Us South Africans do love us an SUV and one of the favourites is the Renault Duster. Whether it’s the 4×4 derivative (launched a short while back) or the 4×2 we have here, it’s a vehicle that no doubt see to your needs.
The first-generation Duster wasn’t as well-kitted and build quality was a bit iffy, but it was affordable, had no unnecessary tricks and gimmicks, and it wasn’t afraid to take on a gravel road. The revisions brought onto that model didn’t address many of the issues and was it more of a nip and tuck.
But this model is the official second-generation Duster and Renault improved the SUV throughout. Nothing was left untouched and the vehicle is so much better. Over a period of a week we covered more than 3000km in the Duster 1.5 diesel 4×2 and was it a revelation of note getting to know this SUV better.
When it comes to new models one of the first things automakers address is a vehicle’s design. And it’s also the case with the Duster. At first glance it looks pretty much the same as the previous model, with little to no changes, but when you look closer you’ll quickly notice the differences.
One of the biggest changes is a new design for the lights. Both the front and rear units are new and do they provide the SUV with a fresh look. The rear lights have a cross in them and upfront the headlights now feature daytime-running LEDs. The bumpers, front and rear, have also been revised to keep the SUV fresh for its next phase.
Changes have brought on inside, too, and do the panels and built-quality look and feel much better. The instrument panel in front of the driver still relays the relevant information to the driver and Renault’s easy-to-use R-Link multimedia system with satellite navigation is added as standard. The seats in this top model is decked in leather, but it’s an optional extra available at R10 000.
The turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel engine, that’s also used in Mercedes-Benz and Nissan products, delivers 80kW and 250Nm; the latter already available at 1750rpm. It basically means that you have enough power in any gear to move forward.
The -100km/h time takes a leisurely 12 seconds (top speed is 169km/h), but it’s not an issue because you don’t buy the Duster to win sprints. A smooth six-speed automatic gearbox sends power to the front wheels.
Believe it or not, but at the end of our more than 3000km test the Duster 4×2’s average consumption was a mere 5.8 L/100km; which means that you can cover 860km when the 50L fuel tank is filled to the brim. No matter what, this engine is the Duster’s biggest asset.
Who I am
Renault knows that buyers turn to the Duster because it’s frill-free. You buy this vehicle to cater to your active lifestyle and don’t want to feel guilty when you trek over gravel roads. It’s one of those vehicles that has a clear purpose in the market and is not bothered with winning any beauty pageants.
In the period of a week the Duster was exposed to roads that included both tar and gravel. From Cape Town to Wupperthal deep in the Cedar Mountains, up the West Coast… the Duster never grew tired and driving it never tired the driver. Especially on the mountain roads, where dongas and hellish road conditions are the norm, the Duster excelled and proved its metal against the elements. And the ground clearance of 210mm sure did come in handy.
The Renault Duster is no doubt one of the most fun vehicles on the market. Yes, we know that a Renault does not have very good resale value and that build quality sometimes leaves much to be desired, but the Duster is what it is.
It’s an almost perfect leisure vehicle that can take you anywhere – just don’t go with the 4×2 where you’d go with the 4×4. It’s an ideal companion for your trip with family and friends and you don’t have to be too bothered with fuel consumption too much.
Since its launch in South Africa in 2013 the Duster has been nothing but a success for Renault and is there no reason why the revised Duster range, led by this 1.5 diesel Prestige, won’t continue that favouritism.
Price: R340 900