Saturday, 14 July 2012

Renault Duster review, test drive

We drive Renault's new small SUV for India, the Duster. It genuinely is good enough to give Renault its first big hit.

Renault’s Indian innings so far have been nothing to write home about. What the company needs at this point is a game-changer, a model that makes people sit up and take notice of Renault and why it is, in fact, among the world’s major car makers.
Cue the Duster. At first glance, the Duster surprises you with its proportions, as it looks substantially larger than its 4.3-metre length would have you believe. The flared wheel arches, huge wheel clearance, typical SUV scuff plates and the roof rails all play their part in making the car look like a distinctive SUV. While the design team may have been conservative in terms of styling, the car holds a certain road presence that is bound to appeal to a large audience.

Even though the Duster’s interiors are definitely a nice place to be in, it lacks a premium feel. The shiny, hard dashboard plastics look cheap and even the grain is not what you’d expect on a car of this class. The deep glovebox, numerous cupholders, curved instrument binnacle, and the neatly integrated Aux/USB-ready music system all come together to make the interiors of the Duster very practical. The highlight of the SUV is its back seat that offers excellent thigh, back and shoulder support with ample knee – and headroom too. The air-conditioning too was simply outstanding.
Renault will bring the Duster to India with petrol and diesel options. The petrol engine will be a 1.6-litre, in-line four-cylinder motor capable of 102.5bhp at 5850rpm and 14.8kgm of torque at 3750rpm. Featuring twin-cams and 16 valves, the engine (K4M in Renault-speak) will come mated to a five-speed gearbox. The diesel, however, will be the one Renault will bank its fortunes on. Making use of the now ubiquitous 1.5-litre K9K powerplant, Renault will be offering the engine in two states of tune at different price points.
The more powerful 108.5bhp engine features a variable geometry turbocharger and intercooler and only recently received upgrades to improve in-city driveability. With 25.3kgm of torque produced at 2250rpm, there’s a fair bit of turbo lag and you need to wait for the engine to rev to 2000rpm to get a serious move on. The SUV works best in its comfort zone of 2000-4000rpm. This, and the Duster’s light 1308kg kerb weight, means real-world performance is actually quite good. When tested with our data acquisition device, the Duster took 11.01 seconds from 20-80kph in third gear and 11.92 seconds from 40-100kph in fourth, which makes it quicker than the significantly more powerful XUV500! The inclusion of a sixth gear makes the 108.5bhp Duster a very able mile-munching SUV.
In contrast, the lower-output engine seems better suited to crowded city confines. The less powerful 84hp engine with 20.4kgm of torque has access to power from the word go, unlike its more powerful sibling. It comes mated to Renault’s JR5 five-speed gearbox which is easy to use and has smartly chosen ratios.
The rigid chassis, meaty 215/65 R16 tyres, front MacPherson struts and a torsion bar rear suspension work in complete unison to soften the worst of blows. Ride remains flat at all times with the suspension always going about its business in a quiet manner. There are no two ways about it – the Duster is simply the best-riding SUV for its price. Braking is via ABS- and EBD-enabled ventilated front discs and rear drums that do a fair job of shedding speed.

Renault Duster prices (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
RXE Petrol: Rs 7.19 lakh
RXL Petrol: Rs 8.19 lakh
RXE Diesel 85: Rs 7.99 lakh
RXL Diesel 85: Rs 8.99lakh
RXL Diesel pack 85: Rs 9.99 lakh
RXL Diesel 110: Rs 9.99 lakh
RXZ Diesel 110: Rs 10.99 lakh
RXZ Diesel pack 110: Rs 11.29 lakh

Fact File

Price Range (in lakhs)*
Ex-showroom price Rs 7.2 lakh to Rs 12 lakh (estimated)
Fuel Petrol/diesel
Installation Front, transverse
Power 102.5bhp (petrol), 84bhp and 108.5bhp (diesel)
Torque 14.7kgm (petrol), 20.4kgm and 25.28kgm (diesel)
Type Front wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual
Length 4315mm
Width 1822mm
Height 1695mm
Wheel base 2673mm
Boot volume 475 litres
Ground clearance 210mm
Chassis & Body
Construction Monocoque
Wheels 16-inch alloy
Tyres 215/65-R16
Spare Full Size
Front Independent, MacPherson Struts
Rear Non-independent, torsion beam
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electro-hydraulic
Front Ventilated Discs
Rear Drums
Anti-lock Yes
Tank size 50 litres
Broad-shouldered design makes the Duster look much larger than its 4.3 metre length would have you believe.
The Duster's flared-out wheel arches, huge ground clearance and scuff plates are pure SUV elements.
Cabin design is neat and the dashboard is very practical though shiny plastics means it doesn't look premium.
Dials are clear and easy to read at all times.Rear seats are flat but comfort and space are excellent.The AC controls don't look upmarket and are mechanical to operate.A low loading lip and smartly designed luggage bay make the boot more usable than its 475-litre capacity suggest.  The rear seat backrest folds to increase loading capacity. Unlike the Logan, the Duster's power window switches are located on the doors.Apart from a 1.6-litre petrol, the Duster will be sold with a 1.5-litre diesel available in two states of tune - 84bhp and 108bhp.

1 comment:

  1. Renault Duster is very dynamic and full bodied SUV has powerful and impressive drive features. This compact SUV has bold and thriving appearance. It has utterly stylish and comfortable interior and attractive exteriors features.
    Renault Duster price in india