Renault Duster – the Reprieve Review

It’s a big seller for Renault, but we didn’t like it first time out. Were we wrong? Time for another take

By Fraser Martin

Renault Duster 4x2

There has been a lot of chatter about the Renault Duster – we’ve had a bit of fun on radio (listen to us on Jame’s Piecowye’s Nightline show, Cartalk, on Dubai Eye, 103.8FM on Monday nights at 9pm) and on these pages over the months, and Imthishan has reviewed the car already (read that here) – but like any other car we drive, some of us give it the thumbs up and some of us give it the thumbs down.

That’s what ‘an opinion’ is all about, and that’s what we do here at Motoring Middle East: give our opinions, based on our knowledge, our experience, our prejudices, our beliefs and whatever was influencing us on the day. We are neither right nor wrong (though mostly, I am right!) and we sometimes disagree, but readers can disagree as well and that’s what keeps dialogue fresh.

Renault Duster 4x2

So, position statement over for the moment, I think the Renault Duster is rather good! In fact, I think it may be the most honest car I have driven for quite a number of years!

The Duster is not particularly clever; it has no real cunning things about it at all. It is not particularly state-of-the-art: in fact most of the architecture and componentry has been tried and tested on other things long forgotten. It is not crammed with gadgets – the most sophisticated thing about it is probably that it has electric windows in the front.


But do you know what? Despite the four speed gearbox, the slightly unfinished appearance of the sound deadening around the base of the windscreen, the combination but hardly comprehensive instrument panel and the hard plastics around the interior, it is a really good motor that does every single thing you have any right to expect of a car that costs less then Dhs.50,000! The Duster is a real sleeper, in my view.

The test car was two wheel drive, and it was really the four wheel drive I wanted to test (and I will, if there is any fairness left in the world!) but one can easily see why this car is such a success in both formats: long wheelbase, short overhangs, great approach, breakover and departure angles, generous rubber, brilliant ground clearance, loads of space, wide opening doors and the simplest of trim levels that will allow you to hose it out if you manage to get it really grimy!

Renault Duster 4x2

It is a practical working unit, has no frippery or flashy stuff and will just get on with the job of delivering you and anything or anyone else you are carrying, to your destination without any fuss.

The Duster will not waft you along. You won’t be cosseted. You won’t be luxuriously insulated from the outside world and you won’t be the recipient of envious looks.

Renault Duster 4x2

But you will be comfortable, you will be cool (the airconditioner is a stormer, by the way), you will be travelling at a reasonable pace in reasonable economy and you most certainly will get there. It is difficult to work out what more is actually needed to get the job of a car done.

I ran this car for an extended weekend and would have happily kept it for longer because it made me smile every time I got into it, through its sheer simplicity. It did not disappoint at all: it was torquey, it rode well, it could be hustled through corners without too much drama, it was simple to load up and easy to get in and out of.

Renault Duster 4x2

Now we might all want something else – something better, something quieter, something flashier or indeed something with a bit of street cred or a well known badge. But the Duster represents clearly the fundamental difference between need and want: it may not be all you want (though you’d be hard pressed to get much more for your 50K), but the Renault Duster does everything it should.

There have been cars at my door, over other weekends, which have cost 20 times what this Renault costs but they have not, in a million years, been 20 times the fun! It might be a bit back to basics, but the Duster is, at the back to basics level, all you need.

Renault Duster 4x2

Renault Duster
Price: AED 49,900 ($13.5k)
Engine: 1998cc four-cylinder, 135bhp @ 5500rpm, 144lb ft @ 3750rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 10.4seconds, 177kph, 7.8L/100km
Transmission: four-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Weight: 1205kg

Duster for you? Yes or no? Tell us below

2 responses to “Renault Duster – the Reprieve Review”

  1. PK Balan says:

    I would like to buy one,

  2. fouzad says:

    i ready to buy 1 but who are the dealers in uae??

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