4th time lucky! Renault seems to have got its act together and spot on with its compact SUV, Duster. Their three previous releases Fluence, Kleos and Pulse struggles with poor response but Duster is all set to change their fortunes in Indian market.
Internationally Duster was officially released in 2009 developed by Automobile Dacia S.A. The Romanian car maker, Dacia is a subsidiary of Renault after its acquisition in 1999.
Back to Renault Duster as it is in India, when it was announced for the Indian market, the design did caught on everyone and when the pricing was announced, most agreed it is a potential first blockbuster for the French car maker in India. If the sales story till date are any indication (I was told a figure of 15K plus), the Duster has arrived and here to stay.
Renault Duster Exteriors:
Built on monocoque body like Mahindra XUV 500 and Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, on first look Duster looks sturdy, rough and tough machine but compact. Exteriors especially the front looks very appealing.
Though conservative in design and not flamboyant and overwhelming like XUV 500, the front of Duster nevertheless has an imposing stance thanks to the large headlamps, the wide bodied strongly accentuated wheel arches and the can’t-miss-it to the point of being garish, chrome grille.
The front Front skidplate looks tough but when you know it is made of plastic, you feel cheated. Tough guys need a tough shield.
The front and rear headlamps … The front twin barrel headlamp is appealing with turn indicator stacked on top. The design flows with the wide stand of the front but the same cannot be said about the nondescript small tail lamp, though it is nested neatly in the rear.
The rear is not clearly an exciting stuff and the garish big sized chrome plate screaming the brand name does not work for all and it did not impress me that much here. Having said that the rear is neat, though not very exciting.
One good thing I liked about Duster is it’s 205mm of ground clearance.
Keep in mind Duster is essentially a 5 seater SUV. Though Renault provides with a side-facing, jump seat as an accessory. You get a large boot space of 1064 litre capacity.
Coming to the side profile of Duster, it is pleasing enough complimenting the overall stance of the car, much of the credit goes to the huge wheel arches that adds to the character. Though I have few complaints especially the old-fashioned door handles. Even the way it responds (read: the ‘thud’ sound while closing) does not inspire you. Even the OVRM with its silver coat on prods out odd in its coloring choice.
Interiors of Renault Duster:
Stepping into the Duster you are greeted to a roomy, warm ambience. The overall feeling you get is functional and practical rather than get ‘wowed’, though you might be disappointed by the choice of plastics used. In fact, the demo car we got our hands on already had its A/c vent broken.The cost cutting is quiet evident.
The black, beige & cream colour combination adds to the roominess and brightness to the interiors and quiet pleasing too. While the top variant gets a pleasant, shiny, wooden finishes, the rest of the variants has to settle with piano black finishes along with abundance of chrome.
Except for the basic variant, the others come with music system with 2DIN head-unit with 4 speakers, CD, MP3, USB, AUX & Bluetooth compatibility.
The steering is very practical with a large horn pad… Tilt steering is standard across variants.
The steering mounted audio controls is placed behind the steering wheel and is very intuitive to use. It has all the controls enabling you to choose the media type, radio stations, mute button, phone control etc.
The instrument console is functional and practical and ordinary in looks. The orange lit MID provides for necessary information like average speed, fuel efficiency, distance to empty, liters consumed etc.
As expected the base variant does not include the A/c. While there is no climate control offered even on the top variant. 6 speed transmission in the Duster 110 variant.
The top variant gets a choice of leather upholstery while the rest settle with fabric upholstery. Seating is bit stiff and flat. While the front offers quiet an impressive leg room, the same cannot be said about the rear. The central arm rest has two cup holders. Talking about the holders, the glovebox is illuminated and runs deep. The door has side pockets and there are two cup holders near the gear lever and back pockets behind the seat.
Surprisingly and unfortunately the rear seat does not offer a 60:40 splitting option.
The top variant gets a shiny wooden finish … the side door panel is impressive in look and feel. With apt placement of door controls (though no one touch down function even for the top variant) and deep pockets.
While the other variants gets shiny piano black finish…
Renault Duster Engine options and variants
Renault Duster offers a choice of three engines - two 1.5L diesels and one 1.6L petrol.
Renault Duster Diesel
Though essentially the diesel variants share the same engine, the BHP varies. So you can choose between a The 84 BHP 1.5L diesel engine and a 109 BHP 1.5 L diesel engine. The K9K turbo-charged common-rail diesel is a proven one and offers good fuel efficiency.
The Duster 110 diesel engine provides a 109 BHP @ 3,900 rpm and 248 Nm of max torque @ 2,250 rpm. While the 84 BHP variant churns out 84 BHP @ 3,750 rpm and 200 Nm of max torque @ 1,900 rpm. Forget all this technical numbers, the bottom line is the 85 BHP variant is not to be underestimated either. Thanks to the lower kerb weight, it performs rather well compared to its competitors like scorpio or safari. Though between the two variants, understandably the 110 BHP variant should perform well on highways due to its extra power range. The smaller of the variant also offers a better fuel efficiency.
Renault Duster Petrol
No multiple choices to confuse one here as it comes with one engine – 1598cc, 4-cylinder, Petrol engine delivering 104 PS @5850 rpm, 145 Nm @ 3750 rpm.
Variants of Renault Duster
Renault Duster spoils you with a 3 engine options and 8 variants.
The Petrol engine comes in two variants: Petrol RxE and RxL
The Diesel engines with its 85 PS and 110 PS options comes with 3 variants each.
Diesel 85 PS engine varaints: RxE, RxL, RxL option pack
Diesel 110 PS engine variants: RxL, RxZ, RxZ option pack.
Surprisingly both the petrol variants lack front dual airbags and ABS, EBD.
Ride and Handling of Renault Duster
What is undoubdetedly the highlight of the SUV is the ride quality of the Renault Duster. It effortlessly cruises through our bad roads. It’s a pleasure to ride and even the rear passengers would not complain. The suspension is in one word – awesome. It also has a commendable smaller wheel turning radius. The overall ride is very assuring and commanding. Although, unlike the competing models Renault Duster does not come with an all-wheel drive.
Renault Duster colors
Duster is available in 6 colours – woodland brown, fiery red, supreme white, moonlight silver, galaxy black, graphite grey.
Pricing of Renault Duster
With two diesel engine options and a petrol engine and variants within each Renault covers a wider price range. The base variant of petrol engine starts at Rs. 7,22,792 and the diesel engine (85 BHP) begins at Rs. 8,04,214. The diesel 110 PS variant starts at Rs. 10,07,770
A robust fairly good-looking compact SUV with an impressive drive quality. Though there are shortcomings like the choice of plastics used and being essentially a 5-seater and no four-wheel drive options, no 60:40 split rear seat etc, overall, Duster is a value for money and a game changer for Renault in Indian market. Though Renault seems to have given the petrol variant a raw deal in comparison with the Diesel variants.