Duster gets a dual-clutch ‘box

The Star Early Edition - - NEW MODELS - DE­NIS DROPPA

RE­NAULT South Africa has in­tro­duced a com­pet­i­tively-priced Duster diesel au­to­matic, the first two-pedal de­riv­a­tive of the French com­pact SUV since the range was launched here back in 2013.

The EDC (Ef­fi­cient Dual Clutch) six-speed trans­mis­sion, al­ready avail­able in sev­eral other Re­nault ranges, makes its Duster de­but in a sin­gle model, the 1.5 DCi 4x2 Dy­namique tur­bod­iesel with out­puts of 80kW and 250Nm. Priced at R299 900, it’s 20 grand more ex­pen­sive but has 10Nm more torque than the six-speed man­ual ver­sion which will con­tinue to be sold. There won’t be a 4x4 ver­sion as re­port­edly only 5% of buy­ers in this seg­ment opt for all-wheel drive.

The price con­sid­er­ably un­der­cuts the only other diesel auto in the com­pact SUV class, Hyundai’s R374 900 Creta 1.6 CRDi Ex­ec­u­tive auto, but the Creta is more pow­er­ful at 94kW and 260Nm.

Avail­able only in high-spec Dy­namique trim, the Duster 1.5 DCi auto comes well specced for the sub-300k pric­etag with stan­dard fea­tures such as elec­tric win­dows, park­ing cam­era, cruise con­trol, and 18cm Me­di­aNav touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with nav­i­ga­tion. ABS brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol and dual front airbags com­prise the safety el­e­ment, while the roomy cabin is paired with an equally spa­cious 475 litre boot.

There was a time when small en­gines didn’t mix well with au­to­matic gear­boxes, which tended to fran­ti­cally hunt for gears in a bid to ex­tract some pace from lim­ited power. But the EDC and the Duster’s 1.5 tur­bod­iesel make a happy mar­riage, with a power de­liv­ery that’s as smooth as well-aged whisky and no sig­nif­i­cant lag off the mark. The dual-clutch trans­mis­sion feeds on the en­gine’s fairly hearty torque with­out fredquently need­ing to down­shift, but when brisk over­takes are called for the gearchanges are nice and slick.

It’s all clean and un­ob­tru­sive when left to fend for it­self, but you can bump the gear­lever for­ward or back to shift man­u­ally if you want to.

A fac­tory-claimed 4.8 litres per 100km makes the au­to­matic 1.5 DCi Duster one of the most eco­nom­i­cal SUVs in the mar­ket, al­though you can ex­pect it to drink a cou­ple of litres more in real-world driv­ing. Top speed’s quoted at 169km/h – the same as the sixspeed man­ual ver­sion - and it should sprint from 0-100km/h in 11.9 sec­onds, slightly quicker than the man­ual’s 12.2.

The new Duster 1.5 DCi Dy­namique 4x2 EDC will go on sale in the sec­ond week of Au­gust. It has a five-year/150 000km war­ranty and three-year/45 000km ser­vice plan, with 15 000km ser­vice in­ter­vals.

EDC makes a happy pair­ing with the 1.5 diesel.

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