Renault Duster Oroch carries over virtues and defects from the SUV: driven and evaluated

With the new surge in pick-ups around the world, even Renault is developing a product for the midsize segment. It will be the production version of the Alaskan, but the French carmaker has not limited its options to this one. In Brazil, it has already developed and is selling the Duster Oroch, a unibody pick-up that is expected to be produced in other parts of the world, such as Romania, under the Dacia badge, Russia and India. While that does not happen, MotorChase can tell you how this pick-up moves around and what is good and bad about it.

Before going into the details, it is worth describing the Brazilian made pick-up for an introduction. The Renault Duster Oroch has been presented in September and it is produced solely in Brazil, so far. But there have been many Duster conversions in Romania. Some of which have been introduced as a Dacia pick-up, but that were clearly other companies’ work. The British magazine Top Gear has even spoken about the Duster Oroch and said it was needed in the UK. In other words, we should see it produced in many other countries besides Brazil. There is potential for an affordable pick-up in most places.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-16

The Oroch is 4.69 m long, what makes it slightly bigger than a Chevrolet Cruze or a Toyota Corolla. It is 1.82 m wide, 1.70 m tall and has a 2.83 m wheelbase, 15 cm more than the one you have in a Duster. It is powered by 2 engine options, both fuel flexible: a 1.6 4-cylinder able to generate 85 kW at 5,750 rpm and 156 Nm at 3,750 rpm and a 2.0 4-cylinder that pumps out 109 kW at 5,750 rpm and 205 Nm at 4,000 rpm on ethanol. When you use petrol, power decreases respectively to 81 kW and 105 kW, respectively. The 1.6 gets a 5-speed manual transmission, while the 2.0 is equipped with a 6-speed manual. The automatic option will be probably released in a few months, as well as the four-wheel drive version.

We have driven the 2.0 Dynamique for a week. And here is our report on this first experience with Renault’s pick-up.

Room for improvements

Renault-Duster-Oroch-9

When it relates to good and bad news, we prefer to start speaking about what the Duster Oroch could improve. Since it is built over the Duster platform, it carries along most of SUV’s problems, such as the awful position of the remote side-view mirrors control, under the hand brake lever. Or the LG MediaNav system, placed in the middle of the central console, in a place where the driver will have to take eyes out of the road to check the navigation maps or the audio system. A dangerous place for traffic safety.

We have not driven the Duster Oroch long enough to check if it also spends too much fuel, but the wind noise in high speeds has not abandoned this ship. This is probably why Renault has decided to create the Kaptur for emerging markets: to serve more demanding customers with a car that looks better and does not present the same ergonomics and finishing issues of the Duster. Over SUV’s platform, to make these improvements cheaper.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-11

Renault-Duster-Oroch-11 Renault-Duster-Oroch-13

Finishing in the Duster Oroch is another unwished-for inheritance from the SUV. The bolt covers from the door handles show that perfectly. While the driver’s is neatly adjusted, the passenger’s is not in place. And it does not stay there even if you try to put it back. This may sound like a minor problem, just like plastics with burrs, but this is the sort of thing that gets you thinking about the care in assembling other pieces of the car, such as a transmission or an engine. Causing a good impression is key for the success of most cars.

What would make you want a Duster Oroch in your garage

This is pretty much all that makes you scratch your head when giving it a thought about buying a Duster Oroch or not. But the strong points of the new pick-up will probably make you consider it as a good option.

The first one is the way the pick-up rides. Its suspension makes it easy to face dirt and gravel roads, as well as asphalt that does not deserve to be called as such, due to potholes and other problems. The Duster Oroch passes over all of these obstacles as if nothing happened. You even have to pay close attention to what is ahead of the car. You tend to build such a confidence that you may tear your tires apart without even noticing they are in risk.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-10

The bed of this unibody pick-up is not as big as the ones you find in midsize body-on-frame competitors, but it is pretty adequate for city use, very roomy (683 l with the bed cover on) and extendable. For most people, it will help in transporting goods for work, in moving furniture from one place to another and even in carrying construction stuff around. Name it. It will be difficult to find something the Duster Oroch would not be able to perform. The bed gate can be locked with the car key, what makes it work almost as a regular trunk. A huge one.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-14

The bed extender, sold as an aftermarket accessory, allow the pick-up to carry a motorcycle or any other object that is 2 m long diagonally. But it is also one of the reasons for the bed gate to be so heavy: it works as the lower extension of the bed. Without the extender, it is 1.17 m wide, 1.35 m long and about 43 cm tall.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-15

The space of the cabin is very similar to the one offered by Duster, which is pretty decent for 5 adults. The cabin starts at the beginning of the rear wheel boxes. In other words, passengers seat ahead of the rear axle, what makes the ride more comfortable. Seating over the rear axle or behind it makes passenger more prone to feel sudden body movements. The rear seats are reasonably tall and give the passengers thighs enough support.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-4

If you have small children, you will miss the Isofix/Latch attachments for child seats. Most Brazilian cars still do not offer them due to cost cutting measures. This is the sort of attitude that lead us to write an article on second class lives. In a Latin NCAP testing, Duster has only achieved 2 out of 5 stars for child protection. This may be another inheritance the Duster Oroch would be willing to avoid.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-7

Performance wise, the Duster Oroch 2.0 is not exactly a fast car, but it is a capable vehicle. We would like to test it fully loaded in order to see how the front-wheel drive pick-up reacts in climbs and over slippery surfaces. It does not offer ESP nor any other sort of electronic assistance other than ABS, a must-have item in Brazilian vehicles since 2014.

But it is when the conversation gets down to price that the new Duster Oroch really presents itself as a very interesting option. Its base version, the 1.6 Expression, costs R$ 64,000, or 15,700 euros or US$ 17,900. The version we have driven costs r$ 72,400, or 17,800 euros or US$ 20,200. In foreign markets, it would be the most affordable pick-up. In Brazil, it makes the car one of the best options in terms of what it offers and what it costs.

Renault-Duster-Oroch-2

The entry-level Duster Oroch is cheaper than the Fiat Strada Adventure CD (Cabine Dupla, or double cab), which costs R$ 69,940. Another contender is the VW Saveiro, recently restyled, in its Cross CD version. It is sold for R$ 69,250. Both of them are small pick-ups, based on B segment cars. They may present stronger engines (Fiat’s uses a 97 kW 1.8 engine, while VW’s also uses a 1.6 engine, but with 88 kW), but are much smaller and less comfortable than the Oroch.

Since most people turn to pick-ups in search for a roomier and more versatile vehicle, one that can be used both to carry the family and to work, the Renault Duster Oroch seems to be a better fit than its smaller competitors. The only one able to threaten it is the new Fiat Toro. And it is already outselling the Renault, but we have to see if this is not a “novelty” effect. And if it keeps on going when both pick-ups become a regular part of the scenery.

 

 

 

 

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.