• The Nissan NP200 is the only compact single-cab bakkie available in SA.
• Romturingia, a Romanian engineering consultancy, has developed a single-cab Duster bakkie.
• This Duster single cab has a very competent engine and drivetrain combination.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za.
With automotive companies releasing massive R&D funding for bakkies, one can hardly imagine there is a niche segment that has not been filled.
Yet in South Africa, the longing for a proper compact single-cab bakkie with all-terrain ability endures. Only Nissan remains actively involved, with its NP200, but it is only available in front-wheel drive. For those who want the loadbox utility of a single cab, but dislike the vast dimensions and parking inconvenience of a one-tonner bakkie, there isn't much choice anymore. This is especially true if you want something that has all-wheel drive traction, too.
What would be the ideal candidate for a compact single-cab bakkie? It should logically be the development of a proven compact small SUV platform - something like Renault's Duster.
And this is precisely what has now happened. The dream specification of many compact bakkie fans has become a reality, with Renault's latest product announcement.
The French automotive giant first revealed a single-cab Duster concept last year. Romturingia, a Romanian engineering consultancy, developed this bakkie. For the last few months, they have continued to refine and improve this Duster single-cab design, which has now been confirmed for production.
Would you be interested in a Duster single-cab bakkie if it became available in SA, and why? Please email us your thoughts, perhaps we can encourage Renault to bring it here.
Dacia Duster bakkie (Dacia Media)
Engineers at Romturingia have strengthened the cab section and designed a custom loadbox that works with the Duster's coil-sprung rear axle configuration and fuel tank placement. The tailgate is also very similar in appearance to a five-door Duster SUV's rear, even retaining those rectangular taillamps, which are much larger than anything you'd ordinarily see on a bakkie.
Load capacity is crucial with any bakkie, even when it is a compact single-cab. Romturingia's technical specialists have enabled the new Duster single-cab to carry a payload of 500kg, which should be entirely adequate for any leisure of lifestyle bakkie application. Beyond its disarmingly cute appearance and neatly integrated loadbox and cab architecture, this Duster single cab has a very competent engine and drivetrain combination.
Renault's 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel engine has proven itself to be a terrific powertrain in Duster: potent, frugal, drivable and reliable. It boosts 80kW and 260Nm, which should shift a lightweight single-cab bakkie with aplomb. And then there is the promise of terrific diesel economy, too.
The 1.5 dCi Duster has demonstrated itself to be a remarkably fuel-efficient vehicle. South African owners have been hugely impressed with how much range one can return from the Duster turbodiesel's 50-litre tank.
Although the single-cab bakkie version is 19mm shorter than a Duster SUV, it has the same fuel tank capacity. Overall, aerodynamic drag might be a touch greater due to its open loadbox, but you'd still get very close to 5 litres/100km in terms of diesel consumption, with this bakkie.
Like the Duster 1.5 dCi 4x4 platform it has evolved from, the single-cab bakkie has a commendable all-terrain ability. Romturingia's engineers have even managed to improve the overall ground clearance and off-road ability of the Duster bakkie, by raising it.
Compared to Nissan's NP200, the Duster single cab is a lot more capable when you wish to explore off-road terrain. Whereas an NP200 has 177mm of ground clearance and only drives the front wheels, this Duster single-cab has 224mm of underbody clearance and a clutch-pack which can send torque to the rear wheels too.
Renault has only committed to marketing its excellent new Duster single-cab 4x4 bakkie in Romania, but it would unquestionably be a massive success in the South African market.