This is Dacia's new Duster, on sale in the UK from £9995 next week
Not a single body panel is carried over from the current Duster
Deliveries start from July
Rear lights are now further apart and there are new roof rails
The new Dacia Duster goes on sale next week, priced from £9995 for the entry-level Access version — a price increase of £500 over the previous entry-level Duster.
As before, the car gets four trim levels: Access, Essential, Comfort and Prestige. Coming as standard across the range are LED daytime running lights, height-adjustable front headrests and seatbelts, a stop-start system and automatic emergency braking. Access gets steel wheels and wind-down rear windows, however.
Essential trim upgrades the steel wheels to a different design, along with painted bumpers, air-con, a DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity for £11,595, while Comfort, at £13,195, adds all-round electric windows, alloy wheels, electric adjustment for the mirrors, a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, a rear camera and parking sensors. Top-of-the-range Prestige (£14,395) adds diamond-cut alloy wheels, a multi-view camera, keyless entry, climate control, keyless entry and blindspot monitoring. This version is £680 more expensive than the entry-level Ford Fiesta.
Access trim is only available with the 113bhp and 115lb ft 1.6-litre SCe petrol engine with front-wheel drive; this achieves 43.5mpg and has CO2 emissions of 149g/km. All other trims can choose the petrol engine in two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (the latter with 40.7mpg and 158g/km CO2), or a 113bhp and 192lb ft diesel engine in two-wheel drive (which records 64.2mpg and 115g/km). There's no automatic transmission. The 0-62mph sprint takes between 10.5sec and 12.9sec, with four-wheel-drive versions being the slowest, while top speed is 105mph for all four-wheel-drive models, 107mph for two-wheel-drive petrols and 111mph for the diesels.
Diesel-engined and four-wheel-drive petrol models carry a £2000 premium over two-wheel-drive petrols. Meanwhile, each trim is priced £2000 above the trim below, except Prestige, which is £1000 more than Comfort. Metallic paint remains a £495 option, while leather upholstery costs £500.
About a third of Dacia's UK sales are Dusters, so it's a rather important model for the brand, particularly in the small SUV segment. About 80% of Dusters will be petrol-engined, with the two-wheel drive, petrol Prestige model expected to take the majority of sales. Front-wheel drive petrol cars in Comfort trim will be the next-most popular.
The new Duster was revealed in full at the Frankfurt motor show. Despite not a single panel being carried over from the previous car, the exterior is an evolutionary design; Laurens van den Acker, Dacia owner Groupe Renault's senior vice-president of corporate design, said this was down to the Duster's sales success.
The Duster’s cabin has been reworked substantially by Dacia to provide a more upmarket feel while ensuring that the car remains affordable and usable.
The dashboard has been redesigned, with the navigation system moved to the upper part. That system now includes an optional multi-view camera for the first time (standard on Prestige). Other new equipment options available on a Dacia for the first time include blindspot warning, automatic air conditioning and automatic headlights — all of which are standard on Prestige.
The latest Duster sits on the same platform as its predecessor and has identical overall dimensions, although the windscreen has been moved forward slightly to improve interior space.
The car now sports a broader front grille and wider headlights, while the rear lights have been moved to the corners. The square wheel arch style of the previous Duster has been retained, with new roof bars added.
Dacia has sold more than a million Dusters since 2010 and year-on-year sales continue to rise. Van den Acker said that influenced Groupe Renault’s thinking about the new model’s design.
“The big revolution is that we’re not doing a revolution,” he said. “The Duster’s not at the end of its life. We still can’t make enough to satisfy demand. So why change a good thing? But if you get close, you’ll see that everything has been touched.”
Dacia design boss David Durand said ensuring the Duster retained an unpretentious feel, reflecting value for money, was vital.
“The original brief was a white page, so we could explore everything — even if we did go back to familiar themes,” he said.
“When we are designing a Dacia, we always think about the customer. For example, if we put too many decorative chrome parts on, he will sit in it and say: ‘This has no usage. Why am I paying for that?’”
Dacia has yet to show the Duster’s new interior, but Durand said: “The car is a strategic evolution on the outside, but it’s more revolutionary inside.”
Q&A: LAURENS VAN DEN ACKER, RENAULT DESIGN BOSS
Why didn’t you increase the size of the Duster?
“The Duster has a bit of a magical size. We felt there was more worth to be created for our customers by fixing the design ‘mistakes’. If we decide we’ll need a bigger car, we’ll do it with something else.”
Did having Dacia help shape a design direction for Renault?
“Dacia helped us to push Renault in a more emotional direction. Renault has become more Latin, more emotional. Renault’s history is a little more humble than where we’ve pushed the brand to now, and I’m sure if we didn’t have Dacia, a part of the company would be saying: ‘Captur is great, but we used to have affordable cars. We need that as well.’”
Can you explain Dacia’s success?
“Dacia is a brand that established itself and maybe those are the strongest brands. The customers took ownership of it, really. Sometimes, we joke the less we manage the Dacia brand, the better it goes. If we start thinking about it, we might mess it up!”