Production of Dacia Duster budget crossover is set to begin early next year but fans in the UK would have to wait for the confirmation that a right-hand drive would be available for them. Dacia would have to offer the car in right-hand drive before it could be considered for a UK launch.
In an interview with Autocar, a Renault source said that the Dacia brand "maybe" launched in the UK and when it does, only the Duster and the Sandero would be available since the company doesn't think there's a market in the UK for its Logan.
Buyers in Europe will have the choice of either a two or four-wheel drive, with either a 108bhp 1.6-liter 16V petrol engine or 84bhp and 104bhp 1.5-liter diesels. The Duster is a five-seater, which measures 4.31 meters long and 1.82 meters wide. Meanwhile, a Skoda Yeti is 4.2 meters long and 1.8 meters wide.
The Duster is a genuine off-roader as a four-wheel drive because of its 20cm ground clearance, 30 degree approach angle and 35 degree departure angle.
Three driving modes are available: (1) Auto, which switches torque according to grip; (2) Lock, which splits the torque 50:50; and (3) 4x2; which locks the car in front-wheel drive. Pricing for the model has yet to be revealed.
The 4x4 character of the new 2010 Dacia is unmistakeable. People seeing its front would be impressed by its imposing chrome grille and sump guard – elements that convey the ruggedness and toughness of a 4x4. People seeing its profile would immediately take notice of its wide wheel arches and high ground clearance, as well as its ample body protection – elements that indicate that this 4x4 is all ready to take on any terrain on the planet, including the harsh ones.
However, if there is one characteristic that the new Dacia Duster does not possess as an all-terrain 4x4 vehicle is bulkiness. After all, the new Dacia Duster is compact, as evidenced by its dimensions (4.31 in length and 1.82 meters in width). Nevertheless, this compactness has its own advantages. Its small size allows it to maneuver easily especially in urban areas, while still being capable of tackling tough off-road destinations.
It goes to show that the Dacia Duster is really an all-terrain vehicle. However, the Dacia will be available not only as a 4x4 but also as a 4x2 vehicle. This is ideal especially for drivers who don’t need the capability of a four-wheel-drive unit but want their vehicle to feature a high driving position as well as good ground clearance.
To further boost the capability of the new Dacia Duster as a 4x4 unit on off-road trips, it features a high ground clearance of more than 200 mm as well an approach angle of 30 degrees and departure angle of more than 35 degrees. Moreover, Dacia has also strengthened the Duster's undercarriage to make it more suitable to tackle dirt roads.
Another advantage of being compact is the added agility and handling. This is further boosted by the fact that the new Dacia Duster features a low unladen weight of 1,180kg for the 4x2 version and 1,280kg for the 4x4 variant. The 4x4 version features Nissan-sourced intuitive control located at the foot of the center console, which allows its drivers to select the transmission configuration appropriate for their driving needs. Three modes are available: Auto, Lock and 4x2.
The Auto mode results to the automatic calculation of the front/rear torque split as a function of available grip. When selected, Auto mode should be able provide optimal traction no matter how much grip is available, thereby triggering Dacia Duster’s 4x4 ability. During normal driving conditions, the torque is transmitted only through the front wheels. However, if traction is lost, or if a lot of grip is required, a portion of the available torque is transmitted to the rear axle.
During extreme conditions, the torque is transmitted equally to the front and rear axles, courtesy of an electromagnetic torque converter sourced from Nissan. Meanwhile, the Lock mode electronically transforms the Dacia Duster into a functional 4x4 vehicle, with 50 percent of torque always locked for transmission to the rear axle.
Lock mode is ideal when the driver is tackling low grip conditions – like snow, mud, dirt and sand -- at low speeds. On the other hand, the 4x2 mode locked the transmission into two-wheel drive, which is suitable when driving on good roads. Furthermore, this mode makes the Dacia Duster consume less fuel.