4x4 drive: Getting dusty in the Renault Duster 1.5 dCi 4x4
JOHANNESBURG - You are not a hardcore off-road driver, you don't necessarily want to spend your weekend doing off-road trials or bending your chassis, but you would like to get to a couple of places that a normal two-wheel drive vehicle can't get to.
Also, you don't want to pay a ton of money and good fuel consumption is high on your list of priorities.
In that case, you'll do well to have a closer look at Renault's spunky B-segment SUV, the Duster.
There's a couple of front wheel drive options too if you prefer your driving on tar and well graded dirt roads but we recently had the opportunity to get it covered in dust and try out a few obstacles to get an idea of its capabilities.
On our way to De Wildt just outside Brits though we had a chance to do some tar and dirt road driving which is where most of its time will be spent.
The Duster 4x4 is powered by the enormously popular 1.5 dCi turbo diesel engine that delivers 80kW and 250Nm and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The gearing on the box is extremely short in the lower ratios, with first serving as a crawler gear for off-roading, and under normal driving conditions I pulled away in second gear without having to ride the clutch at all.
Gearing aside, the dCi engine is renowned for its frugal consumption and while Renault claims 4.8L/100km I've read reports of people getting less especially on long highway trips.
The raised driving position is comfortable and the cabin a pleasant place to spend time although there is a fair bit of hard plastic around which to be honest isn't a deal breaker especially coming in at R361 900.
Fitted with a touchscreen infotainment system, reverse camera, blind spot warning, park distance control and climate control you also get a fair whack of tech.
Safety is taken care of with six airbags, EBA, Electronic Stability Control and ABS.
Off-road the 210mm of ground clearance comes in handy as does the hill start assist, hill descent control and a 4x4 monitor on the screen that monitors pitch and roll angles as you drive through obstacles.
Gearing is easily changed via an easy accessible dial on the centre console with two wheel drive, auto and lock options.
Auto splits the drive between front and back while the lock setting locks the front and rear wheels allowing you to take on more difficult obstacles.
The obstacle course we tackled wasn't going to give a serious 4x4 much trouble but you wouldn't be able to do it with a two wheel drive SUV, even with decent clearance.
We first tried it with the selector on auto and the Duster managed to complete it without too much fuss with careful selection of our driving line while in the lock position it breezed through without a hitch despite the tyre pressure set for normal driving conditions.
With a 478 litre boot, comfortable seating and that frugal engine, the Renault Duster (in 4x4 guise) is the ideal vehicle to get you to places where you can see the sunset off the beaten track without having to break the bank.
The Duster comes with a three-year/45 000km service plan and a five-Year/ 150 000km Warranty.
RENAULT DUSTER PRICING
1.6 Expression 4x2 - R289 900
1.5 dCi TechRoad 4x2 - R327 900
1.5 dCi TechRoad EDC 4x2 - R361 900
1.5 dCi Dynamique 4x4 - R361 900
1.5 dCi Prestige EDC 4x2 - R374 900