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Renault launches rugged Duster in SA

16.09.2013

THE arrival of the new Renault Clio barely six months ago helped breathe some healthy sales into the French brand. However, Renault hasn’t stopped there and has now launched its top-selling vehicle globally in South Africa.

The Renault Duster is a hugely spacious SUV and we know the locals love their big cars, but what this brand has done right was keenly price the Duster in line with many C-segment sedan vehicles in the hope of trying to steal sales from the likes of the Ford Focus and even the Chevrolet Cruze.

We saw Renault’s strong price positioning with the Clio 4. Starting at under R160 000, it left many of its competitors scratching their heads. Now, Renault will surely do it again as it introduces the entry-level Duster for R194 900.

It’s certainly a competitive price for a competent vehicle. We got to drive it not only on some fantastic long, sweeping tar roads, but also got dusty as we headed down some less-than-savory dirt roads in the 4x4 derivative.

Admittedly, this car isn’t going to be a hardcore adventurer’s dream vehicle, but it is more capable than most SUVs off-road.

From a styling perspective, it has got a sense of ruggedness about it thanks to its wide wheel arches and aggressive ground clearance. Of course being rugged doesn’t always mean you are blessed with the most adoring face and front on the Duster does look slightly outdated and old, particularly when you look at how beautifully sculpted the rest of the Renault line-up is (excluding the Fluence).

As you move to the rear of the 4 320mm long vehicle, looks improve dramatically as the aggressiveness is embodied in the tail lights and bumper.

Moving inside the Duster, Renault has once again comprehensively specced it. Available in two guises, the base-level Expression has a CD/MP3 with Aux and USB ports, along with Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking sensors among a host of other creature comforts you would usually expect.

In the upper-grade Dynamique, you get an additional navigation system, operated via an 18cm touch screen.

On the outside, the Dynamique boasts a chrome touch to the door handles, roof bars, side sills and skid plates. Both models run on 16-inch alloy wheels.

The interior space is noticeable with a 475-litre boot, into which you can load just about anything. Made of hard plastics, the dashboard is built to last and seems basic.

The engines, on the other hand, aren’t. Two powertrains are available in the Duster: a 1.6-litre 16-valve petrol engine that produces 75kW and 145Nm of torque, which translates to a claimed fuel consumption of 7.5 litres/100km.

The 1.5 dCi turbo-diesel is the newcomer to the Renault stable and has 80kW of power and a handy 240Nm of torque. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, Renault claims 5.5 litres/100km in the 4x2 and an emissions rating of 143g/km, while the 4x4 will sip 5.3 litres/100km and just 137g/km of Co2.

The upper-trim Dynamique is offered with both engines, the latter being available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guises. The Expression model is only available with the 1.6-litre petrol.

Consistent with safety, the Duster houses ABS with EBD and Emergency Brake Assist along with front and passenger airbags. Despite the Duster’s long features list and loads of space, Renault could have a battle on its hands with the recent launch of the better-looking Ford EcoSport, which retails only for a few bucks more. Luckily this macho man knows how to get tough.

As is the case across Renault’s entire product range, the new Renault Duster comes standard with a 5-year/150 000km warranty. All Renault Duster variants will also come standard with a 3-year/45 000km service plan.

Pricing:

Expression 4x2 R194 900
Dynamique 4x2   R204 900
1.5 dCi Dynamique 4x2 R219 900

Article written by Stuart Moir
16.09.2013
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