Renault Duster: The Lone Ranger
Just a few days back, Ford shocked everyone by announcing the prices of the most anticipated SUV of the country, the EcoSport. At Rs.5.59 lakhs (Ex-Showroom Delhi), the EcoSport has been termed as the real game changer for Ford.
At such an aggressive pricing, the EcoSport does not only set a new benchmark but also makes it difficult for other vehicles. For the first time in India, an SUV has been priced so lucratively that it does not only challenge its own segment but takes on other segments too.
Renault Duster was the first to start the compact SUV trend in India. It managed to floor everyone with its masculine looks and robust drive feel. Immediately after its launch, it transformed Renault’s image in India. The company has sold close to 60,000 units.
The Duster however was not priced very lucratively. This got highlighted after the EcoSport was launched. With tons of features and better affordability, the EcoSport seems to have it all. Does this bring dark clouds on Duster or will it outshine against all odds is what we find out in our detailed review.
The Renault Duster has always fascinated me with its looks. Its short stance, wide body proportions and muscles all over make the Duster a very well proportioned SUV. Even the sight of a Duster overtaking makes it look stylish as it has an interesting hump in its design.
The Renault Duster looks matured and old school. It does not have snazzy lines flowing around but instead it looks carved with dollops of muscle. This one appeals to the serious SUV lovers and strikes a superb note with them. The EcoSport comparatively looks modern and urban but then it feels lighter than the Duster.
The front hood sits tall with a characteristic line running on it. Front headlamps are the twin barrel type and the lighting provided is very adequate. The radiator grille is garnished well with chrome. The lower lip of the front bumper reminds of the Koleos and also has a high point starting splash guard, which is effective while taking it on off terrain.
It has got a very prominent shoulder line and what gives it a real SUV feel are the flared wheel arches. The 5 spoke 16 inch alloys fit really well. A ground clearance of 205mm along with the 30 degree approach angle and 35 degree departure angle make the Duster stand really tall. However, the Duster is not as tall to other SUVs which work to its own benefit.
The low slung styling of the Duster really works for me. The front face has grand chrome garnish of a radiator grille while on the rear section, the glamour is less and character is more. The shoulder lines look nicely accentuated with the broad wheel flairs flowing all over.
If you have managed to get yourself inside the EcoSport, then the Duster would look dated. The plastic quality may not be top notch in the EcoSport but it surely looks modern and upbeat. The design is way much better than the one in Duster.
The design and the digits of the speedometer and the tachometer may not be very exciting but then they do manage to do the job with a small MID display showing the quintessential. It has a very simple appeal and is very well distributed all throughout the display unlike a big mess in the XUV500. A small point that was observed during the drive was the turn indicators on the speedometer were not too bright to make one realize which side turn light he was showing.
The beige dual tone interiors of the Renault Duster make it feel very roomy inside. The central console has an integrated music system with Bluetooth and USB plug in option. Touch and feel of the buttons are very nice. The Central Lock/Unlock button takes little time as it is a tiny button situated on the left bottom of the console. The display of the entertainment system has been kept very basic and intentionally so as to have a simple approach for all. There are not too many options crowding it which is good.
Comparatively, the EcoSport gets modern ebony and sliver interiors. A steering mounted control which also offers an optional voice assist system. The instrumental cluster looks very modern and dynamic with its racy digits and colour combo.
The Duster has 8 way manually adjustable seats with adjustable lumbar support. Even though it feels like a sedan but then the seating position is very tall. They are very comfortable with adequate bolstering and support for under thighs. After driving the Duster on all sorts of terrain, we are not even little bit tired so the fatigue levels are very low. The headroom is generous throughout the cabin, the legroom is great for the front row of passengers but then taller people (6 feet and above) may find it a little cramped in the rear. The 475 litres of Boot space came in very handy during our shoots as it kep gulping down anything and everything we threw in it.
To take on competition, the Duster needs to upgrade its interiors first because that scores strong low points. On the positive part, the Duster feels roomier compared to the EcoSport.
The Renault Duster comes in both petrol and diesel engine trims. The petrol unit remains a mystery as we have never been able to find one, let alone driving it. The diesel engine which finds its way in maximum Renault Nissan products is a fantastic performer. The K9K diesel engine can win “The best engine in a supporting role” award for its contribution in so many models.
The Duster does not look aggressive and cut edge but instead it chooses to be relaxed and matured in approach. The driver position is tall. It looks very well planted on those macho wheel flares. Renault does not position this as a hard core SUV but then it chooses to place it above sedans and hatches.
It has a decent ground clearance to take on undulations with ease. In fact, there was an episode when we were caught in Mumbai rains. The Duster performed exceedingly well in it. One thing that really impresses me about this French offering is it pours in power in right proportions.
It will not pull you back with its insane power output nor will it leave you crawling on streets. There is no lag of any sort. Get yourself locked in any corner and getting out is just a down shift away. The steering wheel feels light which is great maneuvering away from tight spots but then on highways and at great speeds it shudders.
The 215/65 R16 Tubeless tyres are not very gripping at high speeds and tend to loose on traction during cornering. Even though it is not meant to perform off road, when tried pushing it manages to get the car out.
The suspension and ride quality is impressive. The ride quality is inclined more towards the soft setup. The brakes got worn out pretty fast which was surprising and by the end of our review; it lost all its bite. Except for minor issues, the Duster impressed us with its mighty performance. It may not be an apple to apple comparison if the K9K is compared with the EcoBoost engine in EcoSport but then in terms of pure drive pleasure, the Duster score more points.
Also, something with which we were mighty impressed was the 24x7 Roadside assistance service. There was a minor setback which we went through when the vehicle refused to start. We took our chances by calling the Emergency Assist. The executive claimed that the engineers would reach in the next 40 mins, surprisingly they reached in 25.There is also a follow up call which happens post the assist. We are thoroughly impressed with this.
The Dutser’s performance is top notch and will always appeal to the one who believe in driving more than being driven around. The drive quality aspires confidence.
|Variant||RXz 110 PS|
|Ex Showroom Price Mumbai||1146072|
|Engine type||1.5 dCi K9K THP|
|Power in PS/RPM||110/3900|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||248/2250|
|Boot space in Litres||475|
|Gross weight (kgs)||1781|
|Fuel Tank capacity in Liters||50|
|Dual Front Airbags||NO||Optional||Yes|
|Rear Wiper and washer||No||Yes||Yes|
|Front Fog lamps||No||Yes||Yes|
|Seat Fabric Upholstery||Classic Black||Trendy beige||Premium Beige|
|AC with Heater||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear AC independent control||NO||No||Yes|
|Tilt steering column||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electrically adjustable ORVM||NO||Yes||Yes|
|Integrated 2DIN Audio||NO||Yes||Yes|
|Steering mounted audio control||NO||Yes||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||RXZ 110 PS||W8 AWD||VX||VLX|
|Ex showroom price Bangalore (Rs.)||1146072||1403205||1255812||1042588|
|Cubic capacity (cc)||1461||2179||2179||2179/4|
|Power in PS/RPM||110/3900||140/3750||140/4000||120/4000|
|Torque in NM/RPM||248/2250||330/2800||320/2700||290/2800|
|Turning circle radius||5.2||5.6M||5.6||5|
|Fuel Tank in Liters||50||70||65||60|
|Seating||7 Seater||8 Seater||7 Seater||7Seater|
|Mileage in KMPL||19||12||12||14|
|Rear Wash and wiper||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Digital Drive Assist system||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile charging point||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Flat bed seat||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Arm rest for driver and co driver||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Height adjustable driver seat||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Intellipark reverse assist||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Surround cool dual AC||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2-DIN Audio system||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The Duster is more of a Nokia, if the EcoSport is a Samung. It looks very modern and urban. The interior design and features of the EcoSport is what truly amazed all. Also, the bunch of features such as SYNC and Emergency Assist is unparallel.
Renault cars on the other side have not been feature rich. They have lagged in terms of it. But then nor does the company position it in that way. The unique selling proposition of the Duster is its drive quality. This is not a proper off roader but even then it can surprise all with its potential.
The EcoSport will eat on Duster’s market position is the shout of the season especially since it’s priced so lucratively. However, the other side of the story is Ford has preferably positioned it against sedans and hatches. At Rs.5.59 lakhs, it is off to a fantastic start and hopefully the momentum would be strong for a long time.
As for the Lone Ranger, these are one of the testing times. The Duster sure has all that it takes to take on competition. It is not one of those who would fade out easily.