I think they have a proper shot at succeeding. They are riding the global wave of success and counting on our nation’s love for SUV type vehicles to do the rest.
Let me get straight into what I don’t like, which is mostly subjective, and means many who might agree with me will be matched by those who think I should have my eyes tested. I don’t like the front end styling.
I honestly think front on the Duster looks a bit like an old Pajero or something. The current ‘face’ of Renault cars is just so much better and modern looking.
But for the rest I agree with those who say the styling is bold – thanks to its decent ground clearance (205mm in 4×2, 210mm in 4×4), wide wheel arches and chunky lines.
Renault is set to target current sedan owners who want to trade into the SUV life, and people who are considering buying two to three year old SUVs. And for this the Duster has enough room to accommodate the average family with seating for five.
Perhaps the option or fitment of a third row of seats would have made their proposition that must better. But in saying that you still get plenty of standard kit for only R194 900.
You get a fully equipped 1.6 Expression 4×2 that covers standard front fog lights, roof bars, body-coloured side mirrors and 16 inch wheels. Inside you get standard manual air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, remote central locking, electrically adjustable side mirrors, height adjustable steering wheel and driver seat, CD/MP 3/Radio 4x15W with satellite controls, jack and USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, onboard computer and rear parking sensors.
Consistent with Renault’s worldwide reputation for safety and security, the new Duster comes standard with ABS coupled with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), front driver and passenger airbag with the latter disconnectable in case of a child seat being placed in the front passenger seat.
The new Duster also offers as standard driver and passenger head/thorax side airbags as well as height adjustable front safety belts.
Spend a little more on the 1.6 Dynamique 4×2, at R204 900, the 1.5 dCi Dynamique 4×2, at R219 900, or the top of the range 1.5 dCi Dynamique 4×4 at R239 900 and you get even more. This comes in the form of 16 inch alloy wheels in tandem with a satin chrome finish on the outside door handles, roof bars, side sills, mirrors and skid plates on the outside and a black leather steering wheel and gear knob plus black gloss inserts in the dashboard.
An integrated and intuitive touchscreen navigation system comes as standard on Dynamique. Known as MEDIA NAV, coupled with Bluetooth connectivity, this multimedia system allows control of navigation, radio, media (portable music devices) and mobile phone (phone book and call history) directly via the 18cm touchscreen.
Driving the new Renault Duster is a simple choice of two engines – a 1.6 16v naturally aspirated petrol powerplant that produces 75 kW at 5 850 rpm, and 145 Nm of torque at 3 750 rpm while said to achieve a claimed fuel consumption of 7.5 litres/100km in the combined cycle.
The other is the 1.5 dCi turbodiesel we got to drive on the launch. It makes 80 kW of power and 240 Nm of torque at 1 750 rpm on the 4×2, and on the 4×4 the torque peaks slightly higher at 2 250 rpm and is said to sip diesel at a rate of 5.5 litres/100km for the 4×2 and 5.3 litres for the 4×4.
It is a pleasant enough engine but you do have to make a fair amount of use of the six speed manual gearbox if you want to get the best out of it and keep it on the boil.
The 4×4 is also equipped with ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and a high-performing 4WD control system, derived from Nissan, that adapts to all situations and enables you to choose between three modes. There is 2WD for roads with good grip conditions (power and torque distributed to front wheels only), AUTO for potentially slippery road surfaces (detection of spinning wheels and automatic distribution of power and torque to preserve traction) and LOCK for challenging off-road tracks (permanent distribution of power and torque to the four wheels).
We did a little off road course as part of our launch drive and the Duster did all that was required of it with no fuss or issue. So should you want to play a bit in the busht the Duster will be up to it, although I don’t see many of these SUVs doing more than climbing the odd suburban pavement.
There is a bunch of accessory options available to a new Duster owner with a choice of Styling, Touring, Adventurer and Protection Packs being available at local dealerships.
As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the Duster comes standard with a five-year/150 000km warranty. All new Renault Duster variants come standard with a three-year/45 000km service plan.
The Duster is a little rough around the edges but still offers plenty at the price and, all in all, this Renault makes a strong bid for your money and is well worth checking out if you are shopping in this league.