Renault Duster Review
Best Compact SUVWednesday, October 23, 2013
With its continuous growth in population, India has become the world’s second fastest growing automotive industry. Auto giants from all over the world are eying our Indian car market. People here are now ready to accept new things, they are ready for change. Renault, the French car maker also knows the importance of Indian market. That’s the reason why they are coming up with their new models and urging people to drive the change. Their new offering, Duster will create a new segment of cars here in India. After the failure of Logan in India, Renault decided to change their strategies here and now they are targeting a new segment of buyers who are willing to have compact SUV, which can fit well in city’s traffic and give them the true feeling of a SUV.
The Duster was officially launched in 2009 and became available for sale in Europe in 2010. It was also launched in Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria under Dacia’s emblem. It is based on the Logan platform with a total length of 4.31 meters and an overall width of 1.82 meters. With its size and high ground clearance of 205 mm, the Duster is ideal for city roads and unpaved terrain. It consists of a true 4x4 SUV feature with a rugged front and a strong appearance. Before it was first launched, the Renault Duster had gone through a series of aggressive tests for almost all kinds of terrain around the world. Together with the team at Dacia, they have made a current addition to the SUV line-up in the Indian market.
It’s the first car in this segment and soon there will be others joining it like Ford’s EcoSport and Maruti Suzuki’s XA alpha. With continuous rise in petrol prices, Indians are now heading towards diesel cars and they are spending more money than ever. Renault knew it and they have launched their Duster on the right time for those who want something big but not sedan. Renault is very much relying on this car as their earlier launched cars like Fluence and Koleos till now have not succeeded here. Renault is playing a big gamble with this car in India as people here even don’t know about this segment of cars. This car has to do much more than creating awareness. Will it be able to establish Renault in India or will it be another failure? Let’s find out more about this Compact SUV.
Undoubtedly, the car does look like a complete SUV. It stands tall and handsome giving a macho look. People may find Renault Duster similar to Koleos but I wonder how many people even know about Koleos. Duster is based on Logan’s extended platform. It’s good for those who are bored of regular Safari and Scorpio; it is something good for change. Let’s start from the front, the car looks very distinctive but may remind you of Hyundai’s discontinued Tucson. The big bulging three layered, chrome plated strips with a big Renault logo on it fits well with nearly square shaped double barrel headlamps. Headlights could have been better as they look quite old in terms of styling. The Indian version of Duster lacks body colour bumpers as earlier shown in Auto expo 2012. The Renault Duster is more than 4 meters long and almost 2 meters wide.
Rather it comes in black finish with round shaped fog lights. The front does look good in comparison to rear but it has some room for improvement. Huge wheel arches merges well in both front and rear bumpers, strong characteristic side line through the body. Running boards on both sides with smart roof rails make Renault Duster look like a big SUV. There is very much usage of chrome on this car and its quite visible. The side profile of the Renault also enhances the SUV’s appearance with its many interesting contours. It has a sharply cut beltline, wing mirrors, handles in the same color as the body, and a visible fuel lid. The rear windows are complimented by a sleek quarter glass panel on either side. The side view also has striking wheel arches that are seamed prominently. The rear of this car is something which majority of people may not like. However, rear bumper is well finished with chrome finish on exhaust pipe mated with reflective lights. Tail lights with overall appearance of boot are not soothing. The SUV character goes missing at the back. There is a big chrome plate just above the number plate sporting duster on it. It looks like as if things have not been blended together. The car for me looks best when seen from either side, reason being those big arches with chrome alloys along with quarter glass placed before C- pillar clearly states the SUV characteristics of this car.
Renault Duster offers dual tone interiors in beige and black colour. It’s wide enough for comfortable seating of five people. Although some dealers may give you jump in seats for kids at the back, which are just for kids mind you. Driver seat is seven way adjustable with steering available for tilt option. The appearance of interior is similar to that of any sedan; it’s only the vertical central console which makes it look different. Instrument panel is very futuristic within built headlight alarm and on board trip computer. When you sit on the comfortable seats, the car feels high enough and gives you the pleasure of sitting in a premium SUV. Renault has loaded the car with lots of features so that people find their every penny worth invested in it. The standard features of car include key-less entry, power windows, power steering, and AC with heater, electric back door release with enough space to carry things with parcel tray at the back and cup and bottle holders on the console.
One may find Renault Duster feel like a hatchback also as the cabin is very much driver oriented. Everything is very close to driver and easily reachable but don’t worry there is enough legroom and head room which differentiates a hatch from SUV. The top model comes with charming beige seat fabric, chrome and metal finishes on door trims and several places. The vertical central console comes with an integrated double din music system with Aux-in port, USB support and Bluetooth connectivity with steering mounted audio and phone controls. For those who will be seating at the back seat, the car comes with rear A.C with blower control and back pocket on front seats to carry papers or essentials. Centre arm rest with cup holder, 12v accessory socket at front and rear with adjustable head rest. To avoid parking problems, the car is enabled with reverse parking sensors with electrically adjustable outside mirrors. There are several other features like lumbar support for driver seat height adjustment, map pockets on front doors, etc. Renault has tried to give all the possible features which a car at this price deserves. I wish if it had a reverse parking camera, which would have been a plus point for this car. The plastic quality and the other material used inside feel much more superior to what we are habitual of seeing in our Indian SUV's. Keeping its price in mind, Renault has made a fine effort to make Duster’s interior look as classy as possible.
Comfort and Convenience
The Renault Duster provides the comfort of a sedan and delivers skill fully as an off roader. Its comfort and convenience can never be underestimated, take for instance its spacious interiors that are well balanced with the windows framing the views outside. Its 8 way adjustable driver seat provides great comfort for drivers on a long journey. Its tilt steering lets you choose the most comfortable driving position. Even its rear AC vents with individual controls provide added convenience for rear seat passengers. The Renault Duster’s comfortable interior is provided thanks to its premium seats. It appears to have nice leg room, head room and shoulder room for added comfort. It also provides a sufficient space in the rear for storing luggage which makes the car ideal for long drives and tours.
Its manual air conditioning with climate control is an added benefit. The vehicle is capable of holding 5 passengers and has an approximate boot space of 475 liters that makes it both practical and functional. Other comfort features included are keyless entry, steering column with multiple positions due to the tilt feature, an accessory socket using 12V for the front passengers, alarm to remind you the headlight is on, back pocket on the front seat, double cup holders, bottle holder on the central console, an adaptable rear package shelf with storage space, a vanity mirror for the passenger, a digital clock, theatre dimming inner lights with answer back functionalities to find the keys if they are misplaced and trunk room lamp. Overall, the Duster is designed to meet the different comfort and convenience expectations of drivers and their families with its versatile set of features and equipment.
The 2DIN Audio system is incorporated into the central console and does its duty very well in the Duster SUV. It looks classy with its Bluetooth and aux input support. It also includes AM/FM, CD and MP3 player with USB port, 4 speakers and remote control functions.
Engine and Gearbox
Renault has chosen one each of petrol and diesel engine for Indian version of Duster. First let’s talk about the petrol engine. The 1.6 K4M petrol engine comes with a maximum power of 100.6 bhp at 5850 rpm and 145 NM of torque coming at 3750 rpm. The power is sufficient as the vehicle weighs only 1310kg but I wonder If Indians; who prefer mileage over anything will go for this version or not. This motor is not that fast either to attract buyers as there are many other sedans available at this price like Honda city, Hyundai Verna which are much faster and fuel efficient in comparison to this car. Renault also knows it and that’s why they have got the diesel version in two forms. Duster comes with two states of diesel engine, tuned differently to serve different purposes.
Renault understands the slant of Indian consumers towards diesel engines. They know if this car succeeds, majority of the contribution to the sales record will be from the diesel version. Renault has tuned one version to give good fuel efficiency while the other is for enthusiasts. The familiar 1.5dci K9K engine is doing duty on this car like other cars of this brand. This engine targets two different consumers. For those looking for fuel efficiency, it produces 85 PS of power at 3750 rpm with a maximum torque output of 200 NM coming at 1900 rpm. This engine is mated with five speed manual gearbox like the petrol version. Renault relies very much on this version as they hope it to be the most successful variant offered in Duster. The early availability of torque makes this version more fuel efficient and more responsive at lower speed as it reduces frequent gear shifting providing enough power in low-mid range. It’s especially tune for city commuters who want adequate power with mileage similar to that of any diesel hatch.
Renault has also taken care of those who want something more than fuel efficiency. The other version of this diesel engine produces a peak power of 110 PS at 3900 rpm with torque output coming a bit late nearly at b. With this engine highway cruising is surely a pleasure but city driving is not that pleasant. This engine of Renault Duster 110 PS is mated with 6 speed manual gearbox. Although, gear shifting is very smooth but there is major turbo lag. It’s only after 1700 rpm that engine starts to respond. After that till 4000 rpm its butter smooth but it will take you time to reach there. This engine is not as responsive as Mahindra’s XUV500 but surely much more refined than Tata’s Safari and Mahindra’s Scorpio.
Ride and Handling
This is the department where surely Renault Duster is a winner. Its monocoque design enables this car to handle like a hatch in the city and like a muscular SUV on highways. Its steering fits really well in hands and the way it handles in city traffic with a minimum turning radius of 5.2m, it leaves you with a smile on your face. The car feels very well proportionate .Be it high speed cornering or cruising on highways, the car always seem to be under control. Its ample wheelbase (2673mm) along with R16size of tubeless tyres firmly holds the road and gives you a convenient ride. Its suspension is specially designed for Indian roads. It swallows even the worst potholes on roads. Renault has not offered the 4x4 version on duster. Yet its massive ground clearance of 205mm with well suited suspension makes it a very good off roader. This is the biggest advantage of this car over sedans. One can drive this car on almost every terrain with ease. Renault has tried its best to keep your ride safe in this car. The car comes with dual front airbags, with an important feature like impact sensing door unlock .The car also comes with rear washer, wiper and defogger to enhance the ride quality of this high stance vehicle.
The new Renault Duster seems to be one of the safest SUVs. Since it is the first SUV in India, Renault has put a lot of effort – in regards to safety measures – in order to grab the Indian market. It has a lot of ground clearance and as such its high seating position allows you to get a better view of the road. The car’s safety features include an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Emergency Brake Assist, an Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), a stability control module, an impact sensing door unlock feature and an engine protective under guard. Other features are front fog lamps and a rear de-fogger that helps you to have better visibility even on dark roads in wet and cold climates and times. There are also two front airbags for the driver and the front passenger and a three-point seatbelt system that adds to the security measures of the vehicle. Both the active and passive safety features of the SUV are designed to provide top-notch security ensuring every drive is totally safe.
Braking and Fuel Efficiency
Renault has done relatively well than its competitors in this department. The braking system of Duster feels very good. It’s capable to stop the car whenever you want it. The car comes with ventilated disks at front and drum brakes at the back. The top model also features ABS, EBD with brake assist to avoid maximum risks while driving. Fuel efficiency is also a major concern, especially for petrol version. It manages to deliver only9-10kmpl which is surely going to burn your pockets. Diesel on the other hand is what we all are eying. The car (85bhp) will return around16-18 kmpl which is similar to that of any hatch; whereas the other version (110bhp) should be able to give something around 14-16 kmpl.
Reasons to Buy
It is currently the most affordable SUV and by all indications the best in its segment. It has excellent sporty and masculine exteriors, comfortable and convenient interiors, provides driving pleasure and has a large amount of safety features.
Value For Money
The quality might not be the best for some and the features list may not seem to be very long for some either, but what it offers is the large SUV look coupled with massive interior space for five and low running costs, making it of incredible value. It is considered as one of the most affordable SUV’s. This setup is alike most hatchbacks and the advantage of the same is its simple construction and significant cost savings.
The RxL variant of Renault Duster 85PS also comes with optional package which comes host of features including dual SRS airbags, ABS, EBD, driver sear belt reminder, impact sensing door unlock, speed sensing door lock, sporty aluminum alloy wheels, reverse parking sensors and brake assist. The top-model comes fully loaded with these features: Stylish Chrome grille, Twin barrel headlamps, 16” Alloy Wheels, Front Fog Lamps, Rear Defogger, rear wiper & washer, Electrically adjustable ORVMs, Rear parking sensors, Key-less entry, ABS with Brake Assist & EBD, Dual front Airbags, Plush Leather Upholstery, 4 Speaker Music System, USB, AUX-IN & Bluetooth Connectivity and GPS Navigation.
Renault Duster is available in six shades: Metallic Woodland Brown, Metallic Fiery Red, Pearl Supreme White, Metallic Moonlight Silver, Pearl Galaxy Black and Metallic Graphite Grey.
Renault has made a strong statement by this car. Duster comes in six shades with a warranty of two year/50000km.This car is stylish, comfortable, and easy to handle with all essential features to provide optimum comfort. With high class interiors, very refined and fuel efficient engine it has the potential to be the best in a segment which it’s going to create. This car has all the qualities which make it a perfect city car. Renault who is yet to mark its presence in India, should have had place this car below its competitor’s. Had it been priced smartly it would have even attracted the buyers of premium entry-level sedans. This is a big step from Renault and the time will tell if people are ready to drive the change or not.