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All-rounder Renault Duster’s economy its biggest plus

Renault calls its Duster robust. Sharp and modern; bold and assertive. You’ll know what it is when you see it. This is the flagship Intens. Tell it apart by the silver bumper element behind the number plate under its shiny grille, big 17” alloys, roof bars, skid plates and modern taillights. Even if they seem to have been lifted from a Jeep parts bin.

Step inside and while it’s a bit Spartan and plasticky, its pleasingly specced. It has all the important bits folk expect from a family car in the is neck of the woods. Duster is also well-equipped and build quality is good enough too. Enveloping seats, easy stowage, improved controls, and decent infotainment and multimedia make sure of that.

Duster has all the bells & whistles inside

The infotainment strikes a fair balance between touchscreen and knobs and buttons. How we prefer it. Add keyless entry with stop start, blind spot warning, rear park distance control, automatic climate control, and speed limiter cruise control. All reasonably well cobbled together too. Impressive at the price. 

Its spacious and comfortable inside, the dash looks the part with bold dials, a decent sized infotainment screen and five chrome ringed air vents across the fascia. It has comfy cloth seats and a functional steering wheel, and a 478 litre boot too. Most of what you’d expect from a competitor int his busy neck of the woods.

Duster gets the job done on the road

Being front wheel drive you can’t really call it an SUV. But if its AWD practicality you need, that model costs the same, albeit that it lacks some of the shiny bits. Our 66 kW 210 Nm 5.1l/100km 1.5dCi Intens drives the front axle through an automated double-clutch ‘box. On the road, it’s by no means the quickest ute on the block. But it gets the job done.

Our almost 11-seconds zero to 100 still fits the bill for a little one-point-five turbodiesel hauling a more than spacious family SUV along. A second better than claimed, too. Ride is good, it handles and holds the road well and we found Duster capable on the soft dirt we took it to. It should take you to some very interesting places, it you’re so inclined. 

Fuel economy is the real trump card

This Duster’s fuel economy is however the real clincher. It quite literally runs on the sniff of an oily rag. We did a fair but of running around and became concerned that the fuel gauge was broken. Seemed stuck on full. Only much later in the week did it bother dropping a bar.  Yes, you’d better believe that 5.2-litre per hundred claim! What’s the diesel price again?

Which leads us to conclude that the Renault Duster is quite the car for its times. Tough times when fuel is expensive and power but a privilege. In that context, this car is a winner. Not just that, but it also packs a good warranty, an adequate service plan and truly amazing family car fuel economy.

No harm downsizing to Duster

A good quality, and user-friendly option, the Renault Duster’s biggest challenge is that it operates in a ruthlessly competitive niche. But it does the job just as well as anything else with all those bells and whistles and at a reasonable price. And of course, on the sniff of an oil rag. Downsizing to Duster may not be such a big deal after all. — Michele Lupini

Testing & images – Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Renault Duster 1.5dCi Intens
Engine: 80 kW 250 Nm 1.5-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 6-speed double-clutch auto FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.76 sec
0-100 km/h:       10.96 sec               
0-160 km/h:       30.26 sec
400m:             17.6 sec @ 125 km/h
80-120 km/h:      8.35 sec
VMax:             170 km/h
Fuel:             4.8 l/100km 
CO2               126 g/km
Range:            1,050 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 150K/3y 45Kkm 
LIST PRICE:       R435K           
RATED:            7
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