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We drive the Renault Duster 4x4

If you want to make the most of your off-road adventures, the new Duster 4×4 has a lot to offer at an affordable price…

The latest Renault Duster range includes a new 4×4 option for customers who want to venture off the beaten track. It appeals to those who need a vehicle that can withstand harsher road surfaces and off road conditions without fuss, and we’ve just spent a week with it down KwaZulu Natal’s South Coast.

The new Duster 4×4 is (for now) only available with a six-speed manual transmission in Dynamique trim, and is powered by a 1.5-litre dCi engine. It gets all the upgrades and exciting features that the rest of the newly upgraded range has, from exciting and fresh styling to a much more refined cabin environment. With all its new features and enhancements, the new Duster 4×4 is more versatile than before, whether you’re in the city or out exploring adventurous roads.

Exterior styling

Every single body panel of the Duster is completely new, however it still maintains the look and feel of the Duster we know and love. Overall, it’s outside appearance is more muscular and aggressive with new headlamp designs, a more modern-looking grille, 16-inch wheels and “4WD” badges that can be seen on the front wheel arches, distinguishing it from the rest of the range.

Interior

If the outgoing Duster’s interior was too drab and boring for you, you’ll be glad to know that the new one is much more refined and offers a lot more style and excitement than one should expect from a budget SUV.

The Duster’s infotainment system 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 enveloping and higher-quality seats, as well as loads more room and space for storage.

Driving solo with the new Duster 4×4

To get to my final destination, I needed to travel for 180 km from Durban’s city centre, down the South Coast towards San Lameer. It’s not the safest of road-trips, as my aunt who works for a car tracking company will tell you, as it involves a combination of bad road conditions, protesting, and areas where vehicle crime is rife. I was also driving solo, so I had to be sure that the Duster was going to facilitate any defensive or advanced driving skills. In fact before my road trip began I’d gone as far as watching various break tests and moose tests of the new Duster on YouTube – and things looked pretty good to me.

Once the Duster had been handed over to me, I needed to settle in pretty quickly and get going, before disapproving policemen could tell me off for overstayed my welcome in the Drop And Go area of King Shaka Airport. Some cars take longer than I’d like to get used to – with seat adjustment settings and connectivity operations often feeling like heart surgery.

Thankfully, adjusting the height of my seat and steering wheel, connecting my phone and setting up my destination on the Duster’s built-in Navigation system took no time at all. I was soon on my way and no longer activating my windscreen wipers every time I wanted to indicate – come on, we all take some time to get used to a new car’s indicator vs. windscreen wipers set up.

There’s a lot to keep you safe on the road when you’re in the Duster. The vehicle’s Blind Spot warning detects any obscured vehicles. You need to activate this yourself by pressing a button to the right of the steering wheel – I find that you become quite dependent on it once you’re used to it, it’s quite interesting to learn just how much the car can see that you might not.  There’s also a Speed Limiter and Cruise Control functions for extra support on the roads, while the Duster’s impressive MultiView Camera is really great to have and gives you visibility of the front, rear and side surroundings.

I arrived at my destination safely and in time for some fun, mild, off roading with the new Duster. The Duster 4×4 has a range of features to assist any tricky obstacles and terrains. These include Hill Descent Control that lets you ride smoothly down steep hills without the use of the brake.

With the Transmission Mode Selector available on the 4×4 Model, I could 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.

Conclusion and pricing

If driving off road is something that you see yourself doing a lot of, and you need a vehicle to get you there that doesn’t come at a hefty price, the new Renault Duster 4×4 is an absolute MUST when it comes to your list of options to test drive. It’s even more accommodating if you’ve got a family or pets who enjoy tagging along – as there are loads of practical and comfort features – not to mention ample security and safety for everyone.

Granted, not everyone is an avid off-roader and perhaps you don’t need all the extra 4×4 features. In this case, the regular Dusters in the range have everything else we enjoyed about our test car, and are just as affordable.

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

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