Renault Duster 1.6L: Dusting off a popular recipe


Barely the first affordable and compact yet capable SUV, the Renault Duster has nonetheless proved hugely popular in global markets, since its launch in 2010 under the Dacia brand, with 2.45 million first-generation models sold.

Sold in Middle Eastern markets under the Renault Group’s French parent brand, the Duster bridged the gap between rugged small SUVs like the Lada Niva and Suzuki Jimny at one end, and both rugged small hatchbacks and more fashionable car-type crossovers at the other end of the market.

Fresh and refined

Succeeded by a fresher and more refined second-generation model in 2018, the Duster continues to be offered in 2-litre 4×4 or 1.6-litre front-wheel-drive variants, the former more obviously leaning towards the small SUV market, while that the latter is conceptually closer to the styling-focused crossover market. That said, the Duster offers plenty of convenience, space, comfort and value for money, even the front-wheel-drive version offers surprisingly good – albeit limited – off-road capability that exceeds the needs and expectations of most crossover drivers.

An accessible, economical, practical and popular small SUV in both developing and developed markets, the first generation Duster accounted for 20% of Renault’s sales in the Middle East and 25% of Dacia’s global sales. Built on the same core mechanics and platform, the second-generation Duster retains the original’s character, utility and “just the right amount” technical approach. Fresher, smoother, better aesthetically integrated and more assertive, the fresher design of the second-generation Duster comes with improved driving dynamics, technology upgrades and a more refined cabin makeover .

Economical and scalable

Compact and economical yet comfortable and roomy for daily family travel, the well-designed new Duster improves on the recipe of its predecessor. Same size but aesthetically evolutionary, it features thinner headlights with a sharper signature, a more dynamic grille design and a more liberal use of premium chrome elements. More robust with its taller waistline, steeper angled A-pillars and more defined wheel arches and cladding, it also incorporates better integrated roof rails, new alloy wheels, a more prominent rear skid plate and Sporty styled square crosshair taillights.

Offered as a top-of-the-range 2-litre 133bhp or entry-level 1.6-litre front-wheel-drive version, the familiar engine of this latest significantly lighter variant develops 113bhp at 5,500rpm and a 115 lb/ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Proven engine, the Duster’s naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder can hardly be called powerful, however. It is nevertheless progressive in its delivery, refined and offers adequate response and versatility, mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) system with its fine-ratio modifications, which make good use of available power for efficiency and performance. when driven with a heavy right. foot.

Smooth and tidy

Carrying its sub-1,300kg mass through the benchmark 0-100km/h in 13.2 seconds and up to a maximum of 161km/h, the Duster boasts a relatively frugal combined cycle fuel consumption of 6 .9 l/100km. While it’s more engaging with a traditional manual gearbox than its predecessor, the wider gear range of Duster’s new entry-level CVT allows for better flexibility on the go. However, overtaking maneuvers should always be timed carefully, especially on steep inclines, where more power would be welcome. The Duster’s smooth CVT can mimic a traditional gearbox, with six preset manual mode ratios.

Well able to accommodate more power than available, the Duster is adept on twisty roads, even with the front-wheel-drive model’s less sophisticated torsion-beam suspension, instead of the 4×4 version’s multi-link design. Tidy around the corners with its new electric power steering that’s faster, more precise and 35% lighter, the Duster’s driving dynamics aren’t much different from a family sedan, albeit longer and not as agile. That said, the new Duster is nimble and impatient, for an SUV, especially in tight, early turns.

Comfortably able

With a reassuring grip at the rear, the new Duster however seems a little better balanced and agile, with less understeer bias. Absorbing all but the sharpest bumps and potholes well, it easily buffs out most blemishes in its stride. While not as capable as its 4×4 sibling, the nimble and maneuverable front-wheel-drive Duster nevertheless does surprisingly well on moderately demanding, rocky, loose, narrow and twisty off-road roads. Comfortably supple with 215/65R16 tyres, it also benefits from a generous 210mm of ground clearance and 21° approach, 30° rollover and 34° departure angles.

Comfortable, refined and tuned to imperfections, the Duster is stable at speed and well-tuned against noise, vibration and harshness. Ergonomically and aesthetically improved, it offers a better driving position, better seat padding and lateral support, as well as seat height and steering adjustment. Spacious front and rear, the Duster can accommodate 478 liters of cargo, which expands to 1623 liters when the split rear seats are folded down. Airy inside with good visibility and upgraded equipment levels, it includes rear parking sensors, electronic hill descent assist, three-point seat belts, Isofix child seat locks and more.


  • Engine: 1.6 litre, transverse 4-cylinder
  • Valve train: 16 valves, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke: 78 x 83.6mm
  • Transmission: continuously variable transmission (CVT), front wheel drive
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 113 (115) [84] at 5500 rpm
  • Specific power: 71BHP/litre
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 115 (156) @ 4000 rpm
  • Specific torque: 97.6 Nm/litre
  • 0-100 km/h: 13.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 161 km/h
  • Fuel consumption, extra-urban/urban/combined: 5.8-/8.8-/
  • 6.9 litres/100 km
  • CO2 emissions, combined: 160 g/km
  • Fuel capacity: 50 liters
  • Length: 4341mm
  • Width: 1804mm
  • Height: 1693mm
  • Wheelbase: 2674mm
  • Front/rear overhang: 842/826 mm
  • Ground clearance: 210mm
  • Approach/breakthrough/departure angles: 21°/30°/34°
  • Fording depth: 350 mm
  • Cargo volume, min/max: 467-/1623 liters
  • Front/rear cabin width: 1,403/1,416 mm
  • Curb weight: 1,235-1,294 kg
  • Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar/torsion beam, coil springs
  • Steering: electrically assisted rack and pinion
  • Turning circle: 10.14 meters
  • Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated discs/drums
  • Tyres: 215/65R16

About Author

Comments are closed.