Publication date: 26 April 2024
Dacia Duster

Dacia Duster

More value for the same money

Review - A Dacia offers a lot of value for money. This is partly due to its purpose-built design. This is because every Dacia is built for a specific purpose. For example, the Duster is a spacious, functional car that is meant to be a real workhorse. For the third generation, sleek design and even hybrid propulsion are added. Does the new Duster still offer as much value for money as before?

Because everything at Dacia is about low price, less priority was given to design until now. Moreover, Dacia had to develop its own model based on an existing platform from parent company Renault, and that presented limitations. The third generation of the Duster is built on the so-called "CMF-B" platform and that offers much more flexibility. That is why the Duster is now a sleek SUV. The "hidden" rear doors even give the Duster something of a premium model! At the same time, the look remains simple and modest, as befits Dacia.

Dacia Duster


Compared to the previous generation, and many competitors, the new Duster has the character of a true off-road vehicle. The seating is high and upright, with views over a large bonnet through a relatively low windscreen. The dashboard is angular and, despite (or thanks to?) 20% recycled plastic, feels as robust as the rest of the car. The Duster never goes for subtlety, but for big, solid surfaces. The cabin layout therefore enhances the sense of adventure.

Dacia Duster
Dacia Duster

Thanks to the use of the new platform, the new Duster is more spacious than its predecessor. This applies not only to head and legroom in the front and rear, but also to the interior storage compartments. Nevertheless, the Dacia is averagely roomy for a car of this size. What makes the Duster smarter than the mid-range are the "YouClip" accessories: there are mounting points in strategic places where trays, cup holders, torches and more can be attached as you choose.


As usual with Dacia, the equipment is complete with everything needed and nothing more than that. This new generation is equipped with all the safety features required by the European Union. Any carelessness is therefore immediately punished, even if it is not the driver's fault but that of the electronics (for example, because a road sign for an exit or parallel road is read). Pressing the button on the left under the steering wheel twice is enough to disable these meddling functions.

Dacia Duster

Depending on the chosen version, the Duster offers a cradle for a smartphone, a display on which output from a smartphone can be displayed (via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) or a full-fledged infotainment system. The display of this integrated audio, communication and navigation system is much simpler than similar systems from other brands. However, this is perceived as an advantage: the lack of ornamentation, animations or other niceties makes operation easier. The sound of the "Arkamys" audio system is civilised and therefore remains pleasant even on long drives.

Driving behaviour

In order to reduce CO2 emissions, Dacia has set itself the goal of making the new, larger and more luxurious Duster no heavier from the previous one. With all the new features and increased toughness, that was already a challenge. The Duster is intended as a true off-road vehicle, not a life-style car bought for a suggestion of adventure, and that made weight savings extra difficult.

Dacia Duster

Dacia managed to reduce weight, increase sturdiness (better handling, more safety) and improve sound insulation. However, it is noticeable that the Duster is a true off-road vehicle, even when opting for a two-wheel-drive version. Its tall build, long suspension travel and wheels with small rims and large tyres make for moderate stability. Thereby, despite the speed-dependent power steering, the steering is very light and lacks the necessary feeling with the mechanics. This is all far from dangerous, but the dynamics and confidence-inspiring feel that, for example, a Sandero offers (is on the same platform) is lakcing in the Duster.

On bad road surfaces, the Duster actually shines. This model was originally designed for the bad roads in its home country of Romania, which is why the Duster feels distinctly solid. Forest paths full of potholes and holes pose no problem even with a basic version. The brakes also deserve a compliment: they are biting and decisive.

Dacia Duster


This third generation of the Duster is the first to be available with full hybrid drive (not just "mild hybrid"). Under the bonnet are a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two (!) electric motors. During coasting and braking, kinetic energy is converted into electricity. Charging at a plug is therefore not necessary. However, when the battery is low, the revs can be temporarily increased automatically and then the engine yawns as if the driver forgets to shift gears. To transmit power from multiple motors to the front wheels, an automatic gearbox is a requirement, which is therefore standard.

Because this is a four-cylinder engine, the run is quieter than that of the standard three-cylinder. To make things even better, the electric motors assist when the petrol engine has to work hard. At low speeds, the drive is even all-electric, making the "Duster Hybrid 140" noticeably more comfortable, stronger and quieter than the other engine variants. On a route with mainly country roads, and thus a very low average speed, test consumption came to 3.9 litres per 100 km (81% eco score according to the on-board computer). This makes the Duster not only economical to buy, but more than ever to use.

Dacia Duster


Does the third generation of the Dacia Duster offer as much value for money as its predecessors? Even more! Because Dacia offers models with distinct characters (the spacious Jogger, the efficient Spring and sensible Sandero), the new Duster is more off-road than before. For those looking for a real workhorse, this is good news. Even with two-wheel drive, the Duster manages just fine off the beaten track. Those buying the Duster as a "life style" car are hereby warned, as this off-road ability comes at the expense of dynamics on public roads.

Thanks to the use of a completely new platform, the looks, interior space, sound insulation and electronics are all on a higher level. On all these points, the Duster can now compete even better with the competition, which is invariably more expensive. Thanks to the hybrid engine, the Duster has become stronger, quieter, smoother and more fuel-efficient. In short: the Duster has significantly more to offer than before and therefore offers even more value for the same money.

  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Also suitable for true off-road driving
  • Smooth, quiet and economical with hybrid engine
  • Steering too light
  • Lots of driving wind audible above 62 mph
  • Handling is a compromise between off-road and paved driving