While the second-generation Duster’s outward appearance is similar to that of its predecessor, Dacia insists that every single body panel on the SUV is new.

The styling changes that have been made seem relatively subtle and minor at first glance, but when you look closer and consider them together they do work to give the Duster an appearance that’s more sophisticated than before.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
There’s something really charming about the Duster’s no-frills, functionality-first identity within its sector. It’s a completely unaffected car — the antithesis of a Nissan Juke

At the front, the design of the headlight clusters has been overhauled, while the headlights themselves have been moved closer to the lateral extremities of the front end in order to emphasise the Duster’s width. There’s a new grille, while the base of the car’s windscreen has been brought forward by 100mm and the screen itself is now more steeply raked (or less upright) to give the impression that there’s more room in the cabin.

Round the back, new tail-lights – which could almost have been lifted straight off the back of a Jeep Renegade and rotated through 45deg – are the most noticeable change.

For now, two four-cylinder engines are offered: the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol found in our test vehicle and a 1.5-litre diesel. Both develop 113bhp at 5500rpm, while torque stands at 115lb ft at 4000rpm for the petrol, rising to a meatier 192lb ft at 1750rpm for the oil-burner. Four-wheel drive is currently available exclusively on petrol-powered Dusters, although ours was front driven. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on our two-wheel-drive petrol, while diesel and four-wheel-drive petrols use a six-speed ’box.

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Beneath the revised exterior sits Dacia’s ‘B0’ platform architecture – the same that underpinned the previous Duster and last-gen Sandero and Logan, as well as the Russian-market Lada XRAY and Lada Largus.

Suspension comprises uncomplicated and low-cost MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar at the front, while the hardware at the rear differs depending on the number of driven wheels. Two-wheel drive Dusters make do with a torsion beam (and have a larger boot as a result), while those with four-wheel drive use a multi-link arrangement.

Electric power steering is new for the second-generation Duster, while some effort has also gone into improving safety. Blind-spot warning is available for the first time, albeit only on top-spec Prestige models, while ABS, emergency brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control are standard across the range. Because this is practically the extent of the Duster’s active safety systems, its Euro NCAP rating isn’t great: a left-hand-drive variant scored just three stars in 2017.

Two-wheel-drive petrol Dusters are claimed to weigh 1179kg. Our test car (mid-spec, with optional spare wheel and a full tank of fuel) indicated 1286kg on the scales, with that mass being split 59:41 front to rear.

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