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Renault Duster Motoring Review

THE Renault Duster has been somewhat of a surprise success for the brand, locally, with the French marque selling over 8 000 units locally in its two years in South Africa. Now, Renault has released an updated Duster, which I had the opportunity to drive in an economy challenge recently.

It looks a bit different

Keen observers will note that the Duster has undergone a few changes to its exterior. There’s a new grille up front and the lights now receive a blacked-out look. At the side, you’ll notice new alloy wheels on the higher-spec models as well as chunkier roof bars with the Duster nomenclature visible. At the rear, Renault has done away with the large chrome Duster tailgate in favour of a more rugged-looking black item with silver Duster badging.

Interior changes

There’ve also been revisions on the inside, such as new seats embellished with the Duster logo as well as new door panel inserts. A new instrument cluster has been added, which appears more modern and more legible.  Overall, the revisions are significant enough to consider the Duster “face-lifted” while still allowing current Duster owners not to feel hard done by.

From Romania

The previous Duster was built in India however Renault SA has decided to source the new models from Romania meaning that local Sandero and Duster models come from the Pitesti factory. This means that Renault can bring the Duster in at a similar price to the old model while increasing the standard specification.

Features

The updated Duster models get a few new goodies across the model range; expect rear parking sensors and cruise control as standard while lower-spec models get steel 16-inch wheels and audio control mounted to the right of the steering wheel, airconditioning and front electric windows.

The Dynamique versions get the 7-inch Media Nav touch screen with sat nav/Bluetooth/AUX /USB, electric windows all-round and gloss black interior trim.  The range-topping 4x4 version gets three transmission modes and an Electronic Stability Programme. All Dynamique models also come with leather seats as an optional extra now too.

Engine range

The engine range remains unchanged with the same 75kW/148Nm 1.6 litre naturally aspirated petrol motor coupled with a five-speed manual gearbox doing duty in 4x2-only model with consumption figures of 7.6 litres/100km. The 80kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo diesel also remains with a six-speed manual transmission. The 4x2 model now achieves better Co2 and fuel consumption figures of 127 g/km and 4.8 litres/100km respectively.

The challenge

We embarked on a consumption challenge in the 4x2 diesel variant of the Duster across approximately 200km of tar and dirt roads. I am happy to report that my team mate and I achieved the claimed consumption figure of 4.8 litres/100km and finished second overall after a time gate penalty stripped us of victory.

Verdict

The updated Duster is a solid product, an honest, no frills type of car with highly competitive pricing versus the like of the Ford EcoSport and Nissan Juke. I would have liked to see ESP as a standard feature across the range for added safety on gravel roads as those looking to be more adventurous would need the 4x4 version to have ultimate peace of mind.

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