Renault breaks new ground in the motoring world every now and then. Think of the first Scenic, the Espace and the 4CV. The Duster may be just such a game-changer.
The Renault Duster is a go-anywhere station wagon. It will, comfortably, seat four adults with good rear leg room, a huge ‘boot’ and a roomy practical cabin.
The interior is well equipped, yet simple. Nothing overly fancy. It has air-conditioning, sound system, a parking system (except 4×4) and adjustable seats and steering wheel. It is somewhat noisy when driving at a higher speed and you can hear the clatter at idle on the diesel.
The 4×4 version is remarkably versatile. It has a very low first gear, almost acting as a low-range gear in difficult conditions and a very high sixth gear acting as an overdrive economy cruising gear. The 4×4 can be used on automatic AWD mode, or you can override it and select just front wheel drive or locked 4×4.
The Duster has more interior space than any other C-segment SUV and has a big 475 litre boot capacity. This vehicle can be used as both a delivery vehicle for small parcels and as a small utility vehicle for a tradesman when the seats are folded down.
The 80 kW 1.5 dCi turbo diesel will give you fuel consumption of around 5.5 litres per 100 km and pump out 240 Nm of torque from 1750 rpm. This means the Duster motors over sand and even dunes with ease. Its gravel road and jeep track performance is really very good.
On tar, the Duster will surprise with its minimal body roll and road holding. Safety kit includes ABS with emergency brake assist, ESP with traction control (on 4×4) and four airbags.
The Duster will be a practical choice for anybody who must work in or go to rural areas. It is economical, spacious, comfortable and remarkably capable both on- and off-road. I think the 4×2 versions will also be capable of going far off the beaten track.
The range starts with the 1.6 petrol 4×2 Expression at R194 900 which produces 75 kW and 145 Nm. The Dynamique is R204 000 and the dCi Dynamique is R219 000.
The differences between the two trim levels include alloy wheels, slightly different paint job and trim, full size spare wheel and touchscreen navigation.
Possible rivals or alternatives include the Ford EcoSport (no 4×4), Dihatsu Terios (smallish engine), Nissan Qashqai, VW Tiguan (expensive), SuzukiJimny (small) and the GWM H5.
The Duster as tested costs R239 000. I would pick the 1.5 dCi 4×4. It is a really good price and represents good value for money. Best value in its class too.It has a 5 year or 150 000 km mechanical warranty and the service plan is good for 3 years or 45 000 km and can be extended. Service intervals are 15 000 km and the rust guarantee is for 6 years.
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