Dacia‘s Duster is a bit like Porsche’s 911. Their respective makers are so afraid of ruining their success and popularity that they never make radical changes to them, new features coming one by one. Once again, Dacia’s engineers were cautious to please the Duster fan club with this third generation upgrade.
The Duster’s third generation design is pretty close to the Duster II. It’s getting a gentle facelift with new front (Y-shaped daytime running lights) and rear lighting signatures, a new front grille with 3D shapes or new 16 and 17’’ alloys. Aerodynamics were refined in a wind tunnel and the Duster features a new longer rear spoiler that improves its drag. The AWD version emitting now up to 5.8gCO²/ km than before.
There is no revolution inside either, in keeping with Dacia’s way of doing things. This is something that fans have always appreciated. A new upholstery welcomes you while new headrests improve rear visibility. The high centre console has a sliding armrest and two multimedia systems (Media Display or Media Nav) are available with a new 8’’ touch screen. On the four-wheel drive version, a 4×4 Monitor keeps an eye on each side of the car. This is not a bird view system, which is too expensive, but four cameras can be activated according to the situation. The result is just the same, even though the driver has to activate things manually. You get about 80% of what a more advanced system does but it only costs half the price!
Let’s move on. The TCE 150 EDC version features a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the gear changes being operated by electric actuators. This makes for a smooth and rather relaxing drive, knowing that you can always count on the 4-cylinder 1.3 engine, its 150 horsepower and 250 Nm torque available from 1700 rpm. Once inside, the atmosphere is quite pleasant with a perfect driving position and supportive enough seats that don’t overdo things. Power steering got a rework and is now firmer from 70 km/h onwards, delivering a better feedback to the driver. In short, the Duster is the perfect companion for everyday journeys and taking a motorway is not a problem either. This 2WD version is priced at €21,790 in Prestige trim. The cheapest version is the TCe90 Access. It’s powered by a 3-cylinder 90bhp 1000cc engine. The Blue dCi 115 in Essential trim retails at €16,690.
During our brief discovery of the new range, we were also able to take the wheel of the unique ECO-G 100, a dual fuel petrol and LPG version of the 3 cylinder 1.0 engine. Playing wisely between the use of LPG and petrol, its maximum range is more than 1200 km. In this case, only the 6-speed manual gearbox is available but the car was quite a pleasant drive. With its two 50-litre tanks, LPG capacity is increased by 16.2 litres compared to its predecessor and allowing 250 km more range. Switching from one fuel to the other is a totally smooth process ; Reading the dashboard gauge being the only tell-tale of which fuel is being used. It’s easy to use, pleasant to drive and emits less CO2 while offering a more than adequate range. A real smart choice that costs €16,490 in Comfort trim and that surely deserves a bigger success on the Belgian market : the former version accounted for just 10% of the total Duster sales.
The day ended with a short off-road trail where the 4WD qualities shone again and made it easy to understand why forestry services, fire departments or simple adventure-minded people love the economical Duster so much. It will tackle any slope easily thanks to its 21° breakover angle, its 30° approach angle and its 33° departure angle. Its 214mm ground clearance is a real asset and the 4×4 Monitor allows you to monitor side inclination and pitch angle while the altimeter and compass complete the information.
The recent restyling and gentle upgrading process ensure the Dacia Duster is back on track for another four years of uninterrupted success. It is perfectly in tune with our times. Reluctant prospects will get reassurance in its rugged robustness, its ability to face any situation, its unchanged and friendly pricing as well as its overall design that ages so well. That is far from being the case of many of its competitors!