The Renault Duster isn’t a particularly interesting or exciting vehicle but – at least with an automatic box of cogs – it gets the unanimous approval of our team at NamWheels.
You should know: If this affordable rebadged Dacia can withstand the antics of European tourists on those torture devices we call “roads” near Sossusvlei, then it has to be a great product. There’s definitely an air of cheapness about its construction and materials but after I personally tortured one to Ai-Ais and back, I can attest to the Duster’s resilience.
More info: That model was the four-claw Zen 4WD, but this time Renault S.A. gave us this front-wheel drive Duster “Intens” Automatic, which trumps other models with fancy stuff like keyless access, sat-nav, blind spot warning, a surround camera, more driver’s seat adjustments and bigger wheels: 17 instead of 16-inch.
What else? That’s over-and-above the standard Duster kit of ABS, EBD, ESP, airbags, Bluetooth, climate control, cruise control, alloy wheels, a few power goodies and a rear-view camera with parking sensors. Crucial dimensions include 596L of luggage space, a 10.1m turning radius and a whopping 210mm of ground clearance!
Still, in the sensible way of every Duster, even these larger alloys are shod with 215/60 tyres; in this case Good-Year road-biased rubber. A 60-series profile tyre not only gives you a modicum of off-road ability (especially in sandy conditions) but also provides a bit of extra ride comfort. While not super soft, the Duster’s ride is commendably smooth.
Why you shouldn’t: If you want elegance or sophisticated style, this is not the car for you. Although we applaud Renault/Dacia for dressing the Duster with silver trim and cool white contrast stitching. Renault also doesn’t have the best dealer footprint (or service reputation) but we have it on good authority that the Duster is one of their stalwart vehicles.
The 80kW engine has rather leisurely performance but at least it counters with 250Nm of twisting power and five relatively well-spaced DCT gears. It’s far more relaxing to drive than the short-ratio’d manual! Then there’s the amazingly low (claimed average) fuel consumption of just 5.1L/100km from a 50L tank… although we don’t entirely trust its gauge.
Why you should: With a frugal engine and great soft-roading abilities, a decent level of kit and comfort, it’s no wonder that the well-priced Renault Duster has become a favourite of Fritz and Pierre-Jacques at the airport car hire counters. Each model is sold with a 5-year/150,000km warranty and 3-year/45,000km service plan.
FULL SPEC LIST
|Engine:||1,461cc in-line 4-cylinder turbo-diesel|
|Transmission:||5-speed DCT, FWD|
|Max. Power:||80kW @ 4,000rpm|
|Max. Torque:||250Nm @ 1,750rpm|
|Avg. cons.:||Claimed 5.1L/100km|
|0-100km/h:||11.9 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed:||169km/h (claimed)|