Renault Duster Review & First Drive

Renault Duster Overview

It was the Renault Duster that had kicked off a storm in the affordable SUV segment in India. Before the Duster arrived, the Mahindra Scorpio and Tata Safari were ruling the roost but Renault clearly knew what the Indian buyer wanted. The Duster became quite a success story and it also established the Renault brand in India. However, it’s been almost 4 years since this SUV was launched and it started feeling very outdated, what with rivals coming up with far more polished vehicles. Renault has now given the Duster a new lease of life so let’s see what we’ve got here. For information on contact details of Renault car dealers in Hyderabad

For price details on Renault Duster check CarzPrice

Renault Duster Design & Style

For starters, the Duster facelift isn’t much different to begin with from the original Duster. You do get blacked out and upgraded headlights that look quite futuristic with it’s distinct cuts and details and a set of new tail lights with a very unique LED lighting pattern. What you also get is a new grille that is better styled than the older one. And then there are the new wheels. Now although some like this blacked out design, we think Renault could have given us a far sportier and slightly larger set of wheels on this new Duster.

You also get a set of silver skid plates on the front and the rear bumper and a chrome exhaust tip that adds to the look. The overall SUV look of the Duster combined with the wide stance are still very much as they are and all these smaller updates actually help accentuate it. Although a little late to the party, the upgrades on the Duster make it look quite nice and modern and personally I prefer the simplistic lines on this car as compared to the over the top design of some other SUVs in its segment. As a final note on the design, we personally love this new and bold orange shade that the Duster now comes in.

Renault Duster Cabin & Comfort

Though Renault has made improvements over the years, the Duster’s cabin has always come across as a bit utilitarian. That feeling has reduced, though still not completely gone, thanks to a fresh round of upgrades on this facelifted version. For starters, the new black and chocolate-brown plastics help cover up the rougher edges better than the lighter tones of the earlier Duster. You’ll also notice more silver highlights and a bit more chrome detailing (on the air-con vents, for instance) that help spruce up the cabin. The centre console also gets a lot more gloss-black plastic. On the whole quality has improved, but it’s still not at Hyundai levels.

The facelifted Duster also gets embossed branding atop the glovebox, but only those very familiar with the earlier Duster’s cabin will note that the layout of the centre console has been slightly revised. The buttons for the hazard lights and door lock now sit higher up and are more convenient to access. On a related note, the mirror controls that were formerly under the handbrake have been moved to the more traditional position near the window switches, which is more practical. However, the cruise control switches are still scattered between the dash and steering, and the steering column-mounted audio controllers continue to remain out of view. The cumbersome driver’s seat height adjust is also something that should have been improved. The seats themselves are trimmed in richer fabrics and the front pair get armrests for added comfort.

Renault Duster Engine & Gearbox

The Duster is offered with two engines, one each of petrol and diesel. Knowing well that the diesel is likely to be the overwhelming choice, Renault India is offering the engine in two states of tune. Of course, the engine here is the now familiar 1.5L K9K dCi engine, which is shared by quite a few cars from the brand. The variant with the higher state of tune features this 1,461cc diesel engine with a variable geometry turbocharger and an intercooler, which together bump up the peak power to 110PS, which is available from about 3,900 rpm. Peak torque of 248Nm is delivered at a bit delayed 2,250 rpm. Just like the numbers indicate, the engine starts delivering decent levels of pulling power to the front wheels only after the needle crosses the 1,500 rpm level.

I drove this version of the Duster only and though I felt the turbo lag a bit more due to the hilly terrain that I was testing it out in, buyers who will be mostly driving it in urban conditions will probably not miss more torque in lower end of the rpm band. This 110PS variant is mated to a six-speed gearbox with a very sedan-like short throw, slick shifting gear stick. The same common rail direct injection engine is also offered with a lower tune state. Here the engine produces 85PS of power at 3,750 rpm and peak torque output is 200Nm at 1,900rpm.

Going by the stats, this engine could be the one that is more suited to urban driving conditions, with more lower end torque and possibly more fuel efficiency too. This could be the version that rakes in the most numbers, since most city buyers should be satisfied with this level of performance. Both the diesel variants offer the best performance when the engine is kept within a 2,000 to 3,500 rpm band.

The petrol engine on offer is the Renault 1.6 K4M engine. The 1,598cc engine produces 104PS of peak power at 5,850 rpm and 145Nm of peak torque at 3,750 rpm. The petrol engine version and the 85PS diesel version are both paired with a 5-speed gearbox. The Duster is not being offered with a four-wheel drive option, though it is available in other markets.

Renault Duster Driving Dynamics

Ride quality of the Duster is also a big plus. The monocoque construction, the rigid chassis and a good match in the 215/65 R16 tyres give the Duster confident handling characteristics on the highway and winding hill roads. The suspension set up includes anti-roll bars at the front and the rear. Though very bad roads momentarily seem to leave the Duster a bit unsettled, the suspension does an excellent job of soaking up most of the challenges that regular roads throw at it. Some amount of road and wind noise seeped into the cabin in the RxL variant I was driving, but that could be a one-off. The noise was absent in the RxZ variant I drove later and I am also told by Renault engineers that considerable work has been done on insulating the cabin.

Renault Duster Safety & Security

The New Renault Duster AMT gets safety features like ABS & EBD, along with brake assist function. There is ESP and hill-start assist too, as well as dual air-bags at the front. It also has central locking, speed sensitive door locking and driver seat belt warning. The New Renault Duster AMT is fairly feature loaded.

Renault Duster Cost in Chennai

Renault Duster Ex-Showroom Price in Chennai ranges from 8,55,702/- (Duster RxE Petrol) to 13,80,549/- (Duster RxZ Diesel 110PS 4×2 MT). Get best offers for Renault Duster from Renault Dealers in Chennai. Check for Duster price in Chennai at Carzprice

Renault Duster Conclusion

The Renault Duster has now got a new lease of life with so many significant updates. It looks younger, gets more appeal and also comes with the convenience of an AMT gearbox. Sure, it lacks the finesse of its direct rival, the Hyundai Creta, but otherwise it is very fun to drive and power is in abundance too. The Renault Duster has positioned itself as a very strong product in the affordable SUV space and with all these enhancements, the vehicle has just improved its own standing in the market.

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