If this car cost anything like as much its key rivals, we might easily knock a couple of stars off the Duster’s interior rating for the sheer quantity of hard plastic mouldings you’ll find inside it.

However, as with nearly every aspect of the Duster, the need to remind yourself that you’re dealing with what we might reasonably consider to be the UK’s cheapest family car is ever present. After all, you don’t make a viable business proposition for the £13,195 price tag for our Comfort-spec model by throwing leather, wood veneer and brushed aluminium at its every cabin surface.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Just the driver’s seat features height adjustment, and only in Essential spec and above. Front passengers may find themselves in a slightly perched position

Viewed through the ‘shockingly affordable’ lens that Dacia attaches to its marketing bumf, there’s very little to bemoan with regards to the Duster’s cabin. Sure, the plastics aren’t inviting to the touch and, yes, a lot of the switchgear looks plain and some of it feels a little flimsy. But the sculpted shape of the car’s dashboard actually breaks up its surface area quite cleverly and it looks fairly attractive in places, and it doesn’t reflect the sun too much either.

Despite the Duster being pitched as a bargain-basement SUV, you can nevertheless get one with a fairly modern-looking touchscreen infotainment system. Graphically, it’s a pretty rudimentary system — the navigation mapping reminding you more of a third-party add-on solution — but it’s surprisingly responsive and works fine.

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It comes with the majority of features you’d expect, including satellite navigation with traffic information, Bluetooth and DAB radio, while the video feed from the rear parking camera is displayed here too. There are USB slots for smartphone charging and MP3 players can be connected via the auxiliary audio port.

The speakers are surprisingly good given the Duster’s pricing. There’s little in the way of distortion — unless you turn the volume up very loud — and the sound quality isn’t as tinny as it can be on cheap superminis. Marked in isolation, this is by no means an outstanding infotainment system. In the context of a £13k SUV, though, it’s pretty impressive.

The car’s seats are broadly comfortable but a touch hard; you can certainly tell that Dacia has elected to firm up their foam padding, and it might have done a better job in shaping the aforementioned for optimum comfort and support.

While the driver and front-seat passenger won’t have any complaints about space, those in the rear will find that knee and leg room is a little bit tighter than in some smallish crossovers. This isn’t just the case when sat behind someone fairly tall, either. Even with the front seats adjusted to suit an adult of average height, larger adult second-row passengers will likely find their knees brushing against the seats in front.

As for boot space, there’s 445 litres on offer, increasing to 1623 when the rear seats are folded flat. That is plenty by compact crossover class standards. The aperture itself is wide, and although there is a reasonably high lip to navigate, this is common among most compact crossovers too. Four-wheel-drive models make do with a 411-litre boot, which expands to 1614 litres with the back seats collapsed. But if you spent another £5000 on an equivalent Vauxhall Crossland X, you’d get less carrying space than in either Duster derivative.

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