2014 Renault Duster 4WD Review
It was the Duster that brought the French car maker in prime attention. Renault was among the first to bring in a compact SUV in India. The reasons for Duster’s success can be credited to its macho looks with an equally powerful engine.
Launched in 2012, it was offered in multiple petrol and diesel variants. It was very well accepted and till date does not have an equivalent competition. Renault periodically kept updating it with different versions with the Adventure edition being the best of them all which got rugged additions over the standard version.
No doubt, the Duster is a more capable vehicle in its segment, but still being a front wheel drive doesn’t justify its ‘SUV’ tag completely. Thus, to make the Duster more appealing for enthusiasts, Renault has introduced an all wheel drive version. We decided to get one and do some mud bashing in our first impression report.
In terms of styling, the Duster does not many differentiating factors over its 2WD cousin. There are telltale stickers on the side and a 4WD badge on the rear tail gate. This one also has better ground clearance compared to the standard model.
It gets smoked lights at front and a large chrome radiator grille. The bumper gets a matte black plastic cladding with an aluminium finished bash plate. Thanks to the smaller engine area, it gets a sizeable yet compact hood. There are enough flares on side to make it feel a proper SUV.
There are AWD stickers on the running board area and also post the rear quarter glass. It also gets darkened shade of alloy wheels which look sporty and add a contrasting touch. We are still not convinced with the door handles which are light and delicate to operate. External mirrors have a two tone finish. The B-Pillar has been covered with a black strip and the roof gets muscular roof rails where a storage ramp for cycles can be attached. The bulges on both front and rear wheels make the Duster feel muscular.
Personally, I love the rear quarter view as it displays all the muscular lines flowing and meeting each other universally. More than being called bulky, the Duster can be described as a voluptuous looking SUV – a trademark design seen on all Renault cars.
Other than a tiny 4WD badge slotted below the variant name, there is no way one can make out the difference in both models. It would have been nice to see a larger badge or a sticker just below the rear windshield to get maximum visibility of the version. The RXZ also comes with chrome exhausts, something that will be only a high end feature and not seen on the more affordable versions.
The interiors of the Duster AWD feature new changes but they are still not convincing enough. The overall simple layout of the panel and the cluster feels a bit too bland for its consumers. Renault seriously needs to beef up the interiors to make the Duster feel as strong inside as it feels outside.
Still choosing a lighter shade for the front dashboard over a more premium feeling darker shade, the design lines are similar to the standard version. The Duster AWD gets more features comparatively like the new three pod instrumental cluster. This cluster gets a revamped information display screen which shows gear shift indicator, fuel in tank, average consumption, distance to empty, average speed and trip information.
The new three spoke steering wheel gets controls to operate cruise control only. There is a media rack situated exactly behind this wheel. It is conveniently placed but would have been better if the same was on the wheel itself. The steering wheel however feels nice with sufficient grip. The seats also get new dual tone red and grey fabric.
In terms of comfort, front row seats are comfortable with sufficient cushioning. Driver’s seat gets a mechanical height adjustment which is a nice touch. Knee room is great for front row passengers. The rear section is equally roomy but lacks comfort especially in the rear seat which gets tiring on long journeys. It needs more cushioning as its flat surface is not pleasing.
The quality of knobs and buttons is same. This one however gets more add-ons. First is the iDrive knob which we will explain in the performance section. It has a mechanical switch to kill the ESP and also an Eco mode button which concentrates more towards efficient driving. There is a centrally located multimedia screen which controls Bluetooth telephony, media options, navigation and various other settings. There are USB and Aux-in slots right above the screen. We did expect climate control on this one but seems keeping the price tight was the main reason it was ditched.
I have always maintained my stand on the Duster being the most fun to drive SUV in its segment. The Ecosport as some might consider being more modern does not score as much when it comes to driving engagement. The Duster always exuberates a go-anywhere confidence and with the new 4x4 variant, the same got vindicated.
What make the Duster 4x4 different from standard? Firstly, the standard version can go places where this one can definitely go but this one can go places where the standard can’t. Excusing the humour, the Duster 4x4 is a more capable SUV which can be taken on challenging terrains. Not that it has now transformed into a hard core off-roader like the Mahindra Thar or the Force Gurkha but then its potential to take on hard terrain has increased.
The iDrive technology, which we mentioned earlier, has three different driving modes. The 2WD mode is for full time front wheel drive which is also its default mode. The moment the ignition is killed, it goes back to the 2WD mode. Second is the Auto mode which intelligently keeps a track of the terrain and also on the power needed at both side wheels. While it concentrates its power delivery on front wheels, it also makes sure the rear set gets it too as and when needed. The other mode is a Lock mode which gets power to all four wheels for a limited speed post which it switches to auto mode.
This one uses the same engine as seen on the 110PS version. The 1461cc diesel engine produces a power of 110 PS at 3900 rpm and a torque rating of 248 Nm at 2250 rpm. The Duster AWD will be only offered in 110PS version and not in the lesser powerful 85PS variant due to power limitations. It comes with a 6 speed manual transmission. It is a frequently asked query but even then Renault still has no automatic gearbox to be offered in the Duster.
We have driven it earlier and there was no more convincing left except for minor changes and thankfully they have been sorted in this new one. One no longer has to stress the clutch as it has been lightened. Gear ratios have been altered making the initial ones shorter for a quicker torque throw at the wheels. It is the lower gears which make driving it on all terrain all the way easier.
In City, it proved to be great with more convenient and easy gear changing as we no longer has issues with cramped traffic conditions because the manoeuvrability has been improved too and this has happened due to proper weighing of the steering wheel. I was more interested in doing my share of climbing in this SUV. The raised ground clearance of 210mm meant that that this can be taken anywhere. Interestingly, it is more than that of Mahindra XUV500, Tata Safari Storme and even the Skoda Yeti.
It took on all types of terrain easily. The ESP and ASR jump in action when they sense lose of traction or wet surface. They are quick enough to get the vehicle back on track. Even while climbing terrains, the efforts seemed seamless as the Hill Start Assist doesn’t let the vehicle roll back. Renault has also tweaked its suspension setup as they now offer Independent Multilink Suspension which made the ride less tiring. The 255/65 section tyres also deserve a mention as they held on the surface making cornering extremely enjoyable.
In terms of fuel efficiency, Renault claims the Duster AWD deliver 19.72kmpl. During our testing, we recorded a real time fuel consumption of 16.5 kmpl which include city, highway and off-road drive testing. Smaller displacement, more torque and lighter weight makes the Duster deliver a fantastic mileage.
|Variant||RXz 110 PS|
|Ex Showroom Price Mumbai||TBA|
|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|
|i Drive with Shift-on-the-fly||Yes|
|ESP and ASR||Yes|
|Hill Start Assist||Yes|
|Sporty Burnt Red Fabric upholstery||Yes|
|Independent Multilink Suspension||Yes|
|Rear Wiper and washer||Yes|
|Front Fog lamps||Yes|
|Seat Fabric Upholstery||Yes|
|AC with Heater||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||RXZ 110||2.2 VX 4x4||W8 AWD||Elegance 4 X 4|
|Engine type||1.5 dCi K9K THP||2.2L VariCOR||mHawk CRDe||TDI Diesel|
|Power in PS/RPM||110/3900||138 / 4000||140 / 3750||138 / 4200|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||248/2250||320 / 1700||330 / 2800||320 / 1750|
|Boot space in Litres||475||NA||NA||416|
|Kerb weight (kgs)||NA||2095||1785||1543|
|Tyres||215/65 R16||235 / 70 R16||235 / 65 R17||215 / 60 R16|
|Fuel Tank capacity in Liters||50||55||70||60|