Ralph Waldo Emerson said,” Do not go where the path may lead, instead, go where there is no path and leave a trail.” As I have gotten older, I am less inclined to what people think of me, I am not succumbed to the fear of the unknown, I would rather challenge my limitations than give into them – and it is on that wavelength the Duster 4×4 and I connect.

Prior to my review of the Duster 4×4, I had been suffering with a serious bout of cabin fever, along with an aggravating itch to, “break-free and escape,” the Duster 4×4 provided that last nudge to push me over the edge. I called on Blackie Swart, M.D of Torquethetalk and head of Renault’s press fleet for advice – how capable is the Duster 4×4. Blackie told me the Duster 4×4 is an extremely capable machine and can tackle most 4×4 off-road trails. I knew of a mountain-top off-road trail next to the R28 which was perfect for my review, but without proper knowledge of the terrain I could quite easily find myself in a great deal of trouble. So, I mapped out a route of my own: with plenty of muddy trenches, loose shale gravel, slippery slopes and steep inclines. Along with inclines that once I attempted, there would be no means to egress, or to find alternative path, nor was there space to reverse.  Nevertheless, the Duster and I soldiered on. Yet every time I got to those “point of no return,” sections, I would spend about ten minutes inspecting the path, with the build-up of nervous tension as to whether-or-not I should retreat while I still had the chance. Alas, as my inner explorer protested, “we’ve come too far sonny, there’s no turning back now,” and while at the top of a rocky slope, I imagined the Duster shouting at me, “come on, we can do this.” It was risky, and despite the Duster’s “die hard can do attitude,” its dexterity is limited: a 23° break-over angle, 210mm ground clearance, 30 ° approach-angle and 36° departure angle – figures that do not cater for extreme off-road 4×4’ing. Yet, the Duster 4×4 is always prodding that inner child who is bored with the monotony of life, and in dire need of spontaneity and adventure. Enlivened with sufficient performance, the Duster 4×4 features a bullet proof 80kw, 1.5dCi turbodiesel engine coupled to a 6-speed manual gearbox – a remarkable duo that is as indestructible as a diesel engine powered oil tanker yet as light on fuel as Hummingbird sipping nectar – 5L/100km on average. The Duster’s drivetrain serves as a hallmark of reliability. A short ratio 1st gear gives the Duster a great deal of pulling power, enabling it to climb furrowed inclines without pressing the accelerator pedal or modulating the clutch. For what it is, the Duster 4×4 is both extremely, versatile, competent and capable. Pound-for-pound, there isn’t a competitor in its price range that can match its off-road capabilities.

One could say the Duster 4×4 offers great value-for-money, just with far more aspirations, a lifestyle filled with outdoor activities, off-road adventures, fun, that is highly practical and family focused…that is pure sui generis. The entire Duster range comes standard with four airbags, ABS/EBD, BAS/EBA, both traction and stability control. Bluetooth connectivity, USB/AUX functions, cruise-control, PDC, and a multifunction steering wheel. Navigation and a reverse-camera are exclusive to Dynamique models – at a price of R304 900 for the Duster 4×4 1.5dCi.

By Dean Joseph