New Renault Duster is still a great small SUV

Over two million sold since this vehicle was first introduced seven years ago.

I always marvel at how many bull celebrities can talk when interviewed during lifestyle programmes on television.
Whether singers, writers, clothes designers or actors, they often make their successes seem like a given, carefully not mentioning years of unrewarded struggle, many fruitless disappointments, plus multiple unsuccessful auditions and interviews.
They also generally omit the fact that blind luck, and being at the right place at the right time, often heralded their big break.
Fair enough, but here is the bit that gets my goat.
Always, always, the interviewer will ask: "What advice do you have for youngsters watching you right now, who wish to follow in your footsteps?"
Always, the celebrity answers: "Follow your dream, and most importantly, just be yourself."
This is problematic – 99.999% of would-be actors whose dream it is to emulate Johnny Depp will end up as unemployed waiters.
As for just being yourself – what if you are a scumbag and the ANC still does not want to employ you? All of which brings us to the new Renault Duster.
It is unapologetically itself as one of the world’s best small Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) and more than two million have been sold globally since its launch seven years ago.
It has just been revamped.
Renault’s press release mentions stuff like "distinctly assertive", "more expressive front and rear", "rugged stance" and "adventurer credentials".
We – unable to match such prose – are going to cop out and simply invite you to look at the photographs alongside.
We did notice the vehicle has ground clearance of 210mm, steep approach and departure angles, skid plates front and rear, plus 17- inch alloy wheels in 215/60R17 rubber ware – suggesting off-road capabilities, even in the test vehicle’s front-wheel-drive configuration.
The test vehicle came with a turbocharged, four-cylinder, eight-valve, 1 461cc diesel engine, that produces 80kW of power at 4 000rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1 750rpm.
It relays the grunt and twist to the front wheels via a six-speed EDC automatic gearbox. It will seat five adults, has a large boot, which can be increased via rear seat split folds, plus numerous stowage spaces.
Making life easier are keyless entry, blind-spot warning, automatic climate control, speed limiter and cruise control. A multiview camera allows for easy visibility of the rear and side terrain triggered by reverse gear, while rear-park distance control enables one to sneak the Duster into really tight spots.
Naturally, it boasts ABS and EBD, plus anti-lock brake assist, hill start assist and airbags front and rear.
On the move, the Duster proved reasonably sprightly during my regular commute between Alberton and Industria.
Renault claims a top speed of 169km/h and I have no reason to doubt them.
The brakes were efficient, the steering direct and nicely weighted, while spirited cornering would eventually evoke slight understeer.
The most impressive aspect was the fuel economy.
I believed the computer to be faulty when a trip between Alberton and the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria showed usage of 4.8l/100km.
Apparently not, since the overall fuel usage during the test panned out at just over 5.1l/100km. That would give the vehicle an impressive range on its 50-litre tank.
The Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Prestige EDC 4×2 is a highly efficient, economical and stylish package at an asking price of R334 900.
It comes with a five-year/ 150 000km mechanical warranty and a six-year anti-corrosion warranty. Services take place at 15 000km intervals, and a standard three-year/45 000km service plan applies.
  • Roomy, comfortable
  • Incredibly fuel-efficient
  • Not sure I like all the styling changes
  • Too nice to actually use offroad
  • A winner that should sell well

Book your Renault Duster test drive at your nearest Group 1 Renault dealership here.

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