Mk3 Dacia Duster to have a hybrid variant & three-row sibling [Update]

As per a report on French media Largus.fr, the next-gen Dacia Duster (codename: Dacia P1310) will go into production in 2024. The report says Marc Suss, Head of Dacia products, confirmed that the company would not take the usual eight-year cycle for introducing a successor; the second-gen Duster debuted in late 2017.

Design

The Dacia Duster is known for its simple yet powerful design with authentic SUV proportions. That’s one aspect it won’t deviate from in the future, but it would get sophisticated with the switch to the CMF-B. It is regarded that the Dacia Bigster Concept introduced in January is the design basis for the next-gen Duster.

Production Dacia Bigster front three quarters patent
The production-spec Dacia Bigster’s design (pictured) should influence the theme of the next-gen Dacia Duster. Image Source: Dacia/autofacil

In May 2021, Autofacil published patent images that apparently leaked the exterior design of the production Dacia Bigster. The patent images show subtle changes to the front bumper, bonnet, fenders, mirrors, quarter glass panels, and spoilers. However, the overall look is very close to that of the concept. The same month, cumulative production of the Dacia Duster in Mioveni, Romania, reached two million units. Dacia started making the Duster at this plant in the first generation in 2010 and should continue the production through the third generation.

Interior

The next-gen Duster should look further refined and contemporary on the inside. For example, it may feature a slimmer dashboard with an intricate texture similar to that of the third-gen Sandero models. Similarly, a floating touchscreen infotainment system will likely add to both style and practicality while generating extra storage bins in the centre console. An electric parking brake, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging pad, and connected car functions are among the other key features of the 2024 Dacia Duster we expect.

2021 Dacia Sandero Stepway interior dashboard
The Duster’s interior would be modernized, with a sleek design for the dashboard, centre console, air vents, and infotainment system. Expect some familiarity with the new Sandero (pictured). Image: Dacia

Despite the increase in cost to meet new regulations, expect Dacia to keep prices at 20 per cent lower than the rest of the market, positioned in the same segment.

Platform & Powertrain

The third generation 2024 Dacia Duster will be a significant leap for the nameplate, which in its current generation traces its roots to the B0 platform and some components derived from Renault’s inventory used in 1998. Like the new Sandero, the Duster will upgrade to the modern CMF-B platform, which will comply with European crash test norms, and allow for a Dacia Duster Hybrid variant.

As per an August 2021 report from French publication L’argus, the next-gen Dacia Duster is set to receive the same system that also powers the Clio and Captur (called the E-Tech). The new 1.8L engine, internally codenamed HR18 is an evolution of the current 1.6L engine.

According to the report, the 1.6L originally called for using the Atkinson cycle for engine power, however, this would reduce the engine’s output in favour of fuel efficiency, and the idea was scrapped. The increased displacement in the 1.8-litre HR18 is expected to allow the switch to the Atkinson cycle without the loss of power, the report said.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the Dacia Duster are set to arrive in 2024 and the bigger Bigster expected in 2025 will also make use of this powertrain. Denis Le Vot, EVP & CEO, Dacia, did tell L’Argus in January 2021 that the company’s “heaviest vehicles will also have a plug-in hybrid system.”

Dacia Duster EV unlikely

Renault Group may be on the EV offensive, but it’s not sure about going 100% electric. The company expects electrification to be slow for the Dacia budget brand. Gilles Le Borgne, EVP Engineering, Renault Group, said at the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021) that the European Union shouldn’t ban petrol and diesel cars – including partially electric models – from 2035, as per an Autocar report. 2040 is a more practical target, he argued.

Le Borgne said that Renault Group expects the share of EVs in Dacia’s sales to reach about 10% by 2030. This would mean fewer Dacia EV launches compared to Renault or Alpine this decade. As a result, a Dacia Duster EV may not be a part of the third generation Duster family.

On the Dacia Bigster

Alongside the next-gen Duster, Dacia plans to sell the production Bigster as a seven-seat SUV. Nothing is official at this point, but that’s the word from the European media, which say that it would be its second three-row model alongside the Dacia Jogger. The interior, engines, and platform would be more or less similar to both products.

Video Source: YouTube/DPCcars/Groupe Renault

Dacia said that the Bigster SUV measures 4.6 m long, which places it in the segment of the world’s best-selling SUVs. However, given the Dacia heritage of adhering to a strict cost sheet, the production model would be ‘accessible, at the cost of a vehicle from the segment below,’ the company mentioned at the Renaulution event in January.

Dacia promises a ‘very spacious’ interior in the Bigster with generous outside dimensions for a bigger road presence. The brand will focus on the ‘genuine-ness’ of the design: There are no chrome or imitation-aluminium trims, and raw recycled plastics are applied to the exterior protective panels.

Featured Image Source: Kleber Silva of KDesign AG