Driving impression: Renault Duster 4×4

The Renault Duster has only been available in South Africa, but already we’ve spent a decent amount of time behind the wheel.

Renault was kind enough to lend us one during the December holidays and it was a joy to live with. We enjoyed the space, comfort and smooth EDC gearbox, but most of all we appreciated the fact that it was so light on diesel. Being used to a Haval that consumes roughly 13 litres/100km, or a modified Everest that consumes even more than that, the Duster received a very warm welcome indeed.

Renault recently finalised the launch of the Duster by introducing the highly-anticipated 4×4 model. We knew the previous car extremely well, as we spent nearly two years with it as a long-term vehicle. The good news is that we’ll be spending a decent amount of time with the new car as well, as it will also be joining our long-term fleet.

There aren’t many differences between the 4×4 on the standard car exterior wise. There’s a subtle 4×4 badge on the flanks, but that’s about it.

On the inside you get some additional features on the infotainment system. It can show you the angle of the slope you’re driving up, for example. There’s also a multi-camera system, so you can spot any hazards in front of or on the sides of the vehicle.

In between the seats there’s a little dial. From there you can select from three driving modes – 2WD, Auto and 4WD Lock. The two-wheel option is for normal driving conditions and if you’re keen on eking out a few extra kilometres on a tank. The Auto function will distribute power between the axles if it detects a loss of grip, while the 4WD Lock distributes the power evenly between the two axles at all times.

Also new is the hill descent control system, which only operates at 10km/h. We tried it driving down a few steep slopes and it felt just a tad too fast for our liking. We’ll have more people drive it soon to see whether they feel the same. Our co-pilot on the launch felt it was fine and it has to be said that the speed at which a car goes down a hill is a very personal thing. Some adjustability in terms of the speed would have been nice, however.

That’s as far as the complaints go. The 4×4 track Renault provided wasn’t tough, but it also wasn’t something one would be able to complete in a crossover with front-wheel drive.

We’re looking forward to seeing what this little car is capable of in the coming year, but if we had to guess, it’s going to be a lot. We’re already shopping around for more off-road biased tyres online…

Currently, it’s somewhere near Durban, where it’s doing the family holiday thing. It’s worth mentioning that it had no problems carrying enough luggage for five people for a ten-day vacation.

Best of all? The average consumption for the trip down (from refill to refill) worked out at just 5.4 litres/100km. Not bad for a 1.5-litre diesel lump carrying roughly 400kg in people and luggage.

The 4×4 Retails for just under R330 000.