The Renault Duster is All About Bang For Your Buck
Dacia has arrived on Kiwi shores, as a Renault. So is the Renault Duster any good? Well as it happens, yes, if you like bang for your buck.
If there is one brand which has always managed to intrigue me in recent years, it would have to be those bang-for-your-buck Romanian folks, Dacia. Mind you this was mostly down to a certain immensely popular BBC car show. Fans would immediately recognize Dacia as being one of the long-haired fella’s favourite daily run-arounds.
Their cars have epitomized the essence of motoring, and value for money, but no Dacia has ever set foot, or be it turned a wheel, in the New Zealand new car market, until now. Enter the Duster, though in New Zealand, it is badged as a Renault.
So, the Renault Duster. What is it? Well, at first glance, appears to be one of the best value-for-money cross-overs on our shores. The Duster sits alongside the Captur and larger Koleos in the Renault SUV family. With a special launch price of $27,990NZ, it greatly undercuts the Japanese norm, and goes head to head with the new Kia Seltos LX.
So, what exactly do you get for your $28k? Under the bonnet sits a 1.6L four-cylinder petrol engine producing 84kW of grunt and 156Nm of torque. A CVT automatic takes care of each gear and fuel consumption figures are rated at and average of 6.9L/100km, not too bad really.
On board kit includes Blind Spot Monitoring, 360 Degree Camera, Rear Parking Sensors, Hill Start Assist, tyre pressure monitoring, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, ECO mode, a smart 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, speed limiter, cruise control and that’s pretty much it. You basically get all the necessities a new car should have in 2020, with no extra fripperies to speak of.
Hope inside and you sit rather upright in the cloth seats. The driving position itself is very raised, you sort of feel like you sit on the duster rather than in it. The switchgear is easy enough to get your head around, and Renault-philes will be familiar the positioning of the cruise control/speed limiter toggle switch, which this writer forgot about!
Rear seat passengers sit as upright as those in the front, but the rear seats are still plush enough. Head and legroom are decent, as is the level of boot space at 445L. fold the rear seats down and this increases to 1478L.
Moving onto the subject of looks, I don’t think the Duster is a thing of automotive beauty, but it certainly isn’t an ugly duckling by any means. It’s what I would call, safe styling, decent enough looks while not looking too outrageous and controversial. The 16-inch alloys look good and there are hints of Jeep Renegade in the rear light cluster.
The Duster has a conventional turn-key rather than the keyless norm we have become used to. Isn’t it funny when 20 years ago keyless entry was considered to be black magic in the car world? Now, we take it so much for granted. Anyway, I digress. After turning said key, we are off.
The first thing I noticed when maneuvering around the inner-city jungle, was the Duster’s rather impressive turning circle of 10 metres. The Duster can honestly slice and dice like a hatch through the traffic, though you wont be getting ahead in the hurry. In fact, you have to ring its neck to get up to speed.
This is no big deal when cruising along, just give yourself extra notice before giving it the beans. However, despite being a bit down on go, the 1.6 petrol engine is still a refined unit. It doesn’t drone on and manages to be quiet and relatively refined.
Ride comfort is also a big plus as the Duster manages to soak up all manner of tarmac, and rolling downs, with relative ease. Visibility is generous for the front, but a tad compromised at the rear. There is minimal body roll in the corners and there is plenty of feedback in the twisty bits.
After three days sampling my first experience of the Dacia/Renault joint venture, I came away feeling rather impressed. The niggles are there, but for this kind of money, the Duster is cheap, cheerful, and despite not being the quickest toy in the toybox, it’s still a refined proposition for a daily driver or durable weekend crossover.
By no means brisk, but perfectly ideal if you want a well to do durable, good value soft roader which does everything well