Sales success of SUV from Renault’s value-for-money brand prompted firm to take evolutionary approach to redesign

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.

Our Verdict

Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster is a no-nonsense machine that wears its bargain price tag like a badge of honour. And we can’t help liking it for that.

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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. 

Dacia Day 2017: Autocar visits an owners' meet with a difference

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.” 

Renault 'surprised' other firms haven't copied Dacia business model

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!” 

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Renault 'surprised' other firms haven't copied Dacia business model

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Comments
33

30 August 2017

Difficult to see the basic, un-trinketed version in these official pics, but it's possibly lost the simplicity of the original. I loved the UN-white basic launch version - basic transportation with no pretensions. 

30 August 2017

Of all the reveals today - Bently, Porshce - this is the one that actually interests me the most. Either I'm getting old and cynical, or high-end vehicles aren't really progressing much between new infotainment screens and the like.

30 August 2017
m_bowl wrote:

Of all the reveals today - Bently, Porshce - this is the one that actually interests me the most. Either I'm getting old and cynical, or high-end vehicles aren't really progressing much between new infotainment screens and the like.

I agree with, although worth noting yhecreason the dimensions gave not changed is because this is just a facelift and not an all new car.  Whereas the Cayenne us all new but looks like a refresh only!

30 August 2017

For me, a facelift is a tinkering with the peripheral design elements of a car's design, like grilles, bumpers and light graphics, while leaving the sheetmetal largely alone. This new Duster might retain it's predecessor's platform, but it has an all-new body, complete with a windscreen that's been pushed 100mm further forward.

30 August 2017

These cars succeed these days because there's no such thing as a bad car anymore. Even a cheap SUV serves it's purpose well and cheap SUV's like this and the Vitara have a certain 2 fingers up in the air to Q2 and X3 type owners.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

30 August 2017

Good basic motoring that is proving poular where people are spending their own cash. Keep up the good work Renault.

Steam cars are due a revival.

30 August 2017

Just look at that ground clearance! Now that's a proper SUV.

30 August 2017
Guy08 wrote:

Just look at that ground clearance! Now that's a proper SUV.

Agree, and at a price your not going to cry over if it scrapes over a bit of rock unlike many of the 'best rated off-road' SUV's now in the 60K+ and then some range, where the only people taking them off road are journalists in demo cars they don't have to worry about damaging.

30 August 2017
Guy08 wrote:

Just look at that ground clearance! Now that's a proper SUV.

Agree, and not just the ground clearance. Look at the ramp and departure angles as well. You don't see that in SUVs designed exclusively for the roads.

30 August 2017

Actually looks bigger than the outgoing model , maybe it's just the shot. Something appealing about this no nonsense SUV  which is more purposeful than Mokas Jukes etc. Glad they have evolved the design as it's a good formula that seems to work. 

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