What do you want from a car? If it is all the mod cons and conveniences of modern day motoring such as climate control, automatic lights and wipers and a top of the range media system then there is little point in reading on.

But if your wishlist is more along the lines of space, practicality, reasonable comfort and performance backed up by value for money, then there may be something in the Dacia Duster for you.

Many will still not have heard of Dacia which hails from Romania. But the key information is that it is owned by Renault which effectively provides much of the running gear.

However, unlike the parent company, Dacias are pitched firmly at the budget end of the market.

Consider the Duster tested here. The base model comes in at under £10,000 which represents a fully-fledged SUV for Fiesta money.

Sound suspicious? Surely this must be a vehicle that is rough and ready and of dubious quality?

Not a bit of it.

The Renault influences are clear from the seats to some of the switchgear, while the diesel engine, although a little sluggish at first, is happy to cruise at the legal limit with little fuss and the handling is crisp and assured. It feels solid and there are no rattles and squeaks so typical of cheap vehicles in days gone by.

Outside, the car looks different to others in this class with its high ground clearance and distinctive front and rear ends which is no bad thing.

Inside, the seats are comfortable and supportive with thick cushions a la Renault, while the test car also came with steering wheel controls for the radio/CD/MP3 player and air conditioning.

There is plenty of room for a family and the boot can swallow large amounts of luggage without a major logistics exercise.

So what is the catch?

The good news is there are no major snags, although certain things become obvious fairly quickly.

For example, there is no flick wipe or speed regulator on the wipers. And while the back of the rear seats has a 60/40 split, the bench does not.

And when you flip the bench it reveals all the foam underneath which has not been covered. The dashboard is covered in uninspiring plastic and the stereo emits a cheap-looking orange glow.

But does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not.

Ten years ago we would not have complained and there are more than enough features including four-wheel drive if you want it to add value to the Dacia package.

And in the year since the Dacia range was launched in the UK it seems to have found a strong fanbase with more than 17,000 vehicles sold in the UK, the majority of them Dusters.

Ultimately there is much to be said for a car that is in no way old-fashioned, promises to be reliable and will prove to a workhorse capable of whatever a family will throw at it.

As the Dacia TV adverts say: “You do the maths.”

Dacia Duster Ambiance Laureate
dCi 110

Top speed: 104mph
0-62 mph: 12.5 seconds
Economy: 55.3mpg
CO2: 137g/km
Price: £11,995
Dealer: Hartwell, Oxford Motor Park, Kidlington