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Alpine Sleeping in the All-New Dacia Duster

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

If you like cars but like the outdoors life even more, then the all-new Dacia Duster might be for you. Why? Well, everything will be revealed in a moment. But first, let me explain a bit about the model, writes Tim Barnes-Clay.

Fundamentally, the Duster has become a standard-setter in its market and embodies everything the Dacia marque stands for: ‘Robust and Outdoor’, ‘Essential but Cool’, and ‘Eco-Smart’.

This iconic car, recipient of over 40 prestigious accolades, is not just a popular choice but a proven one. Its growing popularity and its position as Europe’s best-selling SUV across all retail market segments in 2022 are testaments to its quality and performance.

But what’s all the fuss about? I mean, it’s still only a car, right? Well, yes – and no. So, let’s get the vehicle bit out of the way. First of all, the fresh Duster features a stronger and more assertive design, reinvented by Dacia to push the striking looks of the previous generations even further.

With deliberate taut, self-confident lines and a stylish belt wrapping around it, 2024’s Duster is more hardy and ready for the outdoors than ever.

It is also impressive how the inside of the vehicle has all the essentials. The ergonomics of the design, from the large centre screen positioned perfectly in your field of view to the user-friendly controls, are bang on. The comfort and functionality of the steering wheel, with its flattened surfaces at the top and bottom, are also appreciated.

As driven here, the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine (badged TCe 130) with mild-hybrid technology provides ample power from the get-go. The standard front-wheel drive is recommended unless you plan to drive off-road, in which case a four-wheel drive version is available.

Mind you, I did go off-road – up the Alps – and two-wheel drive coped brilliantly. Well, I say off-road – a large chunk of the journey from Lyon to the French Alps was motorway – and even up to Lac de Saint-Guérin was hardly evil terrain.

Okay, we risked having a puncture on some craggier bits – but we got away with it. And the trim? I was in the Duster ‘Journey’. It comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic air conditioning, a hands-free keycard, an electric parking brake, a wireless smartphone charger, a Media Nav Live infotainment system with connected navigation, a six-speaker Arkamys 3D Sound System, and more.

But enough about all that – and on to what the Duster can add to your life.

What I mean by that is it’s not just a means of transport but a gateway to never-to-be-forgotten outdoor experiences. The all-new Dacia Duster’s relatively spacious interior makes it the perfect companion for adventure, offering the thrill of sleeping in the heart of nature.

But how is this truly possible in a Duster? With a ‘Sleep Pack’, that’s how! First introduced on the Jogger, it’s now available for the all-new Duster. Part of Dacia’s ‘InNature’ accessories, it’s a simple, removable, 3-in-1 box containing a double bed that folds out with a tray table and storage room. The ‘Sleep Pack’ measures 1.90 metres in length and is 1.30 metres wide.

So let me set the scene – Duster, Alps, and all.

I have always found something magical about gathering around a campfire. In the Alps, the crisp mountain air, the breathtaking scenery, and the warmth of the fire create a sense of pure tranquillity. Add to that the delicious aroma of a sizzling barbecue, surrounded by good food and good people exchanging stories, and you’re on to a winner.

As dusk fell and the majestic peaks of the French Alps were bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun, I couldn’t help but feel contentment.

It was truly remarkable to experience the thrill of camping without compromising on comfort in my Dacia Duster. Equipped with a snug sleeping bag, comfortable pillow, and warm blanket, it offered a unique blend of adventure and cosiness. Bespoke blackout blinds and the soothing sounds of nature, including the tinkling of bells from nearby cattle, created an idyllic setting for a restful night’s sleep.

Waking up to the pitter-patter of raindrops, I stepped out of my Dacia Duster into the fresh mountain air and absorbed the serenity of the Alps. Whether it was a leisurely but slightly soggy morning stroll or an exhilarating hike around an alpine lake the evening before, my Duster, complete with its ‘Sleep Pack,’ proved to be the ideal base for exploring this breathtaking region.

Unleashing my adventurous spirit with Dacia’s Duster was indeed an incredible experience, one that will stay locked away in my long-term memory. Considering the number of car launches I’ve been on, that’s saying something in itself – believe me!

So, hand on heart, the all-new Duster is a perfect vehicle for escaping the confines of urban life, embracing the freedom of the great outdoors and, vitally, enabling you to switch off, relax and truly live life.

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