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New EDC: Renault SA adds auto ‘box to Duster SUV range

2017-07-21 09:22

Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

  Gallery

Renault SA will add a new derivative to its Duster range - the 4x2 EDC.

Charlen Raymond

Gauteng - The Renault Duster has been on South African roads for the better part of four years and has remained a popular SUV in the automaker's local line-up.

In late 2016 Renault South Africa spruced its the Duster with a minor facelift though the drivetrain (engines and gearbox) remained unchanged. Adapting to buying trends, the automaker has enhanced its Duster range with the addition of its first automatic derivative.

Duster in SA

Since its local launch in September 2013, the Duster has found more than 12 000 homes locally. Globally, Renault has sold more than two million Duster SUVs.

Gallery: 2017 Renault Duster

The Duster is currently sold in both petrol and diesel-powered versions though only available with manual transmissions; a five-speed manual gearbox for petrol versions and six-speed manual for the diesel. Though it never deterred sales, Renault says many clients inquired about an automatic variant.

Renault mated its new Electronic Dual-Clutch (EDC) 'box to its diesel engine. Why? Diesel-powered variant account for 63% of Duster sales in South Africa.

New gearbox, more range

Though this new variant utilises the same 1.5-litre diesel engine as its siblings, torque has been increase from 240Nm to 250Nm. Power remains unchanged at 80kW. Despite the increase in torque, the Duster will continue to return a fuel economy of 4.8 litre/100km.

A Renault technician at the launch claimed he covered a distance of 1200km on a single tank of diesel recently. Truth or a marketing gimmick? He seems like a stand-up guy…

The EDC has six gears sending power to the front wheels. Calibrated to run with the ECU (engine control unit), the gearbox will match/read throttle inputs and engine speeds in an attempt to be in the right gear at any given moment. This all equates to the Duster being an fuel-efficient proposition.

The new engine/gearbox combination is only available in 4x2 Dynamic trim. Standard on the vehicle is a steering wheel and gear lever covered in leather, a 7" touchscreen, rear-parking sensor and rear-view camera, as well as cruise control with speed limiter.

The Duster also retains its large boot rated at 475 litres.


Driving it

The launch route took us from a little estate just a few kilometres from Lanseria airport towards the North West, covering long stretches of road where the new EDC-equipped Duster could stretch its legs.

What stands out is how simple the Duster is to drive. With the gearbox left to its own devices, it eased through gears with barely any hassle. There is a manual option for drivers to change gears themselves but there is rarely any need for this option. Mid-range punch, however, requires a lower gear to used manually especially during overtaking but overall there is not much to frown upon.

Engine grumble is kept to a minimum though wind and tyre noises is present at high speeds are noticeable. You can still manage a lekker conversation without having to shout over your mates.

Part of the route included a 35km stretch of gravel. The Duster soldiered on and through the ruts - in part thanks to its 210mm ground clearance. At times it seemed that an undulation could unsettle the Duster and send it jolting about but that never happened, the Duster has impeccable manners both on and off-road courtesy of its 2016 facelift.

Less than R300 000

In its segment, the Duster competes with the Hyundai Creta 1.6 diesel auto. Tough the Creta has a bit more power (94kW/260Nm) and leather seats as opposed to the Duster’s cloth (leather optional), Renault's SUV costs substantially less than its Korean counterpart; R299 900 vs. R369 900.

Renault also offers a five-year or 100 000km warranty and three-year or 45 000km service plan.




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