Renault Duster Facelift First Drive Review

Renault Duster

Renault Duster Overview

Let’s face it, established carmakers like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai are now alarmingly vulnerable to some sales beating from Renault more than ever. The latter, here in India, is a relatively young automotive player, after all. That said, thanks to well thought-out products like the Kwid and the Duster doing extremely well, Renault India has managed to trundle along the right path and gain a respectable market share in a short span of time. While the Kwid is still factory-fresh and off to a flying start, it’s been nearly four years since the Duster practically kickstarted the compact SUV trend as we know it. Check for car loan interest calculator.

After introducing a handful of special editions and an all-wheel drive version based on it, Renault India has pensioned off the original Duster. Subsequently, the brand has dished out a major facelift for the model, complete with refreshed styling, a better-equipped interior and an all-important automatic gearbox option. On paper, then, this new Duster comfortably outdoes the original, but is it any better to take on the opposition?

Renault Duster Look

When it comes to basic design and looks, there are no changes. However, the company has given several tweaks here and there to give it a distinct look from the earlier model. The square-shaped blacked out headlights now gets more detailing that makes it look futuristic. The grille design has completely revamped with new twin-slat chrome one which is better styled than the previous version. The car also gets chunky scuff plates and heavily brushed silver cladding at the front as well as on the rear that does add to the aggressive SUV credentials.

The most evident change in the side profile is in the form of new black alloys. While the new alloys look plainer, they lend altogether a different appearance when they are in motion. The turn indicators are now an integral part of ORVMs which are electrically foldable. The rear portion is also revised with new S-shaped signature LED making way into the tail lamp cluster. Overall, the changes are subtle but give a youthful touch to the car.

Renault Duster Comfort

Oddly enough, the diesel automatic AMT Duster can be had in the top-spec RxZ variant only whereas the petrol CVT is offered in the RxS variant which is a step down. Naturally, the latter isn’t as well equipped and misses out on some essentials such as climate control and a backup camera. The RxS variant doesn’t get soft touch dash and door pads either. The design and quality of materials remain the same which means you still the odd-numbered speedometer, a large steering wheel and sub-par plastics. Although poor fit and finish was one of the main shortcomings of the original model, Renault improved the quality with the facelift. That said, there is still a low-rent feel to the doors and the centre console surrounds and the overall fit and finish is iffy.

The driving position is mostly car-like, but you do sit up higher than in a hatchback. The A-pillars are slim, helping outward visibility though what’s not so impressive are the wing mirrors which are surprisingly small. As for space and comfort, the Duster CVT petrol is the same and in no way that’s a bad thing. The front seats are just about the right size and offer adequate back and knee support. More importantly, the rear-seat space is also ample with better thigh support than the competition. All in all, the cabin is not as well built as the competition, but there’s no denying that it’s spacious and thoroughly practical.

Renault Duster Gearbox

The 1.5-litre, K9K diesel engine continues its long run of service under this Renault’s bonnet and it’s an adequate if somewhat agricultural performer. What’s entirely new in the powertrain department though is the addition of an automated manual transmission or AMT to the range, and by range, we mean the RxL and RxZ trim. Also, the AMT comes mated to the 110bhp/248Nm, front-wheel drive Duster only.

While we have already seen AMTs do their job in some of the newer small cars, the one in the Duster is a fairly advanced unit and with 6-speeds, it’s also the one with the highest number of gear ratios. Out on the road, however, it works just as good (or bad) as the ones we are familiar with. To start with, the shifts are hardly seamless and the whole car rocks back and forth while shifting cogs – this is particularly evident under full throttle. On part throttle, however, the gear shifts are relatively smoother and one can better things further by going off throttle for a fraction of a second while upshifting. For those looking to take occasional control, there’s a manual mode as well which will only upshift at the screaming end of the powerband. For more information on Renault Duster  visit Iiit-bh

The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, on the other hand, remains the same as before and delivers strong power only above 2,000revs. This means one has to keep the Duster on the boil and that’s important for instances such as darting into traffic gaps just as much as it is overtaking at triple digit speeds. Thankfully, the engine makes up for the lag by offering reasonable grunt throughout the mid-range and the top-end without sounding too coarse.

It’s not just the engine that impresses. The Duster’s impressive road-holding manners have also been carried onto this new model. This means you get the similarly progressive and mid-weighted steering feel that is only a little bit loose on center. Too bad that three-spoke wheel still judders when taking corners over undulations. Renault has certainly worked on reducing the juddering; however, it’s still there and would probably prove to be unnerving for some drivers.

Renault Duster Riding

As for the ride and handling, this petrol version is the same as the rest of the Duster range which is a good thing. The steering feel is light and progressive, only a little loose on-centre. Too bad that three-spoke wheel still judders when taking corners at high speeds. Renault says they have worked on reducing the juddering; however, it’s still there and would probably prove to be unnerving for some drivers. No such groaning when it comes to the ride quality as the Duster simply manages to hover across bad roads. Yes, it is slightly stiffer than its rivals but the trade-off to this is that the Duster feels a lot more solid when going through median bumps and potholes. Unlike some cars wherein you have to take caution while going over rough roads, you really can plough through in the Duster without second thoughts, the whole suspension is that solid. Book Renault Duster  Test drive.

Renault Duster Safety

The braking system installed in the car doesn’t disappoint at all. The bite force instills confidence in the driver. The AWD system itself has immense capabilities to take you through any terrains. Further, in the safety department, Duster has been bestowed with dual airbags, ABS and EBD, ESP, Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and reverse parking sensors.

Renault Duster Price in Pune

Renault Duster On-Road Price in Pune ranges from 9,54,226 to 15,66,406 for variants Duster RxE Petrol and Duster RxZ 110PS Diesel AWD respectively. Renault Duster is available in 9 variants and 7 colours. Below are details of Renault Duster variants price in Pune. Check for Duster price in Pune at Autozhop.

Renault Duster Bottomline

The Duster CVT petrol, then, is a purposeful looking, no nonsense product with slightly old-school interiors. It’s not the most sophisticated product and with the CVT offered in the mid-spec RxS variant only, not a feature-rich offering either. It is quite likeable though and remains a good performer and at least in the automatic form, less taxing to drive than before. All in all, it is tough and a fairly capable compact SUV, unless in-car tech (Ford EcoSport) or plush ride quality (Tata Nexon) are top priorities.

Renault Duster is available in five different variants such as STD, RXS, RXL, RXZ and RXS CVT. The pricing of the duster has been kept competitive so as to please the buyers against its counterparts. The base model is priced at Rs. 7.95 lakh while the top spec model is available at Rs. 12.79 lakh. The top selling model diesel RXZ AMT is tagged at Rs. 12.33 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi.

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