Can you enjoy a compact SUV on curvy roads ? - Episode 2
Boom... One of the best roads I have seen in northern Iran. Curvy, unlimited edition with angry skies!
The Handling of a Hot Hatch ... Not Really !
The Renault Duster is definitely not my first choice to drive on a road like this. Not even on the top 100 for that matter ! But, as I said earlier, you have got to do with what you got and enjoy the moment to the last. So taking the Duster on this trip was pretty new to me as I was used to the handling of hot hatches and coupes all my life. I must can say that the handling characteristics of the Duster is not as risky as older big 4x4s, but not quite family sedan either. Somewhere right in between maybe. And I must painfully state that the car is equipped with a very 90's 4 speed auto with tiptronic, using a gear shifter that looks like the ones you can find on a 1994 Nissan Sunny. But the good news here is that the engine is a 135 Hp 2 liter with nearly 200 Nm of torque. Not Bad. Especially if you consider the car weighs 1,260 kg. So I started the journey thinking that driving with a bit of passion was out of the question. But once I started using the stone age gearbox and shifting from 3 to 2, and climbing the steep roads ahead, I began to see a pattern. You can definitely push this car ( a bit), and you will definitely enjoy it. Because the Duster is FWD, and most the weight is sitting on the front, when you are about to reach the limit of your cars handling performance, the car gives you a small warning by sliding its back ever so slightly and a smile on your face. But, if you were expecting anything more, don't. Aside from the 4 speed, the engine noise is not that motivating for the driver either. But that does not mean I didn't enjoy the ride. In fact, I probably enjoyed it much more than driving a sport car, why ? Because when the road ends ... your adventures don't.
A True Workhorse ...
With all that's said about the Duster, I never talked about it's offroad ability. I was pretty skeptical at first, especially since this model was not fitted with the 4WD system. But by offroading, I don't mean thrashing the mud, jumping over hills, and getting stuck in rivers. I mean, taking your car off the road, hitting the dirt, and avoid getting you and your family stuck and ruining your day. The Duster is truly a champion of this, since the engine is powerful enough to do the job, and most importantly, the ground clearance is almost as much a large bottled soft drink. This means that you can take the Duster where others would have to be stopped and continue the journey on foot. In fact, you take the duster with a soft push of the throttle. This means that you will reach the top of a steep set of curvy mountain terrain with large potholes without the need to worry about panicking. This means that you are faced with beautiful views, that would have been missed. Like Below.
The Verdict ?
After all I have said about the Duster, it's flaws, drawbacks, and shortcomings, I must admit that driving on old roads filled with potholes and bad asphalt, you would not want a car with coilver suspension with low profile tires. In fact, it would not survive the ordeal and you would probably end up spending a great deal on your suspension after the trip. In addition, the capability to get away from the asphalt gives you a great opportunity to start exploring the wilderness around you and enjoy a family bbq. Oh, and of course the large boot and decent backseat space makes this more perfect for the family travel. I learned on this journey that you should indeed never judge a book by the cover. The Duster is a great choice for a road trip, and it is indeed possible to enjoy a compact SUV on curvy roads. I will go back to my own quote (at least I think it's mine). Being a car enthusiast is not about what you drive, but about how much you enjoy what you drive. Take out your car keys, go for a drive, enjoy the scenes, and drive safely.
For now I will leave you with some photos of the trip, in the next post I will include a bunch of beautiful roads I found on this journey. Please rate this article at the end if you enjoyed reading it.