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New 2024 Dacia Duster arrives – popular budget SUV enters its third generation

The all-new Duster is here, packing new tech in an updated, but still rugged, package

  • Choice of hybrid powertrains
  • New 10.1-inch infotainment display
  • 4x4 models bring new off-roading features

Since its introduction in 2010, the Duster has proven to be a best-seller for Dacia, popular with families shopping for a rugged SUV on a budget. Hoping to continue this success, the Romanian brand has now revealed the third-generation Duster, with new hybrid powertrains, a restyled exterior and the latest interior technology. Prices are expected to rise slightly compared to the current car and the first models should hit the UK in the middle of 2024. 

What’s changed on the outside?

The new Dacia Duster shares much of its external appearance with the Bigster concept car that Dacia unveiled earlier this year. It has a squarer, more chiselled look than the previous generation models, helping the Duster appear more of a grown-up SUV and less of a lifted hatchback. Its platform is shared with the Dacia Jogger and Sandero, as well as the latest Clio and Captur from sister brand Renault, resulting in a car that’s lower and wider than the outgoing model, but roughly the same length.

The rugged appearance is bolstered by new wheel-arch cladding, 7mm more ground clearance and a pair of chunkier bumpers. Above the front bumper is a new grille, flanked by a pair of slim, LED headlights, now with a Y-shaped daytime running light signature.

Moving around the Duster, the plastic trim featured on the front doors has grown in size and the rear door handles are now integrated into the window frames for a cleaner side-profile. The angular theme continues at the rear of the new Duster, the most notable change being the new pair of tail lights, complete with Y-shaped motif.

Anything new inside?

Dacia is known for its basic, no-frills interiors, but the new Duster appears to elevate things somewhat, with Y-shaped air vents that mimic the car’s head and tail lights, as well as an optional 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible) and ‘Duster’ script imprinted into the dashboard. Higher trim levels also bring a digital instrument cluster in place of conventional dials.

Importantly, there is more interior space for passengers front and back than in the old Duster, and the boot is bigger with a wider, taller opening. Adding to the Duster’s practicality is Dacia’s new ‘YouClip’ system – a series of clips placed around the cabin that can be used to mount different accessories, from tablet stands, to storage pouches and cupholders.

What different Duster models are there?

‘Essential’ is the most basic of the four trim options available with the new Duster. Dacia has a history of offering low-spec models at the base of its ranges to achieve low entry-level prices and this looks like another one. It comes with rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and cruise control, but only basic infotainment – Dacia provides a smartphone mount on the dashboard instead for navigation and other driving apps.

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The next step up is ‘Expression’, which includes the 7-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, as well as 17-inch alloys and a reversing camera. Top-spec ‘Journey’ and ‘Extreme’ models will share similar pricing, the latter focusing on rugged features with its washable interior, rubber floor mats and modular roof bar system. Both models feature automatic air-conditioning and built-in navigation, as well as wireless smartphone charging and power folding mirrors.

What engines are available?

For the first time, buyers have a choice of hybrid options in the Dacia Duster. The Hybrid 140 model utilises a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine alongside a 49bhp electric motor, for a total output of 138bhp. It will only be available with an automatic gearbox and its 1.2kWh battery will allow for short periods of pure-electric driving – Dacia quotes up to 80% of the time in cities.

Alternatively, buyers can choose the mild-hybrid TCe 130 model, which uses a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, helped by a much smaller 48V motor. While this system cannot be driven in pure-electric mode, the battery helps to reduce fuel consumption and provide some extra shove during acceleration. It can be optioned with either two or four-wheel drive and is available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

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Dacia has also announced the TCe 100 Bi-Fuel engine option which can be filled with regular petrol or LPG (liquid petroleum gas), making it one of the only new cars available with this flexibility. This system provides the Duster with an enormous 807-mile range, but it's unclear whether it will be available in the UK.

Any other features I should know about?

For the adventurous types who like to head off-road, there’s a new ‘4X4 Terrain Control Transmission’, that includes five driving modes designed to ensure the Duster can tackle various terrains: Auto, Snow, Mud/Sand, Off-Road and Eco. A new roof rack is also available and even a ‘Sleep Pack’ – a fold out bed that fits in the back of the Duster, perfect for those who fancy heading into the wilderness for the weekend.

Top 10 best hybrid family carsTop 10 best hybrid family cars 2024

Dacia is keen to point out that the wheel-arch cladding and underbody protection are made from a new material they’ve named ‘Starkle’ – a plastic finish that’s up to 20% recycled. These panels have a “mottled look” according to Dacia, and are left unpainted to add to the tough look and to help hide any scratches or dings.

How much will the new Duster cost?

Dacia is yet to announce UK pricing, but we expect the new Duster to cost slightly more than the current model’s starting price of £17,295 when it arrives here mid-next year.

What does it mean for Car buyers?

We’ve been big fans of the Dacia Duster for a long time, mainly because it has been just about the cheapest way to get a new SUV in the UK and, considering the low price, it was also surprisingly good. The new car seems set to stay true to the Duster’s value-for-money roots but the addition of new tech and hybrid engines will inevitably see the price creep up.

Dacia refers to this as the third generation Duster but that is to ignore an obscure 4x4 model that was sold as a Dacia Duster in the UK during the late 1980s and 1990s. Known as the ARO 10 in other markets, it predated the arrival of Renault technology that put Dacia on the path to budget brand stardom in this country. In Dacia’s eyes, the first Duster proper was the 2010 ‘Mk1’ car, and we’re happy to go along with that.   

If you can’t wait until next year for the new Duster, read our review of the current model…

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