Renault Duster – A new look for a mid-priced favourite

What with the explosion of smallish SUVs like the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Opel Mokka you can hardly throw a rock these days without hitting a new SUV-styled vehicle.

However, many of these are mere pretenders to the throne. Do they offer what you really want in a SUV, ie, good ride height, lots of passenger and cargo space and actual off-road capability? If you can tick all of those boxes and add an affordable price tag, you’re on to a potential winner.

For these reasons the Renault Duster has proven to be a hit with the SA public, selling some 8,000 units since its launch in 2013. Renault would obviously like to keep that momentum going, so they’ve lost no time in revamping the unit and recently launched the facelifted version.

Now built in Romania, the new Duster is pretty striking, at a quick glance it looks much like a miniature Nissan Pathfinder. A lot of this can be put down to the chunky wheels and fixed roof rails, but Renault has also cleverly added lots of chrome to the grille and rear tailgate, some fresh new alloy wheels and black headlamp housings to give it a rugged yet sophisticated look.

This is where much of the alchemy lies. The modern SUV must appeal to both the male and female buyer. It must be rugged enough for the chap who yearns to get in touch with his wild side, yet slick and sexy enough for the lady who wants to haul the kids and attendant paraphernalia around town and feel comfortable and stylish doing so.

There’s also a couple of cool new colour choices, including blue and a very trendy olive drab.

Apart from that, other new features include:
•    Body coloured side-mirrors
•    Parking distance control (standard)
•    Patterned fabric replaces plain seat and door panel design.
•    7” touchscreen satnav (Dynamique variants only)
•    Cruise control is now standard

•    Leather trim and seat optional on all three derivatives

There has been no change to the engines, as before you can choose from either a 1.6 litre petrol engine rated at 75kW and 148Nm or a 1.5 dCi turbodiesel that is rated at 80kW/240Nm. The latter is no doubt the preferred option, given that it also offers very good fuel efficiency at a claimed 4,8 litres per 100kms.

Before you scoff at this number, which seems too good to be true, Renault proved that it’s not wishful thinking by hosting an economy run competition and getting teams of motoring journalists to compete. The route included both on and off road conditions as well as time checkpoints to ensure drivers kept up a good pace. The winners managed to achieve just over 5 litres per 100kms without incurring a single time penalty.

You can get the Duster in both 4X4 and 4X2 variations. The 4X2 variants are the more popular due to their competitive pricing but unfortunately they lack traction control, which is only available on the 4X4 versions. This feature is sorely missed as traction control helps a great deal when you take on a bit of the rough stuff, preventing slippage of the wheels. Without it, you are forced to proceed at a much reduced pace and there’s an increased chance of becoming bogged down.

If your budget permits then by all means opt for the 4X4 version and get the most out of the Duster’s potential. Prices are still very competitive, with the top of the range 4X4 Dynamique model going for only R269,900. However, when placed up against the entry level 4X2 - which retails for only R215,900 - that still looks like a lot of money. Still, a decent-sized, well-specced 4X4 for well under R300K is a rare thing in this day and age and its definitely worth taking one for a spin if you’re looking to replace the family wagon.


Duster 1.6 EXPRESSION 4x2 75kW petrol - R215 900

Duster 1.6 DYNAMIQUE 4x2 75kW petrol - R233 900

Duster 1.5 DCI DYNAMIQUE 4x2 80kW diesel - R254 900                                

Duster 1.5 DCI DYNAMIQUE 4x4 80kW diesel  - R269 900

Comes with a 3 year/45,000km service plan, a 5 year/150,000km mechanical warranty, and a 6 year anti-corrosion warranty.


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