When the Renault Duster originally came to South Africa I was really excited to drive it. I mean, its been in use over in Europe for a long time and it has been proven to stand up to all sorts of abuse. The original 1st generation model sold by the bucket loads to weekend warriors, adventurers and even retirees who just needed something robust and utilitarian to just do what they needed it to do, go nearly anywhere on any road South Africa has to offer.
Fast forward a few years on and not much has changed. The original car still looks the same, but it’s been updated with newer looking skid plates, a Medianav radio system with Bluetooth and GPS a much nicer looking steering wheel and then there is the EDC gearbox, which also does duty in the likes of the 1.5 DCI Kadjar.
The Duster to me will always be an honest, no frills no fuss type of car that will take just about anything you can throw at it and it will manage it with ease. On the road driving manners are predictable with a longer travel suspension which soaks up rough country roads and even some of the worse Gauteng pothole infested ones with ease. The 80 Kw 1.5DCI engine is obviously not earth-shatteringly quick, but with its adequate highway performance it does have one advantage and that is fuel economy. It’s very easy to attain numbers in the high 5l/100km if you are careful, but driving without a worry in and out of urban areas will see this settle around the 7l/100km and overall and 800km range give or take a few.
The interior is still aimed at one thing and that is being robust. The driver seat is 4 way adjustable to compensate for taller or shorter drivers. The Medianav system is an easy to operate system with a fairly basic GPS setup. The overall speakers are a little limited in volume if you like your music loud but should be sufficient for most people.
From a convenience side, you have electric windows all round, park assist in the rear with a rear camera, cruise control, speed limiter and your Medianav controls mounted on a chalk stick on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, as per most Renaults. It might sound and feel strange if you aren’t use to this sort of setup, but after a few days, I find that I actually prefer it there because it just feels ergonomically right.
There is just something about the Duster that feels right to me. It does not pretend to be anything special, it just does what its suppose to do, discover magical new places in South Africa and turn back and stare at the Duster in awe, wondering how this little car has so much personality.
For a detailed breakdown of specifications, pricing and warranty information, please go to Renault.co.za