Autotest 25-04-2024 Test: Dacia Duster (2024) – SUV for the urban jungle The Dacia Duster has become more spacious, has more safety systems and is now also available as a hybrid…. 72

Still no-nonsense with a hybrid drivetrain?

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Dacia Duster (2024)

The completely new Dacia Duster is now also available with a hybrid drivetrain and the latest electronic assistance systems. And it is also more spacious on the inside. Is Dacia abandoning its no-nonsense character?

Has the new Dacia Duster become bigger?

The Dacia Duster has not or hardly become larger, but it has become more spacious. The Duster is now on the CMF-B LS platform and shares it with, for example, the Jogger. With this platform it appears possible to create a more spacious interior within the same external dimensions: centimeters have been added in both the front and the rear in all directions, little reason to complain. The extra headroom does not only seem to be due to a greater distance between the base plate and the roof: the seating position also seems to have been adjusted. We are relatively low, but certainly not uncomfortable. The handlebars can be adjusted in all directions. With slightly longer seats and a little more support it would even be complete. In addition to the interior space, the volume of the trunk has also grown, from 445 to 472 liters. At least with the front-wheel drive versions. However, with the four-wheel drive, the loading volume has decreased from 394 to 344 liters.

Dacia Duster (2024)

The luggage space has increased, except for the 4×4, where you have less luggage space.

What does the interior look like?

The design of the interior is sleek and businesslike. A nice design gimmick is the Y-shape in the ventilation grilles and the door trim, which is also reflected in the headlight and rear light units. This immediately seems to mention all the frivolity. The interior is mainly made of hard plastics that seem to last a long time. Functionality comes first. In the basic version you have an instrument cluster with a set of clearly readable analog meters. You have to rely on your own phone for navigation or radio, there is no multimedia screen. For such a large touchscreen you have to go with the three more luxurious versions, which come with a 10.1-inch touchscreen as standard, as well as a clear digital instrument cluster.

Dacia Duster (2024)

The basic version does not have a touchscreen: you navigate and listen to the radio via your phone.

What things stand out?

Of the currently mandatory electronic safety systems, we find the warning for exceeding the speed limit perhaps the most annoying. Where with other brands you sometimes have to scroll through seven menus of the infotainment system to turn off the warning signal, Dacia takes a more energetic approach. In the multimedia system you can indicate which warning you want to have disabled and you can then activate those settings every ride with a simple press of a physical button to the left of the steering wheel. A clever trick. Another clever feature is YouClip, a mounting system to which you can click a variety of accessories in various places in the car. Consider, for example, the telephone holder on the dashboard, a clip to fix the plastic bag of the Chinese takeaway to the center console, an extra cup holder for the rear passenger or an LED lamp (the latter is useful both as a flashlight and as a trunk light). In the Czech Republic they would consider it Simply Clever.

Dacia Duster (2024) interior

Like a LEGO set, you can click the YouClip parts together.

How does the hybrid powertrain work?

The most important news is under the hood; the Duster is now available with a hybrid drivetrain. That is the same technology that we now know from the Jogger and various Renaults and Nissans. It consists of a 1.6 liter petrol engine (94 hp) with a four-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor (46 hp) that works via a two-speed gearbox. Together they produce a maximum of 141 hp and 148 Nm, in practice enough to keep up with traffic. The drivetrain does not invite sporty driving, and the Duster is not the car for that at all. Driving away is always electric, nice and smooth, only when there is enough speed in the car does the four-cylinder get a chance. We do not always need the information screen to know which engine is working: every now and then the petrol engine clearly shows that it is revving quite a bit, as if we were suddenly driving in second gear on the highway. Influencing this appears not to be easy. There is no lever or paddle shifters to intervene in the gear selection. And the old automatic trick of briefly releasing the gas after which the gearbox automatically shifts up does not provide any solution. Without wanting to adjust the speed, we have little choice but to acquiesce.

Dacia Duster (2024)

Digital information is not always necessary, the petrol engine often clearly shows that it is working.

How does the new Duster drive?

The chassis of the Duster is quite flexible, which is a plus in off-road conditions. But irregularities in the paved road surface quickly cause the necessary movement in the carriage. Partly thanks to a slightly stiffer body and ditto stabilizer bars, the body leans only to a limited extent in bends. The suspension can handle the driving forces without any problems. Although the well-assisted steering is somewhat numb, the car remains perfectly stable following the route taken. And when necessary, the mandatory ADAS systems step in. The lane assistant ensures that you do not drive over the lines, which is something completely different from keeping the car neatly in the middle of the lane. But hey, everything is worth its money.

Dacia Duster (2024)

Partly thanks to a slightly stiffer body and ditto stabilizer bars, the body leans only to a limited extent in bends.

Can you really go off-road with the Duster?

To show what its new Duster is capable of, Dacia has invited us to take the car on an off-road course. On loose surfaces, the car goes up steep slopes without flinching, but above all also descends it in a very controlled manner. Nasty cuts and potholes with a rear wheel hanging loose in the air? Partly thanks to its generous ground clearance, the Duster does not test our confidence for a moment and four-wheel drive sometimes proves to be an advantage, but certainly not a must. Admittedly, there is no off-road gear and differential locks for real work, but as a forest ranger you should be able to track poachers a long way without any problems with this car. Just as hassle-free as if you, as a Vinex parent, bring your offspring safely through the urban jungle to the sports club.

Dacia Duster (2024)

On loose surfaces, the Dacia Duster climbs steep slopes without flinching, but above all descends it in a very controlled manner.

Is Dacia still a budget brand?

The basic version with its 100-hp LPG engine is listed for €25,590. That is €1,390 more than the previous generation, but for that money you get not only a sleeker appearance, but also a more spacious interior and more electronic assistance. If you want more, you have to dig deeper into your pockets. The hybrid version is only available from €31,340 and four-wheel drive costs at least €33,390. Then the Duster is suddenly less cheap. But on the other hand, we don’t know of any competitor that offers a comparable car for that amount of money with which you can leave the beaten track without any worries. Bottom line, the Duster is still the affordable no-nonsense SUV for forest rangers and urban jungle dwellers alike.

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