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 However, it’s been almost 4 years since this SUV was launched and it started feeling very outdated, what with rivals coming up with far more polished vehicles.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. Renault Duster price range in India is between 8,68,453/- to 13,94,239/- , check for detail pricing of Duster in Carzprice
Renault Duster Design
Those anticipating a sea change to the exterior would be disappointed to know that Renault hasn’t fiddled much with the Duster’s design. Yes, the purposeful-looking stance is still there though what’s new for this 2016 model is some garnishing to the bits that matter. The square-ish headlights, for instance, are a lot busier now and feature multiple sharp creases and the front bumper, too, is equally refreshed with dollops of brushed silver cladding.
Never is a major facelift complete without a newer set of alloy wheels and for the Duster, Renault has opted for a 5-spoke blacked-out design that seems to have been inspired from those good old die-cast models from Hot Wheels.
The new Duster also gets chunky-looking roof rails, different wing mirrors and a revised taillight cluster with funky detailing. While these new taillights retain the basic shape of the old units, they do look rather nice when lit up. Rounding off the changes, there’s a new colour option as seen on the car here. Called Cayenne orange, this shade really brings out the taut and beefy lines of the Duster.
Renault Duster Cabin
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 Transmission
The Renault Duster comes with the same 1.5-litre dCi diesel powerplant in two states of tune – 84bhp and 109bhp. There’s also a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The biggest addition though is of the automated manual transmission (AMT) on the more powerful diesel version. Renault also claims to have improved the packaging of the engine bay and have strengthened it in key areas to improve safety.
The AMT gearbox is available in the top RxL and RxZ variants and comes only in front-wheel-drive guise. Let’s start with the positives. This is by far the best iteration of the AMT we have experienced till date, across makes. This ZF-sourced system works well on the highway and part throttle gearshifts are relatively smooth. You also get a creep function which is a boon in stop-start traffic
But as soon as you put your foot down you get that typical AMT pause as the hydraulic actuators struggle to downshift quickly enough to keep up the momentum. Even in stop-start traffic, power delivery can be jerky and upshifts at lower speeds feel painstakingly slow. It’s in the manual mode that this gearbox feels the best and there is a way of getting around this drawback by just lifting off before every shift. Unfortunately, this defeats the whole purpose of having an automatic in the first place.
Despite the slow gearbox, performance figures are quite impressive with 100kmph coming up in 13.61 seconds. But it’s in the drivability test where the Duster AMT suffers as it takes 8.08 seconds for the 20-80kmph dash and 10.46 seconds in the 40-100kmph kickdown. This makes it nearly two seconds slower than the Hyundai Creta automatic on both drivability runs.
We also sampled the AWD version of the Duster and as before we came away really impressed. The AWD variant uses shorter gearing as compared to the 4X2 variant and this helps its drivability considerably. There is loads of pulling power from the word go and even at speeds as low as 20kmph you can easily pull away in third gear. Renault seems to have made the clutch lighter too which makes town driving a hassle free affair.
Renault Duster Driving
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
Talking about safety, the 2016 Renault Duster comes with dual front airbags and ABS. The AMT transmission also gets features like Hill Hold and ESP. There is also a traction control system on offer which does its job pretty well should you decide to have some fun around the twisties. In terms of after-sales service, Renault does have a not-so-good network and it just doesn’t match the quality levels of Hyundai for that matter.
Renault Duster Price
Renault Duster Ex-Showroom Price in India ranges from 8,68,453/- (Duster RxE Petrol) to 13,94,239/- (Duster RxZ Diesel 110PS 4×2 MT). Get best offers for Renault Duster from Renault Dealers in India
Renault Duster Bottomline
Despite the automobile scenario being a bit dull overall, the Duster has still come in at just the right time for Renault India. While it is still going to be a tough task to keep the tempo going for the Duster, it is quite clear that it is not without reason that prospective buyers are queuing up for test drives and causing traffic jams outside Renault showrooms around the country.