All-new Renault Duster grows-up as macho off-roader
The first completely new Duster since 2017 provides a hint of the incoming flagship Bigster, but for the first time, won't be offered with a diesel engine.
Duster now resembles the Bigster that will become a reality in 2025. Image: Dacia
Rumoured for introduction by the end of November exactly one month ago, Renault-owned Dacia has officially removed the wraps from the all-new third generation Duster.
As a Renault and Dacia
On track to become the only Dacia-developed model to be sold under both marques depending on the market, the first new Duster since the soon-to-depart second generation bowed in 2017 conforms to a principle the Romanian brand calls “all the essentials, no artifices”.
Touted as still adhering to the traits of the original Duster that went on-sale 13 years ago, the second best-selling Dacia model after the Sandero also provides the effective preview of what to expect from the size-up Bigster due to enter production in 2025.
A key global model for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s budget brand with combined sales of 2.2-million units since arriving in 2010, the Duster draws heavily from the Bigster as, apart from the Dacia Link badge introduced earlier this year, the overall design is more blockier and aggressive than before.
The new face
Designed as still a compact SUV, the Duster not only features Dacia’s Y-shaped LED headlights that will be standard regardless of the badge, but chunkier wheel arch cladding and new alloy wheels, a tapering bonnet and a more prominent front skidplate no longer painted, plus rear door handles integrated into the C-pillar.
At the rear, the same unpainted skidplate, which like the front and wheel arch cladding is made from a 20% recycled material called Starkle, sits beneath a new bumper as part of a facia design also derived from the Bigster.
Seemingly inspired by past Skoda models as well, the Y-shaped LED light clusters have been redesigned slightly from the concept, although the Dacia lettering on the tailgate remains, along with a bigger font Duster badge at its base.
Underneath, the Duster continues to ride on the CMF-B platform, which has undergone a number of changes to accommodate electrification in the form of a hybrid as well as mild-hybrid powertrain.
Dimensionally, the new Duster remains largely unchanged from the second generation, but with an uptake in boot space from 414-litres to 472-litres with the rear seats up, and more ground clearance of 217 mm for four-wheel-drive models – a gain of seven millimetres.
More than likely as a result of the eventual wheel size, ground clearance for front-wheel-drive models drops by one millimetre to 209 mm.
Reserved for all-paw gripping models is a recalibrated Downhill Assist Control system, as well as an evolution of Dacia’s renamed 4×4 Terrain Control system resplendent with five modes; Eco, the default Auto, Snow, Mud/Sand and Off-Road that distributes power and torque evenly similar to the current Lock setting.
Inside, the Duster’s makeover has been equally dramatic. Said to have been made out of tougher, more premium as well as recycled materials Dacia claims has not driven prices up excessively, all models, bar the entry-level Essential, come standard with a new driver-angled 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Included on the Expression, off-road focused Extreme and flagship Journey trim levels positioned above the Essential is a seven-inch digital instrument cluster and, in the case of the latter pair, the integrated MediaNav Live satellite navigation with over-the-air updates.
Beside the more type-C USB ports and a new steering wheel across all four trim variants, standard spec varies and comprises, among others, a wireless smartphone charger, dual-zone climate control, a six-speaker Arkamys sound system, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Attention Alert and Lane Keep Assist.
In another Duster first, a series customisation accessories have been included, namely a number of clipping attachments called YouClip, a roof rack capable of transporting items up to 80 kg and what Dacia calls the Sleep Pack.
Essentially a removable box fitted inside the boot with the rear seats folded flat, the setup sleeps two people and also comes with an underneath storage compartment accessed via a removable front panel.
Au revoir diesel
On the motivation front, and as previously reported, the Duster takes place of the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel engine available since the original, in favour of three petrol options, one being the mentioned E-Tech hybrid used in the Clio and Captur.
Starting the range off, the TCe 130 combines a 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for a total of 130 Pferdestarke (PS) or 96 kW.
The supposed replacement for the oil-burner, the unit is paired to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, though buyers do have the option of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
An otherwise unspecified LPG option, the Eco-G 100, is next. Equipped with a 50-litre liquefied petrol gas tank in the boot, the system develops 100 PS or 74 kW as its name indicates, however, no other details regarding transmission or drive wheels was disclosed.
At the range’s summit, the E-Tech marries a normally aspirated 1.6-litre engine with a 1.2-kWh battery pack motor driving a pair of electric motors through a unique cluchless transmission called multi-mode.
While in practise a conventional four-speed automatic, the inclusion of the motors sees the ‘box becoming a six-speed unit with reversing duties being handled by the pair.
Called Hybrid 140, the final output is 107 kW and not the 103 kW as represented by the nomenclature’s indicated 140 PS.
South Africa looks set to get it
Set to enter production at Dacia’s Pitesti Plant early next year, Renault South Africa revealed the Duster to be under investigation for the final quarter of 2024, but in 4×4 guise only.
As such, expect a more detailed announcement to emerge throughout the course of next year.