    24 June 2016
    The Ford S-Max Vignale is the company's premium executive express. Can it really be worth the extra over the standard S-Max?
  • Volkswagen Scirocco GTS
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Still a really fun and likeable coupé but the extra power doesn't justify the VW Scirocco GTS's high price
  • Ford Fiesta ST200
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Fresh from testing it abroad, we've just got our hands on the Ford Fiesta ST200 for a blat on UK roads
  • Alpina B4 Biturbo Convertible
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Alpina's appealing BMW M4 alternative arrives in convertible form with a more relaxed nature than BMW's M car but still impressive performance and handling