Home Cars & Bikes This Renault Duster is a fuel-economy champion

This Renault Duster is a fuel-economy champion

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Renault Duster dCi

The Renault Duster celebrates its tenth year in Mzansi. Is it still a good buy and what does it offer? To find out, we drove the Intens version of the latest Duster model series.

If you read the vehicle reviews on The Box Cutter, you might notice that hybrids and electric vehicles are given priority. However, internal combustion engines will be with us for years to come. Even diesel engines, that have fallen out of favour with car manufacturers since the emissions scandal, still find their way to car models destined for the South African market.

One of these is the Renault Duster, of which over 23 000 units were sold here since 2013. That’s a very decent sales figure, but it would have been higher if more motorists were aware of this car’s most important ability: to run on just a sniff of diesel. Is any feature more important when the fuel price nears R25 per litre?

Renault Duster dCi

What do I get for my money?

The Duster range is priced from R378 000 for the 1.5dCi Zen manual to R436 000 for the 1.5dCi Intens (auto) or 1.5dCi Zen 4WD (manual). We drove the 1.5dCi Intens (auto), but you can have the 4WD Duster 1.5dCi Zen for the same price. It’s not as luxurious as the Intens and it forgoes its stable-mate’s automatic gearbox. Yet it packs that useful all-wheel drive transmission, which is handy when facing rural roads and off-road routes. Though the 1.5dCi Intens powers the front wheels only (like most cars do), it offers the same ground clearance as the 4×4, namely 210 mm. Renault says this is best-in-class.

As the premium model derivative, the Intens is comprehensively equipped. Recently added enhancements include 17” Diamond Cut wheels, C-shaped LED daytime running lights, a new dashboard grain, updated seat design and fabrics, and back-lit steering wheel buttons.

Crammed with features

But that’s just for starters. It has on-board GPS Navigation, a wireless smartphone charger, a new semi-flush 8’’ multimedia touch screen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, USB ports, a rear camera, rear park distance control, automatic air-conditioning. You will also find cruise control, speed limiter, keyless entry, fog lamps ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), and four air-bags.

Then there’s Hill Start Assist, which holds the car steady for two seconds, allowing the driver to pull away on an incline without stalling or rolling back.

The cloth seats are comfortable and leather upholstery is available for R10 000. Legroom in the back is a bit tight, but the luggage area (478 litres) is generous.

Renault Duster dCi

How does it drive?

In the Intens version, the Duster’s 1,5-litre turbo-diesel engine makes 80 kW and 250 Nm. Don’t think its exceptional fuel economy of 4,8 litres per 100 km means modest performance. It weighs just 1 276 kg, so its 1,5-litre turbo-diesel engine makes it fly. In-gear acceleration is strong, making it easy to overtake on the open road. The dual-cluth automatic transmission’s shifts are quick and smooth, and it makes the Intens more fuel efficient than the other Dusters in the model line-up.

Why buy one?

A lifespan of 10 years is long for a car, with many models replaced by their successors after only eight years. These new models are usually exciting, bringing contemporary design, new tech, and often the latest features. There’s a catch, though. When the replacement model starts rolling off the production line, teething troubles often plague these cars. Only when it reaches its mid-cycle refresh, do the manufacturer succeeds in exorcising (most of) the model’s demons.

Renault Duster dCi

Conclusion and rating

This is perhaps the Duster’s best attribute – a range of over 1 000 km from it’s 50-litre tank, which will cost about R1 100 to fill. Considering it has a service plan of 3 years or 45 000 km, it can cost as little as R1 per kilometre to drive the Duster. At R436 000 it’s certainly not cheap. But when you consider its comprehensive equipment list and low running cost, the price is justified.

The Duster 1.5dCi Intens scores 5 out of 5.

5.0 out of 5.0 stars
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