Dacia may not be a household name in America, but the Romanian company that was purchased by Renault in 1999 has undergone something of a renaissance in Europe and a number of developing nations. Much of that is down to the Duster, a low-cost compact four-wheel drive line launched in 2010. The nameplate will enter its third generation in Frankfurt with a bigger, more luxurious take on the formula.

For now, details about the Duster are limited to some information about its styling. The best word to describe it would be evolutionary, because the new Duster could easily be confused for the outgoing car from almost every angle. The new grille and headlights have been designed to give the new car a wider and stronger look on the road, while the satin-chrome-finish skid plate has been enlarged to emphasize its off-road cred.

Dacia says the higher belt line also makes the car look tougher and safer, while the windscreen has been moved forward for a more spacious cabin. The new roof rails flow on from the windscreen, and black trim running along the side of the car is designed to make buyers think this little high-riding hatchback is a rough-and-ready off-roader. Those 17-in wheels should help, too.

Down back, swollen rear haunches and a broad skid plate continue the theme of, you guessed it, making the car look tough. The rear lights are the biggest cosmetic change from the outgoing car and are designed to develop into a Dacia signature. Just don't tell Dacia that signature is the defining characteristic of the Jeep Renegade's rear end.

At the moment, Dacia isn't releasing any information about the powertrain for the new Duster. The current car is available as a two- and all-wheel drive, in both manual and automatic trim. It weighs in at just over 1,100 kg (2,425 lb) and has a 210 mm (8.3 in) ground clearance. With short overhangs and decent angles of attack, it's a capable off-roader without going all-out on a Land Rover Defender.

The new Duster will launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, where the completely redesigned interior, new equipment and new features of the vehicle will be revealed.

Source: Groupe Renault

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