Renault Duster is a one-of-its-kind vehicle introduced by Renault at the Indian Auto Expo 2012. It created a lot of buzz among people as the compact SUV segment wasn’t still introduced then. Renault designed it by combining the concepts of SUV and Sedan. On one hand, it had the comfort level and interior spaciousness of a sedan; on the other hand, it possessed the external appearance and ground clearance of a SUV.
Renault Duster was finally on sale in India by July 2012, and much to Renault’s delight it turned out to be a golden product. It was offered with both petrol and diesel fuel trims with a total of three engine options – two for diesel variants while one for petrol ones. Based on the Logan platform, it measures slightly more than 4 meters, which makes it both spacious and easy to drive on narrow roads. To be more precise, it measures 4.31 meters in length and 1.81 meters in width. The company has offered this compact SUV with as many as 10 variants. There are 8 variants presented with diesel fuel trim while two variants are available in petrol. The biggest attention seeker is the whopping 305mm ground clearance which in accordance with the suspension system sustains on almost any kind of terrain.
The diesel variants of this exquisite SUV are classified in two different power output categories. Four variants lie in each category on the basis of difference in power produced. Although the engine remains the same, it has been tweaked in such a way that it comes up with two different power outputs. The 4-cylinder, 16-valve, 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine belts out a maximum powers of 83.8bhp at 3750rpm and 108.5bhp at 3900rpm. The torque figures also differ as the former generates 200Nm at 1900rpm while the latter produces 248Nm at 2250rpm. The 85 PS variants are coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, whereas the 110 PS variants are mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The interior of the car accommodates five passengers comfortably, though one can also fit two jumper seats at the rear to make it a 2+3+2 vehicle. With five seats, it leaves an enormous boot space of 475 litres. There is no scarcity of head, leg, and shoulder room either. Additionally, Renault has kept the luxury factor high this time too, like its other vehicles. It has incorporated an integrated 2DIN Audio (CD/MP3/AM/FM) Player compatible with USB, Aux-in & Bluetooth along with four speakers so that music lovers don't feel left out. The top-end Duster variants also feature steering mounted audio controls, A/C Vents and Navigation System, providing convenience to the occupants as well as driver.
The Renault Duster comes in seven premium colors - Cosmos Blue, Metallic Graphite Grey, Metallic Woodland Brown, Pearl Supreme White, Metallic Moonlight Silver, Metallic Fiery Red, and Pearl Galaxy Black. Other top-notch safety features offered with the car are engine immobilizer, door open warning lamp, central locking, Anti-lock Braking System, Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, stability control module, two front airbags and three-point seatbelt tensioners. This is an indication of Renault's vision and attitude towards the safety of the people traveling inside the vehicle.
Renault Duster had been the top-selling product of its league until Ford launched its much anticipated EcoSport Compact SUV in the market at a lucrative price. Later the segment was joined by Nissan Terrano, another compact SUV by Renault's global strategic partner Nissan. Other vehicles in competition on the basis of price are Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, Tata Safari, Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Quanto etc.
The French-auto giant has carefully designed the exteriors of this compact SUV, which is reflected well by sporty and rugged appearance. The front is being occupied by a wider chrome grille with Renault logo assembled in the middle. The execution of chrome is carried out well in accordance with two barrel headlamps. Fog lamps are also there to enhance the looks as well as to increase the visibility in inclement weather conditions. The sporty roof rail adds more glamour to the SUV.
The double toned front bumper is also a new addition to the SUV. Most importantly, the air-dam is being fixed with a skid plate. The electrically operated outside rear view mirrors along with attractive door handles are noteworthy. The roof-antenna also helps in lowering down the noise in the frequency of FM radio. Renault's out-of-the-box exterior design has lured numerous buyers and continued to do so even after the launch of the Ford EcoSport. And now when the company is ready to bring in the mid-life facelift version of Renault Duster, which has gone through cosmetic updates both inside and out, we expect the Duster will do even better in future. The weight of this compact SUV is 1235 kgs and it has a wheelbase of 2673mm. It is equipped with 16 inch alloy wheels which are further combined with tubeless tyres of size 215/65o R16. The wheel covers and anti-theft key further helps in making it a picture perfect SUV.
Renault has designed its interiors according to the taste of the Indian sub-continent, unlike the overseas market where it is sold as Dacia Duster with different interiors. The company has tailored itself quite well to the Indian conditions and has read the minds of Indian customers exceptionally well. It has incorporated the lumbar support and height adjustable feature in the front seats for the sake of comfort of driver and co-passenger. The rear seats have ample space and it is possible only because of the extended wheelbase, as said earlier.
The dashboard is presented with glossy black piano theme and the glove box size is also quite decent. The clothing is done in premium beige with which leather pack is also on offer. Moreover, leather strapped steering wheel and gear knob just make it more premium and plush. The air-conditioner with climate control feature along with rear A/C vents take the comfort factor to a whole new level. Apart from aforementioned features, 12V charging sockets at the front and rear seats, rear centre arm-rest with cup holders, reverse parking sensors, all power windows etc. add more to its convenience. In all, Renault hasn't left any stone unturned to make it a completely plush paradise.
Engine & Transmission
Renault Duster comes in both petrol and diesel fuel trims with a total of 10 variants. The number of diesel variants is 8 and they are bisected in two categories. The 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valve K9K diesel engine is same in all the variants but it offers two power output figures: 85PS and 110 PS. On one hand, it generates a decent power of 83.8 bhp at 3750rpm with a maximum torque of 200Nm at 1900rpm, in top-end variants, it is capable to churn out a maximum power ouptout of 108.5 bhp at 3900rpm and a peak torque of 248Nm at 2250rpm. The former comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox for the better fuel efficiency and performance, while the latter one is coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission for brisk acceleration and top speed.
As compared to the 110 PS variants, the 85 PS ones are more compatible for city driving, and torque factor can make you feel the same. The petrol variants are offered with a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valve in-line engine and they produce a reasonably well power output of 102.6bhp at 5850rpm and a maximum torque of 145Nm at 3750rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission for a greater mileage and pick-up.
Performance & Handling
The 85 PS diesel engine produces lesser power than the 110 PS version. This doesn't mean that it is a worse performer. It touches the 100kmph mark from the standstill in a decent 13.9 seconds with a top speed of 156kmph. The more powerful 110 PS engine touches the 0-100 kmph mark in just 12.5 seconds and possesses a top speed of 168kmph. All these figures clearly reflect the agility and tenacity of the diesel engine. The petrol engine exceeds the acceleration figures of both the diesel engines and emerges triumphant as it delivers a top speed of 160kmph. Furthermore, it touches the 100kmph mark in a mere 11.5 seconds without hampering the performance and fuel economy. For city driving, the 85 PS diesel variants perform quite well as compared to the 110 PS ones; the reason being it delivers exceptionally well on lower revolutions. The handling quotient has won several awards for Duster as it can be driven around the city roads effortlessly. The petrol variants are comprised with hydraulic power assisted steering wheel which in turn functions quite effectively, while the diesel ones have electro hydraulic power assisted steering that makes it a first-choice even for narrow and small muddy roads.
Renault has given a special emphasis on the braking system, making it a very safe vehicle to drive in almost all the conditions. Renault Duster has an all new all hydraulically operated diagonal split dual circuit braking system. As a part of this system, the front brakes are disc brakes, while the rear ones are drum brakes. Apart from the brakes, what contributes to a larger extent is the suspension system. It has independent Macpherson strut with coil springs and anti-roll bar as front suspension. Rear suspension is a deflected torsion beam axle with coil-springs and anti-roll bar. They work effectively and one doesn't feel the small hiccups.
Mileage is the foremost aspect that is looked upon by the customer while purchasing a vehicle in India. Renault has blended the engine and transmission quite well and as a subsequent result of it, the mileage is quite impressive. Renault Duster petrol variants return a mileage of 13.24kmpl on highways, but it differs a bit on city roads as it goes slightly down to 10.5kmpl. Both the diesel variants, the 110 PS and 85 PS, capitalize on this quotient comparatively well as they come up with a fuel economy of 19.01kmpl and 20.46kmpl, respectively on highways. On city roads too, they perform well as they give a mileage of around 15kmpl.
Renault Duster possesses all the top-notch premium safety features available today. The company has backed it claim by including exquisite features such as Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Emergency Brake Assist (EBD), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Stability Control Module, impact sensing door unlock, engine protective under guard, front fog lamps, and rear de-fogger etc. What strengthens its claim is the inclusion of dual front SRS airbags that are crucial in the case of a collision. In addition to all this, three-point seat-belt pre-tensioners act pretty well during jerks. Seeing all these premium safety features under one roof, it can be coined that Renault Duster is one of the safest vehicles present in the Indian market today at this price.
Renault Duster is an evolutionary product from the French auto giant and it has turned the compact SUV segment upside down. Though, India is a new shore to this segment, the Duster with its charming looks and impressive performance has attracted many buyers. The segment was later joined by Ford Eco Sport that being more compact in size at a much lesser price attracts different buyers. With over 4 metre length, multiple engine options, competitive pricing, spaciousness and ride quality, the Duster is a great value for money product.
Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport
Ford EcoSport is considered to be the closest rival of the Renault Duster in India, though it’s more compact and is cheaper. What makes them close rivals is their body style, both are compact SUVs. Available in several engine options, both the Duster and EcoSport have so many variants to offer to their buyers, according to their budget. While the Duster has three engine options 1.5-litre 85 PS (83.8bhp) diesel, 1.5-litre 110 PS (108.5bhp) diesel and 1.6-litre 103bhp petrol; the EcoSport on the other hand has two petrol engine options- 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder EcoBoost 123.4bhp, 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder Ti-VCT 110bhp and one diesel- `1.5-litre, 4-cylinder DV5 89.8bhp. So, if you are looking for a more powerful and efficient petrol car, then the Ford EcoSport is a better option, but if a more powerful diesel compact SUV is your priority, the Duster is a clear winner. In terms of fuel economy, both the cars score almost equal. In terms of drivability and ride quality as well, both the cars are impressive.
When it comes to spaciousness, the Duster being a bigger car in dimensions offers much more space to its buyers than the EcoSport. Pricing is the one factor on which Ford has been spot-on, as it is priced about Rs 2 lakh cheaper than the Duster.
Renault Duster vs Tata Safari (Old)
Renault Duster's second major competitor in the Indian automobile industry is Tata Safari - an exquisite SUV from country's leading auto-maker Tata Motors. Practically, they do not belong to the same class but as their price and build are similar, hence it is worth comparing them. Both are quite equal on almost every factor but Renault Duster gets an upper hand in pricing and mileage. Even in terms of drivability, both cars are great, though for urban drives it's Duster that takes the lead, while Tata Safari is a car for enthusiasts.
Renault Duster vs Nissan Terrano
Since both the vehicles share the same Logan platform, components and other features, there is not much difference between the two products. However, design is one aspect that differentiates the two cousins. So, in terms of design, we leave it upon the buyer's choice and preferences. Nissan Terrano having more features than the Duster is priced a little higher, though the engine options and other features remain unchanged. The cabin insulation is the one area on which the Nissan has worked really smart, as wheel noise that you feel inside the Duster's cabin is not the case with the Terrano.
Pros & Cons
Extremely spacious inside the cabin, great fuel economy
Limited to 5 occupants, Renault's after sales services