The current generation Renault Duster has been around for quite a while and we have tested numerous examples over the past few years.
A recent, mild, facelift brought some changes in specification levels as well as giving the Duster the new naming regime from Renault. In the Duster's case the range is now limited to Zen and top spec Intens models. All are now powered by the very familiar and super economical 1.5l diesel with or without turbo.
The sole 4x4 version is in Zen spec and only with 6 speed manual whereas the test car was front-wheel driven and matched to the EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission. Personally, I find this combination smooth and easy in all conditions.
Certain words immediately come to mind when thinking of the Duster........rough, tough, spacious, value and super economical. Fuel consumption of 5.4l/100km for the test period is exceptional (even Lead-foot couldn't ruin the economy on this one).
The Duster range is slightly larger than many competitors in the price category and the squarish, boxy shape adds in space utilisation. Intens spec adds a number of comfort and safety features to the package. 17" alloy wheels, silver treatment for the front, skid plate and mirrors plus foglights on the exterior.
Touchscreen with navigation and full connectivity, reverse camera, auto air-conditioning and cruise control plus blind spot warning are the main additions to the interior. A neat feature is also the fitment of the new slimline headrests from the Clio on the front seats.
My standard gripe with the Renault range remains the audio controls on the stubby stalk hidden behind the steering wheel that I find extremely clumsy and outdated. There are a number of buttons on the multi-function steering wheel, why not simply add these?
On the road, the Duster is smooth and comfortable. The diesel delivers 80kW and 250Nm smoothly and will cruise at the speed limit all day long while sipping from the 50L fuel tank that never seems to get empty. You could easily achieve in excess of 900km on a tank. The diesel torque has enough in reserve for safe overtaking when needed as well.
With a price as tested of R389 900 including a 3 year/ 45 000km service plan, the Duster remains a compelling, even if ageing package.
Alan Rosenmeyer: MotorMatters: www.motormatters.co.za