The Renault Duster 1.5dCi 4×2 EDC automatic, wedges “somewhere” between a crossover and a compact SUV – dare I call it a sub-compact crossover SUV! First launched in South Africa in 2013 – the arrival of the Duster had the same welcome appeal as finding out you’ve just inherited a feral cat and a military army-pack mule. But that all changed when the first facelift model arrived in 2015, and since then the Duster’s popularity has grown in leaps-and-bounds. In the categories of style vs space vs reliability, the new Duster ticks all the right boxes and does exactly what it says it does on the can.

Having just won the award for the most Fuel Efficient Brand in the 2019 Wesbank Fuel Economy Tour: first place went to the Renault Captur 1.5dCi, second place to the Duster 1.5dCi and third place to the Kwid Climber. With a combined fuel-cycle of 4.5l/100km – the 1.5dCi engine ranks as the world’s most fuel-efficient 1500cc turbodiesel engine: which means the new Renault Duster 1.5dCi 4×2 EDC automatic is unequivocally the most fuel-efficient sub-compact SUV in its class. Powered by an 80kw, 1.5dCi, turbodiesel engine, mated to a 6-speed EDC, (Dual-clutch) automatic gearbox – with a combined output – the drivetrain delivers 250nm of torque to the front-wheels. But the Duster is no slouch. Whether you are on the open road or ebbing your way through the mania of suburban traffic – the 1.5dCi now offers both improved on-road performance and sharper throttle-response. Something else about the Duster EDC 4×2, which I find quite remarkable, is at a fully-laden vehicle mass of 1854kg, the Duster is still capable of a brake-towing capacity of 1500kg. Which means, you can head to the coast with your luggage, beach chairs, cooler-boxes, canoe packed, your kids strapped to the roof-rails and tow your Caravan with your mother-in-law inside it. Among its menagerie of driving credentials, the Duster retains its gallantry for dirt roads. Having encountered a few unpaved routes during my review of the Duster, even at highway speeds, the Duster remains defiantly stable and composed. Composure that transmutes passenger comfort, effortless steering and easy-to-live with drivability. Along with barrels of cabin space and a comprehensive suite of tech’ features which include plug & play audio streaming, Bluetooth functionality, a 21cm Media-nav Evolution Infotainment Touchscreen with GPS-navigation, steering-wheel column mounted audio controls and cruise-control – available across the Duster range of 1.5dCi models. While the top of the range Prestige model boasts a Multiview/reverse-camera. In addition, the Duster’s impressive list of safety features – these include – dual-airbags, ABS/EBD with emergency brake-assist, hill-start assist, electronic stability program with traction-control and blind-spot warning.

Ultimately built to thrive among the enduring demands of urban living, traffic congested commutes, long-distant road-trips, as well as defiant adolescents and vomiting infants.

Forget what you think you know about Renault, rather “hold the diamond close to your eye,” at a price tag of R340 900, you will notice everything pales in comparison to the new Renault Duster 1.5dCi, Prestige, EDC 4×2.

Written by Dean Joseph