I really love value for money cars. The sense that for just once in your life, no one has tried to take advantage of one of your bigger decisions in life; your choice of vehicle. The Renault Duster, which has no pretentions, is a simple, see-what-you-get type vehicle. It not pretending to be something it’s not.
The 1.5 DCI, with its 80kw and 240nm, which is shared with the older generation Nissan Qashqai works very well in this vehicle, mainly because of the gearbox, which is totally different to that fitted to the Nissan. Gear spacing is very short for the 1st 4 gears and after that it sort of turns into a highway cruiser. It will happily sit at 120kph all day and will run on to about 170kph when going full steam ahead. The Duster we tested was also fitted with all-wheel drive, also seen on previous generations Xtrails and as you guessed it, Quasqai’s. Although they are the same, the Duster somehow it feels that this works a little better off road and this little mini SUV is nearly unstoppable due to its very good traction control system, which does exactly that. More often than not you have a vehicle sitting with its one wheel in the air and then it goes nowhere. This will brake the wheel that’s turning and send power to the wheel on the ground, effectively pushing or pulling you out of the situation.
All-wheel drive can be switched to front wheel drive, or to auto, which runs mainly in front and will push power to the rear when it needs it. For hairy and sticky situations, you have the “lock” option. Please don’t confuse the Duster with real 4×4, but it’s nearly as good and should follow most of them around with its higher than average 210mm ground clearance. 1st gear is also very low and makes crawling around a breeze.
The 215/65/16 tires are mated to the car via McPherson type struts with an Anti-roll bar. The rear is a multilink type setup. Gravel road performance is on par with much more expensive soft roaders out there today. The suspension is plush and handles the dirt with ease.
The interior is very functional, with hard scruff proof plastics, mostly everywhere. It’s more about function here and you get the feeling that everything was done with a purpose. This is outright a lifestyle vehicle and I think it should have a mountain bike permanently mounted to the roof and maybe a fishing rod or two, too.
The Dynamique model we tested here was fitted with a lovely touch screen unit, featuring navigation and Bluetooth hands free. It also features a USB/Ipod jack, but has no CD slot. Not that it would be a problem because I think there are very few people who still drive with CD’s in their cars.
The Duster is probably one of the better deals available in this segment today and it’s selling like hot cakes. They start from a very decently priced R204 900 for the 4×2 1.6 Petrol to a still very reasonable R255 900 for this top of the range model. Each Duster comes standard with a 3 year 45 000km Service plan and a 5 year 150 000km warranty.
For more info, Renault.co.za