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by Tim Beissmann

Dacia, a division of Renault Group, has released the details of the Duster – a new mid-size car that it says is unashamedly rugged and capable off-road in a time when most SUVs are just showy city cruisers.

The Duster will initially be launched in emerging markets from the second quarter 2010 where Dacia believes it has found a niche.

“The middle classes aspire to owning a modern car that reflects their social status.

“At the same time, they want a strong car that is reliable, versatile and capable of standing up to climatic demands and conditions that can be both tough and varied,” it said in a statement.

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Sales will start in Turkey, Algeria and Morocco before spreading throughout Ukraine, the Middle East and parts of Africa from June.

In 2011 the Duster will expand to the Gulf States, Russia and Brazil, with the car to be badged as a Renault in some markets and production to be carried out in Romania and Moscow.

At just 4.31m long and 1.82m wide, the Duster has similar dimensions to the Renault Koleos but weighs close to 500kg less.

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It is far more off-road focused with a high ground clearance (more than 200mm) and good clearance angles (30 degrees approach, 35+ degrees departure).

An 82kW 1.6-litre petrol engine joins two diesel powerplants (one with 63kW, the other 78kW), with all three currently under the bonnets of other Renault Group cars.

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The 4×2 emits less than 140g/km CO2 while the 4×4 version is similarly impressive at just below 150g/km.

Front and side airbags are standard depending on the market and specification level, as are ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and emergency brake assist.




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