RE­NAULT DOES RIGHT BY THE DUSTER

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - NEWS -

Wel­come to the all-new Re­nault Duster, which fol­lows in the foot­steps of a car that ba­si­cally re­vamped the French man­u­fac­turer’s image in South Africa.

We were big fans of the orig­i­nal car for two rea­sons: much like the Toy­ota Rush, the Duster was ex­actly what con­sumers needed at the time it was launched. The econ­omy was in the toi­let, fuel prices were sky­rock­et­ing and new car prices shot up­wards at an alarm­ing rate.

Along came Re­nault and in­tro­duced a spa­cious, ca­pa­ble SUV with loads of equip­ment at an ex­tremely rea­son­able price. Never be­fore has a car been so in tune with the times, which meant Re­nault sold thou­sands.

In ad­di­tion to all of this, it was more ca­pa­ble off-road than any all-wheel-drive SUV had the right to be. We even took the Duster 4WD all the way to the Namib desert to find out how far it would go be­fore we had to throw in the towel. Amaz­ingly, thanks to its low weight, it never got stuck, and there was only one large dune it couldn’t scale. Hon­estly, Re­nault could have kept on sell­ing the pre­vi­ous Duster for at least five more years and it would have been a rea­son­able pur­chase.

As you can prob­a­bly tell by now, the all-new model has a lot to live up to. If it weren’t for the all-new Jimny, the Duster could eas­ily be la­belled as the car that had the most to prove com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor.

STYLE-WISE

The style dif­fer­ences are easy to spot but it’s not like Re­nault started off with a com­pletely blank can­vas. The over­all shape of the car is fa­mil­iar, just a bit more el­e­gant.

It’s eas­i­est to spot the new model from the rear as it fea­tures funky square lights in­stead of the tall lights on the old one. In­clude a de­cent se­lec­tion of colours (in­clud­ing a rather cool or­ange) and you have a funky SUV.

IN­TE­RIOR

It takes no more than 100m to re­alise that the new Duster is a huge step for­ward on the in­side. The old car was al­ways slightly nois­ier than its main ri­vals and the plas­tics were just a lit­tle bit harder. Given the price, we made peace with these slight prob­lems and learnt to ac­cept them.

The hard plas­tic re­mains, but they look good. More im­por­tantly, it’s all nailed in place prop­erly. Even af­ter a day on some badly cor­ru­gated roads, our unit never de­vel­oped a rat­tle.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence is the over­all re­fine­ment. The seats are a bit plusher, the steer­ing wheel nicer and the var­i­ous but­tons and di­als cool to touch. Noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness lev­els have been re­duced sig­nif­i­cantly.

One of the Duster’s main sell­ing points has al­ways been its size. Com­pared to its ri­vals, it’s big­ger in ev­ery di­rec­tion, which mat­ters if you’re a fam­ily man. You’ll be pleased to hear it’s the same story with the new car. It’s still big enough for a fam­ily of four and their lug­gage.

Re­nault has been ex­tremely gen­er­ous with its stan­dard equip­ment. From the base model up, you get all of the usual safety and com­fort fea­tures, while the mid and high-spec mod­els are equipped with the nicer things in life. Re­nault’s touch­screen in­ter­face works beau­ti­fully and is equipped with nav­i­ga­tion as stan­dard.

WHAT ABOUT OFF-ROAD­ING?

Un­for­tu­nately, we’ll have to wait un­til early next year for the first 4×4 units to ar­rive but the 4×2 Pres­tige EDC au­to­matic mod­els we drove han­dled a dirt road rather nicely. In fact, if you don’t travel on rough roads that of­ten, it would prob­a­bly be a good idea to save your­self a few thou­sand and go the 4x2 route.

There are three en­gine op­tions. The petrol and diesel pow­er­trains are car­ried over from the pre­vi­ous model, which is a good thing. The 1.5-litre tur­bocharged four­cylin­der diesel is a lit­tle gem, pro­duc­ing 80kW and 250Nm of torque.

Re­nault is also in­clud­ing a new diesel lower in the range. It’s ba­si­cally the same 1.5-litre diesel, but tuned to pro­duce 66kW and 210Nm of torque. We reckon it’s a great move, as there wasn’t an in-be­tween model pre­vi­ously. You ei­ther had the en­try-level nat­u­rally as­pi­rated petrol, or the diesel. This new en­try-level ver­sion of the diesel (avail­able only as a 4×2) will likely be a big seller.

THE PRICE

As men­tioned at the be­gin­ning, the pre­vi­ous model sold well be­cause it was so in tune with the times. We’re happy to re­port that it’s the same story with the new car.

There’s a wider range of mod­els and all of them are af­ford­able. Whether you go for the en­try-level op­tion or the top-of-the-line 4×4 au­to­matic, there’s lit­tle else out there that of­fers as much space, com­fort and abil­ity as the Duster.

As is stan­dard across Re­nault’s en­tire prod­uct range, the new Re­nault Duster range comes with a five-year/ 150 000km me­chan­i­cal war­ranty and a six-year an­ti­cor­ro­sion war­ranty. Ser­vices take place at 15 000km in­ter­vals, and a stan­dard three-year/45 000km ser­vice plan ap­plies.

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