“The Duster has a dual personality. It does well as a soft off-roader, at the same time performs well on highways.”
Renault originally entered the Indian market in a joint venture with Mahindra in the year 2007. Over the years, the company has grown to become a strong stakeholder in the market, with a broad portfolio of vehicles.
The Duster debuted in mid 2012 and turned things around for Renault in India almost overnight. Now with a slew of new options available in the segment, the Duster seemed outdated amidst the competition. The automaker recently launched a facelifted version of the car. Let’s find out where this new model scores.
1. Brilliant ride quality. Glides over irregularities on tarmac.
2. AWD variant can take on uneven terrain with ease. 210mm of ground clearance is adequate for most soft-roading jaunts.
3. Highway manners remain one of the best in it’s class. Remains stable at high speeds. Neutral through corners as well.
4. AMT makes city commutes convenient. Efficiency remains unchanged compared to the manual.
1. Interior quality, fit and finish leaves a lot to be desired. The Creta’s cabin in comparison looks and feels plush.
2. The petrol motor feels lethargic and unsuited for the size of the vehicle.
3. Jerky shifts on the AMT. Not as refined as the automatic gearbox on the Creta.
4. AMT is limited to the 110PS 4x2 variant. The 85PS version gets the manual
Stand Out Features:
1. Features India’s only 6-speed AMT. It is the first AMT in India to be paired with features like cruise control and hill assist.
2. Only compact SUV to feature AWD. Neither the Creta nor the Terrano offer a 4WD variant.
“The new Duster gets a renewed look that helps it to keep up with the changing landscape of the segment”
In terms of external design, the updated Duster manages to differentiate itself from the previous one really well.
At the front, there is the dual-wing chrome grill along with the sharp new redesigned headlamps that now give the Duster an aggressive look. The faux silver skid plate now extends on to the front of the bumper which renders a rugged image to the car.
Move to the side, and you realise that the changes to this version are merely cosmetic.
The 16” alloys have an updated design, which is quite a quirky offering for a OEM setup.
The other changes to the side include an updated roof rail with Duster branding and wing mirrors, which are now wrapped in carbon fiber for the AWD avatar.
The Duster retains the same muscular image with the beefy wheel arches. In a sea of options like the Creta and Ecosport that look closer to hatchbacks than SUV’s, we love the burly Duster.
At the rear, the LED tail lamps now have a waterfall design. The other thing that has changed at the back is the new redesigned bumper and a larger faux skid plate to go with the one on the front. The rear looks as clean as the previous version and now with minimalistic badging, it looks even better.
The rear gets touches of chrome with a broad center center plate with Duster inscribed and a chrome tip exhaust.
In terms of dimensions, Duster remains the same, with its length at 4315mm. This is 16mm shorter than its sister, Terrano. While the two are badge engineered (Application of different manufacturers to the same product with styling changes) the difference in length can be attributed to the Terrano’s beefier bumpers. In terms of other cars in the segment, the Creta is shorter by 45mm and Ford Ecosport is shorter by a whole 315mm. In terms of width, the Terrano again is ahead of the Duster by a good 178 mm. The rest continue to be behind the Duster in the range of 42-57mm.
In terms of height, the Duster stands at 1695mm. The Ecosport is the tallest of the lot here, by 13mm. The Duster, along with the Terrano, boasts the highest ground clearance and the longest wheelbase compared to the competition at 205mm and 2673mm, respectively.
“The changes on the interior make the Duster more functional than ever.”
Enter the cabin, and you are greeted by a familiar sight. The changes to the dash are minor and mainly focused toward fixing the things that previous Duster owners had complaints about. The upholstery runs a crimson black theme on the AWD variant and a familiar black & beige on the regular and AMT variant.
The steering wheel is the same chunky unit with a wide hornpad. The only visible change is the addition of silver bits on the spokes. The steering holds the controls for the cruise control while the audio controls have a dedicated stalk behind the steering wheel.
The instrument cluster is a carry over from the previous Duster. The triple barrel designs has chrome surrounds with one each dedicated to the speedo, rev counter and the MID display.
The MID shows the ODO, trip meter, average speed, distance to empty, fuel efficiency, fuel consumed and a gear indicator.
It is the center console where we see the bulk of changes. The neat vertical design sees a piano black finish.
The air vents get an updated design and show off a small touch of chrome when closed. The are flanked by red bezels on the AWD version. The regular FWD & the AMT Duster gets chrome surround which was easier on our eyes.
The hazard lights and central locking toggles find their place above the touchscreen system. The interface gets an update. The hardware is the same one we saw on a slew of Renault cars. The AWD gets the touchscreen as standard. The 7” system plays media from CD’s, USB, AUX & Bluetooth. The touchscreen system has the same functionalities but misses out on the CD feature. The touchscreen unit is easy to use, and responsive. However, it could have been slightly brighter (readability in harsh/direct sun isn’t the best).
My only complaint while trying to access this system is that it could have been placed a tad bit higher so I don't have to take my eyes off the road as much as I did here.
The biggest change and the most welcome change is the addition of automatic climate control! System gets a hip layout and instead of a conventional screen usually seen on other system, every button gets its own toggle light. The temperature selector is a large chunky knob with an array of lights marking the temperature selection.
The glove box is a large and illuminated unit. Additional storage is in the form of an open storage on top of the dashboard. The passenger side airbag is housed between the two and gets a neat Duster branding.
The front door, on the inside, gets piano black treatment and a chrome handle. A unit at the bottom houses the speaker and the window controls. There is a storage space too which can accommodate 1-liter bottles. The electronic mirror adjustments have now found their way onto the door along with the power window switches. This is a welcome change as in the previous version they were placed under the handbrake lever making it virtually impossible to adjust the mirrors on the go. You had to pull over every time you needed to make adjustments.
The driver's seat is adjustable for height as well as lumbar. The driver gets his own center armrest which was a necessary addition now that the Duster is offered in an automatic (AMT) variant. Moving to the rear seats, the same upholstery design follows. There are adjustable headrests for two rear passengers. The head rest at the center is a fixed one. You get an armrest at the back along with a rear air-con vent. The seats are well reclined but the legroom is good at best but not great. Renault is really good at optimizing interiors and we felt that they could have carved out more space. The 5th passenger, however, is going to be really uncomfortable. The rear doors get the same treatment as the front, sans the door pocket.
The rear has a large parcel shelve and will be used to store most of your stuff as there is a lack of storage spaces in the rear. Moving all the way back, the boot is enormous at 475 liters. This is at par with Terrano but 75 liters ahead of the Creta and 130 liters ahead of the Ecosport. In case you need more room while moving your houses or something, the rear seats fold down to provide 1064 liters of space!
“With one petrol, two diesel engines on offer with options for an AWD and AMT, there’s a Duster for everyone”
The petrol mill is a 1.6-liter unit that churns out 102.53bhp @ 5750 rpm and puts down 148 Nm@3750 rpm. This engine is a gas guzzler and feels out of place on a car of this size. The clutch on this version is light and has sufficient low end to move around in the city. When we took it on the highways, we constantly had to keep downshifting and keep it on the top of the rev range to get the most out of it.
This version is strictly limited to minor use around the city as it really gulps fuel.
While the engine remains the same as the 110ps version, the engine carries a different state of tune. The tune is similar to the one found on the Renault Scala/Nissan Sunny. The engine churns out 84bhp and 200Nm of torque. While this may seem low compared to the 110ps version, it is surprisingly adequate as a city kick around. The engine doesn’t need too many downshifts in the city, and turbo lag is in check. In fact, the turbo lag is so well controlled, we prefer this over its more powerful sibling for driving within the city. As a highway runner, you’d certainly want the punch of the more powerful 110ps version.
The engine is in no way underpowered but seems that way when there is a 110ps version on offer.
Overall it’s a perfect engine to chuck about in the places where the Duster will spend most of its time, the city.
For this version, there is a new option of an AMT gearbox, which makes it a breeze in bumper to bumper traffic. The engine and other specs remain unchanged. The engine, in its 110ps tune, churns out 109bhp and 248Nm of torque. The NVH (noise, vibration & harshness) levels were really good for when they were launched. However, when you compare it to the latest kid on the block (read: Hyundai Creta), it does seem coarse and sounds gruff
The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox. The additional gear, when compared to the 85ps version, makes cruising on the highways a breeze. The let down is the hard clutch which got our muscles sore in bumper to bumper traffic. This is something that we were rooting for will be changed with the update.
The Duster continues to be a good option to consider but lacks the refinements that are now being offered by the competition. It’s clearly a missed opportunity by Renault with this update.
The AWD (All Wheel Drive) version is only available in the 110ps version. The changes that have made their way into the AWD version is that the engine is tuned slightly differently, the gear ratios are shorter, an electro-hydraulic power steering and the rear suspension see a better multi-link suspension unit and obviously an AWD system that now send power to all 4 wheels as compared to the front. The mode of driving can be selected from the knob between 2WD, Auto & Lock.The Auto option on the drive selector is a really sensible unit which constantly understood which wheel was loosing power and compensating accordingly. The lock version too works well, but automatically disengages on crossing 50kmph.
Hands down, the AWD version is your best option if your chosen path is throwing you a challenge. If you want to do some true blue off-roading, you should place your money on something that was meant to be an off-roader in the first place i.e. the Thar. For us, the Thar is too crude to live with on a daily basis and the other options like the Creta, Ecosport, and other pseudo SUVs do not offer a 4x4 option - the Duster strikes a nice balance between the two.
The AMT is a welcome addition to the Duster portfolio. Developed in conjunction with ZF, the gearbox is India’s first 6- speed AMT. It is also the only AMT to be paired with features such as traction control, cruise control and hill assist.
The gearbox is available only with the 110PS 4x2 variant. There isn’t an AWD + AMT combo. The shifts are nowhere as seamless as a regular torque converter and far from the smooth shifts of a DSG. As is the case with most AMTs, there are noticeable shift shocks while upshifting. The downshifts too are evident, especially when the gearbox shifts from 2nd to 1st. This can get slightly irritating in stop and go traffic, where-in the gearbox is constantly puzzled whether to select 1st or 2nd. Other than that, it is a complete boon for the left leg. Out on the highways, the gearbox barely let’s you take note of the upshifts. 3rd to 4th and beyond is pretty smooth and almost imperceptible.
It is only when you stomp on the pedal does the AMT seem properly confused. It takes its own sweet time to downshift and give you the required acceleration. For instances where you need quick shifts, switch to manual mode by sliding the gear lever away from yourself. Pull the lever behind to upshift and push it forward to downshift. Sadly, the lag between the shifts is evident even in Manual.
Overall, the AMT is a good addition to the package. If you intend on travelling inside the city a lot, we recommend spending 60k extra and getting the AMT. The long travel on the clutch of the manual Duster can induce some really bad knee aches!
Ride & Handling:
There have been absolutely no updates to the suspension as compared to the previous Duster. Handling is where Renault has done what it does best and we are happy that they have left this part untouched.
This machine takes on typical uneven Indian roads like a charm. On our highway stints, it drives like a breeze, and would put most sedans to shame. The ride is nice and flat, with minimal vertical movements.
None of the shenanigans that are usually found with high standing SUVs are visible. The body roll is in check and the car instills confidence in the driver. Another thing which we love is the ease with which it moves around in tight parking spaces, thanks to the 5.2 m turning radius.
The only thing that left us wanting more is the wind noise that creeps into the cabin at high speeds and the clutch being too heavy.
“Addition of ABS & EBD in most variants is a welcome change”
The new edition comes with ABS and EBD as standard for almost all variants except the base trim, and we thought this was a great improvement. In addition to this, Renault claims to have incorporated an all new 'CMO10' architecture that enhances safety for the occupants. Aside from this, other features in the safety department include a rear view camera, brake assist, electronic stability program and hill assist.
Airbags are still not standard with the base variant in the Duster. Only the top end gets dual front airbags while the two variants below it get only a driver airbag. The lower variants get no airbags.
There are minor changes to the positioning of the Duster’s variants. The major change is that ABS and EBD are now standard, except on the base variant. The starting RxE variant is offered only in the less powerful diesel and the petrol option it offers bare minimum likes Central Locking, Engine Immobilizer, Keyless Entry, Power Windows, Power Steering & Front Air Conditioning. Other features like parcel tray, roof rails and tilt steering are also found here.
Moving up, the RxL is offered in all the engine options along with an AWD version as well. In addition to the base variant, you get a 2Din entertainment system and ABS but misses out on airbags. For this, you will have to opt for the option pack.
On the top end, you get chrome mirrors and chrome side steps. Another key addition is the adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support adjustment. All safety features are standard on this variant and the option pack give you leather seats. The infotainment system gets updated to a touchscreen unit here.
Our pick would be the RxL with the option pack as it provides all basic and safety features and offers the best bang for the buck.
Renault Duster price
|85PS Diesel STD |
|9,34,415 ||9,51,551 ||10,20,322 ||9,53,567 ||9,62,639 ||9,55,583 ||9,65,663
|85PS Diesel RxE |
|9,54,575 ||9,71,711 ||10,41,689 ||9,73,727 ||9,82,799 ||9,75,743 ||9,85,823
|Adventure Edition 85PS RXE |
|9,64,000 ||9,89,532 ||10,50,576 ||9,83,727 ||10,05,642 ||9,93,725 ||10,12,678
|85PS Diesel RxL |
|10,35,215 ||10,52,351 ||11,27,158 ||10,54,367 ||10,63,439 ||10,56,383 ||10,66,463
|Adventure Edition 85PS RXL |
|10,45,000 ||10,72,678 ||11,38,173 ||10,64,367 ||10,90,141 ||10,77,223 ||10,97,768
|110PS Diesel RxL |
|11,15,855 ||11,32,991 ||12,12,628 ||11,35,007 ||11,44,079 ||11,37,023 ||11,47,103
|85PS Diesel RxZ |
|11,56,175 ||11,73,311 ||12,55,363 ||11,75,327 ||11,84,399 ||11,77,343 ||11,87,423
|110PS Diesel RxL AMT |
|11,76,335 ||11,93,471 ||12,76,731 ||11,95,487 ||12,04,559 ||11,97,503 ||12,07,583
|110PS Diesel RxZ |
|12,36,815 ||12,53,951 ||13,40,833 ||12,55,967 ||12,65,039 ||12,57,983 ||12,68,063
|110PS Diesel RxZ AMT |
|12,97,295 ||13,14,431 ||14,04,936 ||13,16,447 ||13,25,519 ||13,18,463 ||13,28,543
|110PS Diesel RxZ AWD |
|13,67,855 ||13,84,991 ||14,79,722 ||13,87,007 ||13,96,079 ||13,89,023 ||13,99,103
|Adventure Edition RXZ AWD |
|13,77,000 ||14,13,471 ||14,90,895 ||13,97,007 ||14,36,482 ||14,19,460 ||14,46,532
|Petrol RxE |
|8,53,775 ||8,70,911 ||9,34,852 ||8,72,927 ||8,86,165 ||8,74,943 ||8,85,023
|Petrol RxL |
|9,34,415 ||9,51,551 ||10,20,322 ||9,53,567 ||9,62,639 ||9,55,583 ||9,65,663