Renault SA has given the Duster even more appeal by offering a 1.5dCi 4×2 Dynamique with an automatic transmission. Up to now all Duster models, including the 1.6 Expression and Dynamique and the 1.5dCi 4×4 Dynamique, have exclusively been offered with a six-speed manual gearbox.
With the superb Hyundai Creta the only diesel model in the segment with an automatic gearbox, there was obviously a gap in the market and now the Duster has closed it. It might not have the plush finishes of the Creta nor a more comprehensive infotainment system, but at R299 900 (including a three-year/45 000km service plan), it manages to undercut the Korean offering by almost R100 000.
Launched in Muldersdrift, Gauteng recently the latest Duster offering includes an updated interior as part of the facelift given to the model in recent months. This includes a new grille, alloy wheels (in the instance of the Dynamique models), a leather-bound steering wheel and door-mounted window switches instead of the drop-down console setup of the previous model.
Under the bonnet sits the 1.5-litre turbo diesel we have come to adore over the years — it’s a spunky yet thrifty engine that has always delivered in most applications. Now that it is allied to a six-speed EDC automatic transmission similar to that used in the Kadjar, the entire character of the engine in this application has moved from good to superb.
With 80kW and 250Nm (the latter 10Nm more than its manual siblings), the gearbox matches the engine so eloquently that you find yourself riding a constant wave of torque, right from the get-go. Turbo lag also seems to have been quelled slightly and there is more grunt in the middle of the rev range. We can’t help but wonder why it took so long for this particular derivative to come to fruition.
In fact, we would go as far as to say that the engine feels much more eager and together than in the bigger Kadjar. At the price, you would be hard-pressed to find better value for money in the segment and this particular model is the pick of the range. – Lerato Matebese