Dacia has lifted the wraps on the 2024 version of its big seller: the Duster.
And it’s a model which, I believe, many drivers secretly covet because of its affordability, understated nature and versatility.
Expect prices to start around £18,000 when the SUV arrives at Arnold Clark dealerships next summer. It’s worth highlighting that the Duster has been Europe’s bestselling SUV bought by private retail customers every year since 2018.
Clearly, the Duster has been at the core of Dacia’s success over the last 20 years or so: the company has sold more than 2.2 million Dusters worldwide. At the Duster plant in Romania, one rolls off the production line roughly every minute.
This new generation is set to lift the standards even higher, introducing new engines — including a hybrid — increased technology, and greater practicality. All that, while still remaining focused on value for money.
The new Duster is an impressive looking SUV. It’s clear it has been heavily influenced by the Bigster concept revealed in 2022. Built on a new platform — the same CMF-B platform which supports the Renault Clio and Captur, plus the Dacia Sandero and Jogger — it’s slightly wider and lower (1.81m and 1.66m respectively) than the model it replaces. Interestingly, it retains the same length at 4.34m.
The result is an SUV which now has an even stockier stance, and whose looks have been further enhanced by the addition of chunky wheel arches, plus robust bumpers back and front. The 2024 model also benefits from an extra 7mm ground clearance.
At the front, there’s a new look for the grille and headlights: note how the parallel lines across the grille flow into the daytime-running light signature. The rear door handles have now been hidden in the C pillar, plus, overall, there’s a new sleek look, a result of the roofline sloping down to the rear.
Pop round to the rear and you can’t miss the C-shaped rear lights. And when it comes to boot space, there’s another improvement: up from 442 litres in the previous two-wheel-drive Duster to 472 litres.
Dacia’s decision to move to the CMF-B platform will, according to the company, ‘reduce vibration and noise from the road, enhancing driver comfort’, plus ‘it provides a quantum leap in driving pleasure, with an unmatched connection to the road’.
For now, we’ll have to take Dacia bosses’ word for it — we won’t drive the new Duster till early next year.
While much of the 2024 Duster remains a mystery, we do know it will be available with a choice of four trim levels.
The entry-level Essential is followed by the Expression trim, with Journey and the slightly more offroad-focused Extreme sitting at the top of the range. The car’s software can also be updated over the air, meaning it doesn’t have to be taken to a dealer to download bug fixes and new functions.
Inside the Essential, there’s a 3.5-inch media screen on the dash, plus a smartphone holder — Dacia believes customers will use this more often than the screen — Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
Next up, the Expression adds a 10.1-inch screen and Dacia’s newly revised infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a reversing camera, a larger seven-inch driver’s display and 17-inch alloys.
But it’s the Journey and Extreme specs which are expected to be the biggest sellers in the UK. Dacia claims that high trim levels usually account for 70% of sales in the UK.
So, what do you get? Well, the Journey includes an electric parking brake, a wireless smartphone charger, an updated sound system, hands-free entry, automatic air conditioning and 18-inch alloys.
The outdoor-focused Extreme benefits from washable upholstery and rubber floor mats in the cabin and boot, plus electric folding door mirrors, sat nav and Copper Brown styling flourishes, both inside and out.
Intriguingly, the most novel interior feature in the Duster is probably a new option called ‘YouClip’.
Fitted as standard — with three clips or five, depending on the trim level — it allows the occupants to fix accessories like a cupholder, a bag hook, a tablet stand, an induction-charging phone holder and a portable torch, all of which will be sold through Dacia dealers.
As for engines, the 2024 model sees the introduction of hybrid and mild-hybrid powertrains alongside a pure-petrol engine. There is no diesel option. The current entry-level 88bhp three-cylinder turbo petrol has been removed from the new range.
Instead, the 2024 line-up starts with the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel, 99bhp four-cylinder engine, which can run on both petrol and LPG, having a 50-litre tank for each. According to official tests, fill both tanks and the Duster will do around 800 miles without stopping for fuel.
The mild-hybrid engine mates a 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple, a 48V electric motor and a 0.9kWh battery. It’s also the only one available with the four-wheel drive system, which functions similarly to the old Duster’s.
Using a simple rotary dial, select Auto and it operates in front-wheel drive most of the time, but diverts power to the rear axle when the front loses traction. One noticeable improvement is that the previous 4x4 Lock mode has been replaced by an off-road setting that actively distributes the torque between the front and rear axles.
Further new tech includes hill descent control, which can be activated in all gears and limits speed to a maximum of 18mph. Compared to the front-wheel-drive models, the 4x4 gains an extra 8mm in ground clearance, making a total of 217mm.
Yup. The headline-grabbing powerplant is the Hybrid 140. This pairs a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors – as also available in the Dacia Jogger — for a combined output of 138bhp. Cleverly, its 1.2kWh battery is topped up by regenerative braking and is said to ensure 80% of city driving can be completed on electricity alone.
So, it looks, certainly on paper, that Dacia has nailed the new Duster. We’re looking forward to driving it next year and giving you a full review.