REVIEW | 2019 Renault Duster remains an honest package
Every now and then a vehicle arrives on our road-test schedule that makes us sit up and re-evaluate our initial perception of it. The Renault Duster is a case in point.
First introduced to the SA market in 2013, it has become something of a success for the brand, with more than 15,000 units finding a home in the country, partially helped by offering the consumer substantial bang-for-buck and tapping into the upswing towards SUV-style motoring.
But the early Duster was beginning to look dated, particularly when compared to more modern-looking offerings like the Hyundai Creta and Ford EcoSport. The interior and some of the technology employed was also being overtaken by competitors. A makeover was in order, and that is exactly what happened towards the end of last year.
In a segment where styling plays an important role, the Duster today takes a back seat to no-one. In tune with the theme of enjoying the great outdoors, so nicely illustrated in a recent TV advert, the vehicle has a more modern, progressive look.
In line with this theme, one instantly notices the changes, which include more aggressive lines, LED daytime running lights, sturdy 17-inch wheels, aluminium roof bars and front and rear skid plates.
The rear-light clusters have also been redesigned and are now an attractive square shape, very much like those you see on the Jeep Renegade. The vehicle also sits quite high and offers class-leading ground clearance of 210mm.
On test, we had the 1.5 dCi Prestige EDC 4x2, which is in the upper echelons of the model line-up. The interior provides plenty of space for those in the front or rear seats, and the boot is a substantial 478 litres, taking note of owners' needs when hitting the open road.
A big improvement is the introduction of a new multimedia system that is very user-friendly and comprehensive. One gets features such as a navigation system and a multi-camera exterior-viewing system.
The comfort and safety front also includes climate control, blind-spot warning, speed limiter, cruise control, ABS, EBD and EBA (emergency brake assist).
On the downside, the plastics used are hard. Not the end of the world, as one guesses this keeps the price attractive. The clarity on the multimedia system is also slightly grainy.
Now for the highlight, for me at least. The Duster has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. Or, more specifically, the frugality of this power-plant.
In seven days I clocked just more than 500km and was still left with a whopping 610km range, which lends weight to the manufacturer's claim of 4.8l/100km. It must be added that my driving was strictly around town, so out on the open road one should be able to squeeze a few more kilometres from the 50-litre tank.
Linked to a six-speed dual-clutch EDC automatic gearbox, power is rated at 80kW and 250Nm, quite adequate for the size and purpose of the vehicle.
Overall, the Duster offers excellent value for money. For those who still have concerns about buying a French car, the five-year/150 000km warranty and a three-year/45 000km service plan should help you sleep a little easier at night.
Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Prestige EDC 4x2: R334 900