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Renault Duster review – How low can your fuel consumption go?

The Renault Duster Intens is the most fuel-efficient car that’s ever passed through my hands.

After 100km the fuel gauge was unmoved, after 200km I became concerned that it might be broken, and after 400km it only went down by a smidge over 10%.

It was not the fuel consumption alone that was highly impressive, though, but the characterful Duster itself.

Efficiency champ

The Duster is currently one of the most fuel-efficient cars in South Africa. When I found out I was getting the keys to one I was confident I would be able to burn through a decent portion of diesel as it has never before been very difficult to do.

However, it didn’t take long before coming to the conclusion that it was going to need much more than a week to put a notable dent in this Renault’s tank.

I cleared no less than 410km of mostly city driving with short stints on highways and the crossover’s fuel gauge lost a grand total of one out of its eight bars.

On the final day the combined consumption read 5.1l/100km – 0.3l above the claimed official average – and the maximum range still stood at 790km, while with a full tank it said 900km.

The most surprising part about it all is that the Duster wasn’t down on power, either.

Thanks to its preference for diesel the 1.5-litre turbocharged engine generates 80kW and 250Nm, the torquey output meaning it’s more powerful than the majority of its direct competitors and this is noticeable from behind the wheel.

The Renault has decent reactions off the line when you need it and you also don’t struggle to overtake even when pushing highway speeds.

It handles bumps and impacts very well, too, and while this top-end model is front-wheel drive only the steering was pleasantly reassuring off the paved road.

Standout looks

The Duster may not be the most attractive new car out there, but its unique styling makes it stand out in a good way and its dimensions offer a great blend between compact crossover and full-blown SUV.

Like most vehicles in its segment, you do have to move the front seats a bit forward if you want adult passengers at the back but where the Duster really shines is with its sizeable boot.

Over the weekend I was tasked with restocking my house like it hasn’t been restocked in years, and with shopping list in hand the Duster and I headed to Makro.

Emerging victorious a few hours later meant I now had two stacked trolleys to get home, and if I was in any other crossover I might not have been able to get into the driver’s seat again. 

This easy-going practicality was one of the biggest draws of the old Duster, and I’m glad to report the new one continues the tradition only in a much more modern package.

Well-chosen amenities

In this top-of-the-line Intens spec, the Duster still keeps its rugged appeal but brings a few welcome niceties aimed at making your daily life a bit easier.

This includes super-responsive keyless entry and start, a leather multifunction steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, and a 360-degree camera system – these last two being rather rare sightings on cars in this price bracket.

Across the line-up you also get an 8-inch infotainment display with wireless smartphone mirroring operated not through buttons on the steering wheel but rather a stalk behind it.

I didn’t expect to be the biggest fan of this stalk at first, but after a few hours, I noticed it operated highly intuitively as if I’ve owned the car for years.

In the same breath, I couldn’t quite figure out why Renault put the Duster’s cruise control activation switch on the transmission tunnel when there are two perfectly good, easily reachable, blank buttons on the steering wheel in between the rest of the cruise control settings. It took me a while to find it and it’s one thing I never got used to.


The Duster’s unique personality made the crossover a joy to live with and its efficiency offered a much-needed break from my weekly visits to the fuel station.

There’s a bit more liberal use of plastic inside than with other R400,000 crossovers on the market, but the Duster brings effortless usability, good power, just enough nice-to-haves, and an individual look making for an overall package that few of its competitors can match.

Renault Duster Intens

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