Car review: The new Renault Duster

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There are so many new vehicles which hit the market that it’s hard to keep track. In Car Spotlight, every month we highlight a new release which we think is worth looking at. This time it’s the new Renault Duster.

Ask South Africans to choose between the boxy, upright Mercedes-Benz G-Class and the sleek, stretched S-Class sedan, and eight out of 10 of them will go for the big G.

That’s right, the SUV has replaced all other body styles as the people’s favourite, in spite of these vehicles’ loftier prices.

Carmakers who offer affordable SUVs that are comfy and fun to drive, and of a decent quality, earn a fortune. Which is what Renault is doing with the Duster.

The TechRoad (R327 900) is the second generation of this cheeky off-roader, and comes in the middle of the Duster range.

Our test car was fitted with a slick, dual-clutch automatic transmission. It was Audi that made these quick, smooth-shifting gearboxes popular.

They aid in low fuel consumption too. This is perhaps the Duster’s best attribute – a range of more than 1 000km from its 50-litre tank, which costs about R825 to fill.

The TechRoad has built-in navigation, which is handy when your phone is out of data or outside of cell reception.

It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allows you to reply to a message (via some messaging apps) with speech-to-text.

The cloth seats have a smart tartanesque weave and are comfortable too. Legroom in the back is a bit tight, but the luggage area is generous for a vehicle of its size.

Many SUVs look the part but become flustered at the first pothole or gravel patch. Not so for the Duster, which takes it all in its stride.

For even stronger off-road ability, buyers can have the manual-only 4x4 Duster for the same price. But if the diesel Dusters are out of your reach, the 1.6 petrol version can be had for an accessible R255 900.

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