REVIEW: Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Intens EDC 4x2
Pretoria: You forget how popular the Renault Duster is. That is until you’re in one and you seem to notice them more often. And it makes sense with more than 23 000 units sold locally since 2013 and two million globally.
A friend recently advised his in-laws to purchase one based on the flawless service his parents have received from theirs. I suspect there may be many more such stories.
It’s a very good package overall and despite one or two French quirks, like the cruise control and speed limiter button placed in the centre console, the SUV has a lot going for it.
Most notably fuel consumption. Recently, much has been said about EVs, especially hybrid vehicles, but what hasn’t been raised is the efficiency of small diesel engines.
The EU would rather have their fingernails pulled than see more diesel cars on the road but, after a week of city and highway driving, the 1.5 dCi Intens EDC 4x2 that we had on test returned figures of 5.2 l/100km. With mostly highway trips, I reckon the claimed 4.8 l/100km would be fairly easy to reach.
The 1.5 dCi mill under the bonnet puts out 80kW and 250Nm, powering the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. You’re not going to win any races but there’s enough zip to keep you going comfortably at the national speed limit and pressing the accelerator to pass slower traffic is easily done with an effortless downchange.
Renault has done a bit of an interior and exterior nip and tuck to keep it fresh. While it’s never going to win best looking in class, it has a lot more going for it than just that.
It has a slightly wider rear with a more prominent rear spoiler, updated C-shaped front and LED rear light signature with new 17-inch Diamond Cut alloys that make a significant improvement to its overall look.
The biggest change to the interior is the new semi-flush eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system that includes on-board navigation. It’s a big improvement, with decent graphics and resolution and provides wireless smartphone replication mirror compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I needed to cart around some gardening equipment, including a lawnmower and a portable generator, while we had it and, with 478 litres of boot space and a rear bench with a ⅓-⅔ split-fold function, everything ,including my son’s schoolbag and art project, fitted and there was room to spare.
As I said, you’re not going to win robot to robot sprints with the Duster but you will be comfortable touring and even doing the odd dirt road.
It has an approach angle of 30 degrees and departure angle of 34 degrees, with class-leading ground clearance of 210mm that, should you have the 4x4 version, will get you to some difficult-to-reach places.
Our 4x2 tackled the dirt road to a friend’s farm and, with the recent rains and washed-away roads, it was a lot more comfortable than it would have been with a regular car.
There’s enough space at the back for two tall teenagers to be comfortable without compromising the driver or passenger’s comfort and, with an armrest for the driver, long road trips should be extra comfortable.
Steering is light, which makes parking in tight spaces easy, especially on a Saturday morning when the whole world seems to congregate at Builders Warehouse.
There’s no fancy hi-tech in the Renault Duster. If it’s dark, switch on your own lights and when it rains, wipers are your responsibility and the manufacturer expects you to keep between the white lines by yourself. It’s really driving as it was originally meant to be.
That doesn’t mean it’s not safe. ABS and EBD, in conjunction with EBA and hill start assist, are standard across the range.
The updated Renault Duster builds on a successful platform that provides no-nonsense and uncluttered driving at a reasonable price with very decent space and spec. With the spectre of an ever-increasing fuel price looming, putting it on your list to look at when the time comes is a no-brainer.
The Renault Duster comes with a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, a three year/45 000km service plan and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
Renault Duster Pricing
1.5 dCi Zen 4x2 R342 900
1.5 dCi Zen EDC 4x2 R381 900
1.5 dCi Zen 4x4 R381 900
1.5 dCi Intens EDC 4x2 R389 900