this time, we tried it in the desert!

A brand new stylish logo on the nosesymbolized by the letters D and C joined together, all painted white, as well as a revised grille with paint touches in the same color. With the brand name now written in all – capital – letters on the tailgate, as well as in clean white, that’s all you need to remember for transform the latest evolution of Duster after restyling in September 2021.

Because yes The Romanian SUV begins the last straight line of its second generation, as it will be renewed in 2024. Unusual changes so close to the change of generation, but when Dacia decided to renew suddenly, in its entire range at once, its range signage and its coat of arms, Duster also had to go through . Also, after more than two million units were produced in two generations since its launch in 2010 (we have to add another 1.6 million sold under the Renault brand in other markets!), The successful SUV is technically unchanged. We only pay attention to the board a dashboard cover that leaves the round air vents for the new ones – they are new for us but exist in other markets – a steering wheel cushion that contains the new logo entirely, as well as two new equipment in high finishes: the electrically folding mirrors as well as automatic wipers.

See also: our photos of the next Dacia Duster 2024!

A desert test for the 4×4 variant

Because there is nothing new to check or measure – but we have to redo all the pictures of all the brand’s models for our image stock, thanks Dacia – the bias is to check in real conditions, in the sands of the Moroccan desert, if the 4×4 variant lives up to its claims despite the price making it one of the cheapest all-wheel drive SUVs on the market (from €23,450, December 2022 price). Must be fitted with the 1.5 Blue dCi 115 hp diesel engine, the only variant offered with all-wheel drive since the discontinuation of the 1.3 TCe 150 4×4, this Duster benefits from a generous torque of 260 Nm available from 1,750 rpm. Enough to easily erase its 1,470 kg (ie 110 kg more than the traction variant), especially since its box is shorter than this variant with all-wheel drive, which has a particular a very high gear ratio (almost 6 km/h at 1,000 rpm) to do without short range. In the purest spirit of Dacia, it is as much weight saved, and it allows you to climb the steepest slopes without worry.

If during this period the wadis are often dry, some allowed us to test motor skills in wet conditions.© Dacia

On the flip side of this coin, this ultra-short first report forces you to play more than reason with the control of this gearbox, which is a bit hung up. Up to the point in town, to leave Marrakech, we start on the 2nd, easily tolerated by diesel torque. Another consequence is that this very short gearing imposes a higher fuel consumption compared to the traction variant equipped with “normal” gearbox staging (8.2 km/h at 1,000 rpm in first gear, and a third equivalent to 4th of our 4×4 of the day. ). During our measurements at our Montlhéry base, we recorded an average of 6.3 l/100 km for the Duster with all-wheel drive, against just 5.5 l/100 for the two-wheel drive. Without forgetting a noticeable difference also on the acoustic side because the 1.5 turns faster at the corresponding speed.

Direction to the sand of the Agafay desert

But this aspect will not keep us long here, because we are branching off, after about fifteen kilometers, towards the dunes. As long as the terrain is not too bad, I don’t need to ride the four-wheel drive, through the original Nissan viscous coupling, a light, cheap and very reliable system. Because with its ground clearance of 21.5 cm, its all-season tires supplied as standard, and its comfortable angles of attack and departure (respectively 30° and 34° for connoisseurs) , this Duster is not afraid of hollow roads. The first wadis to cross – usually dry at this time where it’s still 24°c – you still have to slow down to approach any access steps to their bed.

Easy crossing

With long travel suspensions, 21 cm ground clearance, all-season tires and all-wheel drive, this Dacia Duster 1.5 Blue dCi 115 can handle the worst roads.
With long travel suspensions, 21 cm ground clearance, all-season tires and all-wheel drive, this Dacia Duster 1.5 Blue dCi 115 can handle the worst roads.© Dacia

But thanks with its progressive, long-travel and well-dampened suspensions, we only touched the sand once, and then only with the lower mud flaps, knowing that the sturdy aluminum ski protects the bottom of the shield and the engine. By diving deeper into the Agafay desert at the foot of the Atlas mountains, the landscape becomes lunar, alternating between rocky tracks and very dusty areas. Here, the Duster 4×4 is perfectly in its element. In this very busy area, the Romanian SUV moves efficiently, between 60 and 80 km/h, raising white feathers on its back, highlighted by the warm and eerie December light. A delight for the photographer…and for the retinas. Adhesion is limited, but in curves, a slightly sharp steering wheel easily puts it on course, with little rear axle drift controlled only by an effective ESP anti-skid without becoming a castrator.

Electronics provide

After a good ten kilometers at this pace, the track gets rougher. You need to slow down and drive more carefully, especially as I begin to approach the sand dunes near El Moukhtar, whose colors rotating between ocher and white evoke the Sahara. More noticeable relief and less grippy ground sometimes requires engagement of all-wheel drive to climb. But again everything is easy, ESP brakes the wheels that lack grip to transfer torque to those that retain it. The work of the electronics therefore makes a differential lock redundant here. I wouldn’t say that Duster in 4×4 auto mode (active up to 70 km/h) is 4×4 for dummies, but almost. because thanks to its reasonable weight and very short insole, it goes anywhere easily without requiring special skills from its driver.

Improvised barbecue lunch in the middle of the dunes

After a typical Berber barbecue-lunch in an improvised lounge-terrace, placed on top of a dune in a place called Roches Noires, it is the return to Marrakech in less rolling tracks, corrugated sheet style, where this Duster still shows excellent damping capabilities. You just have to avoid the appearance where the dashboard sounds, and that’s it so you don’t shake too much while riding. final difficulty, a double crossing of the bridge to approach another wadi, where again the electronics brake the tires in the air without stopping the engine. It was enough to cross the obstacle without any particular precautions other than a reduced speed, while the depth of the perforated parts made them difficult to cross on foot.

No doubt, if it’s not the Defender, this Duster that’s now been repainted with dust on its way back to Marrakech has proven to us that it’s capable of being a franchisor. it’s over. At this price, it is quite remarkable, and that well justifying its success, to individuals, mountaineers, or professionals working off-road. For our part, we were allowed to marvel at this beautiful desert, and share it with you in pictures.

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