Why so? Well, Renault created the Duster as a world car that needs to works in whatever terrain it might find itself in. The Duster comes with either a petrol or turbodiesel engine option, the latter being the model I recently found myself driving, in top spec Dynamique trim and with four-wheel drive.
It might not be the prettiest SUV around, but in all fairness, the Duster is about rugged simplicity and getting the job done, which it does thanks to a ground clearance of 210 mm and a decidedly chunky overall look.
Inside, it's basic but this somehow adds to its appeal. A touchscreen infotainment system with navigation Bluetooth and USB, electric windows and cruise control are some of the luxurious on offer, while the boot is on par with some pricier SUVs at 475-litres
The quality inside is also not breathtaking with hard plastics and material seats are on offer, however, they seem durable enough to handle everything from the daily commute, to venturing off-road and having man’s best friend along for the ride.
As for its on-tar capabilities, the Duster diesel comes powered by the widely used 1.5-litre oil burner also found in the Nissan NP200, that makes 80kW/240Nm. Hooked to a six-speed manual gearbox, the figures seem underwhelming, but factor in the Duster’s 1276 kg weight, and the engine makes for a sufficient turn of speed.
To sample the Duster in its entirety, I recently joined Renault South Africa and a number of my fellow scribes on a jaunt to Clarens in the Free State. Our drive from Johannesburg saw us taking the road less travelled, literally. We zig-zagged through back roads, on gravel tracks and through small towns seemingly from a bygone era.
Another part of our drive included a 4x4 route. I was expecting some bumpy gravel road, but as it turned out, it was more extreme. We quite literally drove up the side of a mountain. The road was incredibly narrow, frightening and littered with rocks. Steep inclines tested both the Duster and the drivers.
After about two-and-a-half hours, we reached our remote turn around spot. The Duster was able to get here thanks to its 4x4 system, which features a 50/50 lock system. The low down torque also helps assist the car’s capabilities.
After spending a lengthily time with the Duster, I fell in love. It offers fuss-free driving, it’s economical, comfortable, capable and offers all the convenience features one would expect from a modern car. It’s spacious and due to its robustness, it can handle our ever deteriorating roads, especially those found out in the middle of nowhere, with ease.
The Duster starts at R239 900 for the entry level petrol model and tops off at R304 900 for the model I drove. I’ll be honest, it’s a fantastic car. It’s tenacious, tough and will keep going no matter what. For the money, I doubt you can find a car more suited to South African conditions.