So I asked Renault if I could take one of its Dusters across the border, you know, really test the little SUV. Renault obliged and sent over a four-wheel drive diesel variant. Here are nine reasons why I really enjoyed the car.
- It’s unpretentious- There is something about a Duster that I really enjoy, it isn’t trying to be something that it’s not. It’s an honest car; you know that you’re getting a well-specified car but also that you can’t expect it to be of the highest quality inside. The vehicle is also not very complicated in terms of technology which means that there is less to go wrong.
- It’s economical- The 1.5 litre diesel motor is so frugal that on my trip from Gauteng to Mozambique I only used 26 litres of fuel, 5.1 litres/100km which is incredible. Even when we mixed in some heavy off-roading the total figure was around 7.0 litres/100km for the whole trip.
- It is surprisingly capable- When in 4WD-lock mode the Duster was seriously impressive, I let the tyres down before we took on the very challenging soft sand of Mozambique. I am happy to report that the car didn’t get stuck once, nor did it ever feel as if it would. Sure, I felt it bottom-out a bit but overall it’s very impressive.
- It comes with a lot of kit- The model that I had on test comes with a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth/USB and AUX compatibility, cruise control, airconditioning, leather seats and electric mirrors. All of these creature comforts come in very handy on a long trip.
- The diesels are bulletproof- Renault has been using this engine in various states of tune for years. It has been refined and improved upon in addition to being very frugal these engines are known to be very reliable.
- It is surprisingly comfortable- It might not be the epitome of luxury and refinement however I didn’t ever feel tired in it after long drives, the suspension is soft and the seats forgiving. It makes for a very nice long-distance cruiser with a tall final gear while the short first and second gear comes in handy through the city.
- It’s cheap- Even after the recent price hike which took this model to R281 900 it still represents a great value within the segment. We have one of its rivals the Nissan Juke as long term vehicle at Autodealer and that simply cannot compete with the Duster in terms of sheer off-road ability however it must be said that the Japanese car is more refined.
- It is better-built- The pre-facelift Duster was a great product however it wasn’t the best in terms of outright quality. I remember driving the older model and think that it felt a bit on the cheap side however the updated model feels like it is put together better. This is very likely because the car is now produced in Romania and not India, like its Sandero sibling.
- It is spacious- The car managed to take four people down to Mozambique packed with luggage without any complaints from the passengers. Everyone was impressed with the little Duster; many seem to judge it before they have experienced it.