Opinion: Can Renault Take On Jeep Compass, Tata Harrier With A Bigger Duster?
Renault’s sister company, Dacia, has ruled out the possibility of a bigger Duster. But will a bigger or a 7-seat version of the popular compact SUV can be considered for India?
The Hyundai Creta is the current market leader in the Indian compact SUV segment. However, it was the Renault Duster that first satiated our hunger for an urban SUV with butch looks. Given the Duster’s initial popularity in our country, there were rumours (and expectations as well) that Renault would introduce a bigger or a 7-seat version of the SUV. Those rumours were recently put to rest by Dacia’s UK boss. Dacia and Renault belong to Groupe Renault and cross-badge the Duster in various markets.
Louise O’Sullivan, who heads Dacia in the UK, reportedly said that the Romanian car manufacturer has no plans to follow the current trend of offering larger SUVs. She further added that the higher price of large SUVs would not fit within Dacia’s vision of offering affordable vehicles.
Now her comments could be specific for Dacia and might even be limited to the UK market, but they do bring up an important question -- Will we ever get to see a bigger Duster?
The Duster rides on Renault’s B0 platform, loosely referred to as a low-cost platform, that also underpins many of the group’s cars in developing nations like India. Renault already has plans to introduce a crossover with a high ground clearance based on this platform soon. The upcoming crossover is likely to be bigger than the Duster and is expected to be showcased at the 2018 Moscow Motor Show. However, given the Duster’s square-ish exterior design in both its first and second generation, the upcoming crossover might not be able to justify the ‘Bigger Duster’ tag as it is expected to carry a swoopy, crossover design.
The Lodgy, which is based on a reworked version of the B0 platform, has a bigger wheelbase than the Duster. And it features three-row seating as well. As a result, we can’t write-off a genuinely bigger and more premium version of the Duster, especially since there is a demand for premium compact SUVs in the country. In fact, some online reports even suggest that the Lodgy will grow into a 7-seat SUV in its next generation, which we’ll get to see in 2020.
In India, this segment of premium but compact SUVs is set to witness some action in 2019 with Tata launching the Harrier SUV and MG set to introduce an SUV as its first-ever product for the country. Both these SUVs will lock horns with the Jeep Compass, which outsold the Hyundai Tucson within a year of its launch owing to its competitive price tag.
Since Renault has already localised the Lodgy platform in India, it wouldn’t be an uphill task for the carmaker to develop a new SUV based on this platform and price it aggressively. So while we feel that Renault can definitely pull it off, we also believe that it may want to enter some high-volume segments as well. So the chances of a bigger Duster coming soon appear hazy. What we’d instead like to know from Renault is -- When is the new Duster coming to India?
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