The new and improved third generation Dacia Duster budget SUV has been unveiled – and it will still cost a relative snip to retain its title as the nation’s most affordable family motor.
The Romanian brand – now owned by France’s Renault – has also addressed the one big issue that’s faced the Duster in the past… its safety record.
An addition of new enhanced features should be enough to boost its rating in the EuroNCAP crash tests, which was the major gripe for car buyers when considering the previous-generation model.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new affordable SUV.
This is the third-generation Dacia Duster. While it might have all-new looks it also retains its position in the market as the nation’s most affordable family car. Here’s what we know about it
As millions of Britons grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, the good news is that the Duster will continue to represent value for money, with prices expected to start from around £17,300 (under €20,000) when order books open in Spring next year ahead of first deliveries from July.
Even the top of the range rufty-tufty 4X4 version is likely to cost from around £25,000 – meaning prices will change little from those of the current second-generation model.
The original first-generation Duster was launched in 2010 but it was the 2013 facelifted version which became the first model to achieve in the UK a decade ago.
The second-generation Duster was launched in 2017.
Over that time Duster has earned more than 40 awards with total production of 2.2 million and rising.
Around 1,000 Duster SUVs roll off the production lines at Dacia’s plant in Pitesti, Romania, every day – at the rate of about one every minute.
Duster was Europe’s best-selling SUV across all segments in the retail market in 2022.
Visually, the new third generation Duster promises a tougher and more assertive design including ‘honed proportions’ and ‘deliberately taut, self-confident lines’ says Dacia.
As millions of Britons grapple with the cost-of-living crisis, the good news is that the Duster will continue to represent value for money, with prices expected to start from around £17,300 (under €20,000) when order books open in Spring next year ahead of first deliveries from July
The Y-shaped signature of the front and rear lights echoes through the interior’s air vents, door trim, and other areas
Boxy wheel-arch guards, a large tailgate and long seamless side windows have given the Duster a more upmarket look
This includes sharp wheel-arch guards, a large tailgate and long seamless side windows. The Y-shaped signature of the front and rear lights echoes through the interior’s air vents, door trim, and other areas.
There are three trim levels starting with Essential and Expression.
After that customers can pick between two parallel top-level trims: Extreme for fans of the outdoors and intense driving; and Journey for those who prefer low-key elegance and comfort.
Interestingly, about 70 per cent of Duster customers opt for higher-end trims.
What’s under the bonnet?
The second-generation Duster was launched in 2017. Over that time Duster has earned more than 40 awards with total production of 2.2 million and rising. It means the new version has big wheels to fill
Powering the new Duster are three petrol engine variants: the Hybrid 140; the frugal three-cylinder TCe 130; and the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel.
The Hybrid 140, which is used in the seven-seater Jogger, comprises a 1.6-litre 94 horsepower four-cylinder petrol engine, two electric motors (a 49hp powerplant and a high-voltage starter generator) and an electric automatic gearbox.
A combination of regenerative braking, the 1.2 kWh (230V) battery’s high energy recovery capacity, and the gearbox’s efficiency mean the Duster can be driven in all-electric mode for up to 80 per cent of the time in cities. This reduces fuel consumption by an average 20 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in town. The engine always starts with electric power.
The TCe 130 is available for the first time in a Dacia and combines a three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 48V mild hybrid motor. It is available with a six-speed manual gearbox in the 4×2 and 4×4 versions.
Finally, the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel provides a dual fuel liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and petrol option. Dacia says that when running on LPG, the new Duster TCe 100 Bi-Fuel releases on average 10per cent less CO2 than a comparable petrol engine.
It can drive up to 800 miles with its two tanks holding 100 litres between them – 50 litres of petrol and 50 litres of LPG. A dashboard button switches the engine instantly and seamlessly from one fuel to the other.
Can it actually be taken off-road?
Powering the new Duster are three petrol engine variants: the Hybrid 140; the frugal three-cylinder TCe 130; and the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel
The all-wheel drive Duster 4X4 version has Terrain Control transmission with five driving settings: Auto, Snow, Mud/Sand, Off-Road and Eco
The new all-wheel drive Duster 4X4 version has Terrain Control transmission with five driving settings: Auto, Snow, Mud/Sand, Off-Road and Eco.
It enjoys ground clearance of 217 mm – claimed to be the highest on the market – plus downhill speed control.
A new all-road information system provides information on lateral tilt, uphill and downhill pitch, and power distribution.
Dacia puts safety first for the new Duster
The previous generation Dacia Duster only managed three stars out of a maximum five in the all-important EuroNCAP crash tests – the same as the first-generation model.
Although it scored well in occupant protection for driver and passengers in a physical crash, it was penalised heavily (some say unfairly) for its lack of more sophisticated safety kit such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane keeping assist.
The third generation Duster helps address this.
New driver assistance systems include automatic emergency braking (including detection of other cars, pedestrians, bicycles and motorbikes), traffic sign recognition and speeding alert, rear parking assist, emergency stop signal, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention alert, and emergency calls (eCalls).
Dacia bosses hope this will help ensure a much higher safety rating in the EuroNCAP tests.
However, the EuroNCAP crash evaluate regime has also become tougher. So, we will have to expect and see exactly how the new car fares. Dacia maintains their cars are safe, comply with all European safety regulations.
It said: ‘The All-New Dacia Duster opens the next chapter in a story that encapsulates everything the Dacia brand stands for.’
Next-gen Duster in a space race to be more practical and tach-laden
It’s practical and sustainable: Around 20% of the plastic in the new Duster is recycled – an 8 percentage point improvement over the previous generation
Dacia says the new Duster’s adaptable chassis platform creates more space with a wider cabin and more rear legroom.
It also reduces vibration and noise from the road to boost passenger comfort.
Duster has a lower boot with a wider opening wider that offers up to 6per cent extra space. That is up to 472 litres under the parcel tray in the two-wheel drive version.
In terms of tech, entry-level Essential trim has no built-in infotainment system but, instead, a ‘Media Control’ centred around the smartphone’s dashboard stand and using a free app.
From Expression trim and up, cars have a new infotainment system with a 10.1-inch centre touchscreen included as standard. In Expression this includes four speakers and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Journey and Extreme trims add a connected navigation system providing real-time traffic updates and a six-speaker Arkamys 3D Sound System.
Over the air software keeps the system updated.
A new seven-inch ‘customisable’ colour digital dashboard is standard with Expression trim and up. A wireless smartphone charger in the centre console is standard in all upper trim levels.
Cruise control is now standard on all versions, automatic dipped-beam headlights are available in all trims while automatic switching between main-beam and dipped-beam headlights is standard in Extreme and Journey models. Automatic dipped-beam headlights are available in all trim levels.
A ‘YouClip’ system holds accessories in the passenger compartment, including a tablet stand, storage pouch, smartphone stand with an induction charger, or a ‘3 in 1’ cupholder, bag hook and movable light.
David Durand, Dacia Design Director, said: ‘We wanted the exterior and interior design to be consistent. The taut and tough style inside makes you feel properly protected.’
A new seven-inch ‘customisable’ colour digital dashboard is standard with Expression trim and up. A wireless smartphone charger in the centre console is standard in all upper trim levels
The dashboard comprises of the infotainment screen and a split panel with the ‘DUSTER’ nameplate etched into it
From Expression trim and up, cars have a new infotainment system with a 10.1-inch centre touchscreen included as standard. In Expression this includes four speakers and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
It ticks the sustainability box too.
That’s because about 20 per cent of the plastic in the new Duster is recycled – an 8 percentage point improvement over the previous generation.
For environmental and ethical reasons there is no leather or decorative chrome. Dacia added: ‘Even the user manual is smaller, to use less paper.’
Body cladding, wheel-arch guards, skid plates and other parts are made of a sturdy trademarked material designed by Dacia called ‘Starkle’ (from 20 per cent reused polypropylene). It doesn’t necessitate painting as the plastic is already coloured when injected to make the part.
Dacia says: ‘Not using paint is both good for the environment and for customers, as scrapes and scratches won’t alter the original colour.’
In the top-end Extreme trim the heavy-duty cabin features special washable upholstery plus 20 per cent recycled rubber mats in the front, rear and boot.
New Duster to appeal to outdoor types with tight purse strings
The ‘sleep pack’ slots into the boot compartment – but don’t expect to take any rear-seat passengers at the same time
Accessories for those who admire the outdoor life include a bespoke ‘sleep pack’ – a simple, removable and affordable 3-in-1 box (measuring 1.90 metres long and up to 1.30 metres wide) – containing a double bed that folds out in less than two minutes, a tray table and storage space.
A new roof rack holds up to 80 kg and fastens onto the modular roof bars.
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