Renault Duster is still the endearing crossover
When the Duster was initially introduced locally, it wasn’t the most striking crossover in town, and thankfully, it had more to offer than its looks. Our initial encounter with the French car was five years ago through one of its first iterations, and aside from the aesthetics, it proved to be an honest and endearing vehicle. It’s now 2022 and we’ve been reacquainted - the Duster looking more mature and in its best shape yet.
Of course, one of the most noticeable changes in the latest generation Renault Duster is its appearance. Although Renault opted not to alter the original formula of a boxy look, they have made some significant design tweaks that add personality to its shape. The front and rear lamps are standouts, the latter more than the former. They now come standard with daytime running LED lamps, and those taillights are striking. For a more stylish appearance, its body has been sculptured with contours all around. Down below, there are newly designed 16 and 17-inch alloys available, and Renault says the Duster's 210mm ground clearance is class-leading.
The cabin doesn’t look the way we remember it all those years ago - it's better and more lively. It now features a redesigned dash that looks more modern and three aircon adjustment dials with in-built LCD screens. Above the dials sits a new infotainment screen, with a better finish and smartphone mirroring through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new chunky gear selector in the auto now replaces the old one.
What you’ll immediately notice as you hop into the driver’s seat is how comfortable the seating and driving position is. It’s in how the seat is positioned and designed in relation to the floor and pedals. The best way to describe it is it feels like you’re sitting in a very comfortable armchair. As a driver, you have the benefit of having a height-adjustable armrest. The only let-down was that with only 20 000km on the odo of our test unit, the armrest already had a permanent indent from all the elbows.
We’ve always been fond of the 1.5dCi turbodiesel engine in the Duster, it made a lasting impression during our first encounter with it all those years ago. What is it about this engine, you ask? It's adequate torque (250 Nm) and brilliant fuel economy. The 1.5dCi lives on in the latest Duster and hasn’t lost its spark. With prior experience of its frugality, we didn’t hold back this time. Most of our driving was with a heavy foot, enjoying that torque curve at every opportunity. In the end, we still managed a fuel consumption of 5.8 litres per 100km after a week. The claimed average consumption is 4.8 litres per 100km - easily attainable when driving considerately.
We appreciate that the Renault Duster is still an honest crossover with SUV styling and ground clearance, possibly one of the most common reasons people buy them. Although you shouldn't expect much rear legroom when opting for one of these - that’s the only area where it falls short. Boot space is ample, leaving you wishing they had traded a few centimetres of boot space for legroom. The second reason why people purchase this car is its price. It’s always been and still is well-priced, making for an enticing proposition for what you're getting.
How much is the Renault Duster?
Renault Duster 1.5dCi Zen auto R396 999
Renault Duster 1.5dCi Zen 4WD R396 999
Renault Duster 1.5dCi Intens R404 999
Words: Gugu Masuku