Renault introduced its new Duster SUV to the South African market in October 2018, and with it came a lot of excitement over new exterior styling and enhanced interior design and features. It also became a lot more versatile in terms of tackling more adventurous roads, even in its normal guise. But those seeking a true 4×4 version of the new Duster had to wait patiently.
Now, the wait is over after Renault introduced the 4×4 model to the new Duster range last week (14 March 2019). In great excitement we headed to Magaliesberg to put the new Duster 4×4 through its paces – and oh what fun, because not only does this little off roader make tricky obstacles easy to conquer, it keeps everything else we love about the new Duster in check too…
The new Renault Duster 4×4 is available in Dynamique trim, which features black roof rails, black skid plates, black mirrors and colour coded door handles that give the Duster the kind of look that says “Ready, steady, let’s go!” When I look at it I immediately associate it with a young, active family – dad enjoys his water sports, mom loves nothing more than cheering her kids on at sports day, and the kids can’t wait for their next outdoor family holiday. Or, if you’re like me and you spend your weekends exploring new places, coastlines and mountainous destinations solo, but you also commute and work in the city, the Duster is a perfect fit for both lifestyles.
Inside, the new Duster offers a MUCH more refined cabin environment. The previous Duster was just a tad too bland and certain things were in serious need of an upgrade. One such upgrade is the positioning of the new Duster’s infotainment system – it is finally angled towards the driver, so you don’t have to lean left or take your eyes off the road quite as much as before. Phew! It is also far more comfortable inside, with new higher-quality and more enveloping seats, as well as loads more room and space for storage.
There’s a lot that’s new about the new Duster, but we’ve already covered that in previous reviews, so here’s what we’ve learnt about the new Duster 4×4 model…
At its launch we spent the first half of the day test driving the Duster’s new 4×4 out on the highway, as well as on a bit of adventurous gravel. As you’d expect, the 4×4 model has no problem managing even the most uneven and bumpiest of surfaces. On the gravel, my co-driver managed to have a 20-minute nap, and there were some serious ditches and bumps along the way. On the highway, the Duster is responsive, as well as extremely fuel efficient as we averaged around 5.8-litres/100km.
For now, the new Duster is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission, and while I know that demand for a two-peddle option in the 4×4 market is increasing, I much preferred the control I had from the responsive manual gearbox. Perhaps Renault will consider an Automatic EDC option at some point.
We then moved onto the 4×4 obstacle course – which really had me questioning Renault’s trust in a) the new Duster and b) us – the drivers. I wondered if they weren’t perhaps being a bit too overly-ambitious here, especially with several areas that couldn’t have been any easier to flip a car on. Thankfully, the Duster 4×4 is kitted with several off-roading features to stop that from happening, and now that I’ve lived to tell the tale, they’re impressive!
The Renault Duster 4×4 is distinguished through its range of equipment to enhance the vehicle’s off-road capabilities, such as Hill Descent Control, enabling smooth descent of hills without use of the brake. A MultiView Camera allows for easy visibility of the front, rear or side terrain, triggered by the reverse gear or by a touch of the dedicated button, while the innovative 4×4 monitor allows you to check the pitch and roll angles of the Duster at any given time.
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With the Transmission Mode Selector available on the 4×4 Model, the driver is able to switch between 3 driving modes: 2WD Mode where the engine torque is distributed to the front wheels, Automatic Mode allowing distribution of engine torque over the 4 wheels or Lock Mode for engine torque distribution to all four wheels.
A higher ground clearance of 210 mm and approach and departure angles of 30° high approach and 34° departure angles respectively make the Duster 4×4 even better suited to all-terrain driving.
So all in all, the new Duster 4×4 model is ready to tackle a lot off road, and I love how Renault has maintained everything we love about its regular new models (design, comfort and features) in its off-roading variant. What also stood out is that although we were able to really throw it around on the 4×4 track, I didn’t step out of the vehicle feeling like we’d been through war and back.
The new Duster 4×4 is powered by a 1.5-litre dCi engine which as I mentioned is linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It offers 80kW of power with 260Nm of torque (a good amount for punching up tricky inclines).
If you’re looking for smaller SUV that is economical, practical and great around the city, but that can also take on almost any off road obstacles, consider the new Duster 4×4 for your list of test drives.
RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICING
– NEW Renault DUSTER 1.6 Expression 4X2 R255 900
– NEW Renault DUSTER 1.5 dCi Dynamique 4×2 R288 900
– NEW Renault DUSTER 1.5 dCi Dynamique EDC 4×2 R322 900
– NEW Renault DUSTER 1.5 dCi Dynamique 4×4 R327 900
– NEW Renault DUSTER 1.5dCi Prestige EDC 4×2 R340 900