The SUV segment is becoming the most competitive segment in the Indian market, especially the compact utility division. Renault India is one of the oldest players in this segment and they have a novel proposition to offer- the Duster SUV. It was first launched in 2012 and took Renault's journey in the Indian market to a new height of success. The Renault Duster is known for its robust build and unmatched driving manners. Its all-wheel-drivetrain option had created a distinct place for Duster in its own segment. Customers also appreciated its diesel engine for its excellent performance but the transition to BS6 emission norms forced the French makers to discontinue the diesel and AWD variants. However, to compensate for the loss of a diesel motor, Renault introduced a new 1.3-liter turbocharged petrol engine with the choice of a manual and CVT automatic gearbox. So, how capable is the new turbo-petrol engine? And will it help Duster to regain its old charm? Let's find out.
Renault Duster had received a mid-life facelift update last year. It got fascinating cosmetic upgrades and a few additional features. The turbo variant gets the same styling but with some contrast red color highlights on the chrome grille, fog lamp housings, wheel center caps, and red-colored "DUSTER" badging on the roofrails and tailgate.
It continues to carry forward its old-school muscular appearances. The front profile of the facelifted Duster looks pretty similar to its pre-facelift version. However, the brand has given it a new touch with the addition of a newly designed chrome grille flanked by new projector headlamps with integrated LED DRLs, a new pattern for the bonnet bulges, and a redesigned front bumper.
The side profile remains unchanged, except for the new dual-tone diamond-cut alloy wheels.
The rear profile too is relatively the same as the pre-facelift version. However, it gets updated taillamp cluster and quirky black cladding on the tailgate which gives it a rugged appeal.
|Width (mm)||1822 without Mirrors|
|Height (mm)||1695 with Roof Rails|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||205|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (liters)||50|
|Minimum turning radius (meter)||5.2|
Interior & Features
The Interior of the Turbo version is also similar to the non-turbo variants. The cabin too got the substantial upgrades last year.
In comparison to the pre-facelift version, the brand has given a complete refresh look to the dashboard layout. The central AC vents are now square-shaped instead of round and the steering wheel has also been modernized.
The cabin continuous to get hard touch plastic and piano black finishing on the center console. It also gets chrome and silver metallic highlights on various parts of the cabin such as the steering wheel, center console of the dash, around AC vents, door handles and grab handles, etc.
The 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system is still placed in a very odd position and feels very basic. It comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple carplay smartphone connectivity. It also features an EcoGuide for aiding efficiency.
With the introduction of a turbocharged engine, the Duster also gets remote cabin cooling via the key-fob. The other notable features of the Duster includes automatic climate control, cruise control, manually adjustable Day/night IRVM, a 6-speaker system with Arkamys sound tuning, height-adjustable driver's seat, individual driver seat armrest, rear armrest, cooled glovebox, electrically adjustable and foldable ORVMs, etc.
In comparison to the other offerings of the segment, the Duster misses premium bits like automatic LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming inside mirror, sunroof, rear AC vents, ventilated seats, air purifier, wireless charger, and connected car technology. Overall, the Renault Duster's interior feels very basic and sturdy like its exterior design.
Cabin Space & Comfort
The seats of the Renault Duster offer satisfactory support and cushioning. The cabin space is also generous.
The driver's seat of the Duster is placed in a very good position and you can also get a bonnet view from here.
The driver seat comes with a height adjustment function with lumbar support. This adjustment function is a mechanical unit and if you want to lessen the height of the seat, you will have to first sit on it and if you have to lift the seat upwards, then you have to get up or get down from the seat, which spoils the overall experience.
The footwell area is cramped and that may bother you a bit in the manual variants.
Heading into the second row and it's too pretty roomy. There is an extreme amount of headroom even for the taller passengers. However, the knee room and legroom are just adequate, and sitting two six-footer behind one another would be trouble. The rear bench is wide enough to accommodate three passengers but if the middle occupant is a fully grown person, then you may have a problem with the shoulder room. However, the good thing is that all the three rear seats get headrest (adjustable for window seats and integrated for the middle seat). Additionally, the Duster also offers a rear center armrest with cupholder, a 12V charging sockets on the rear parcel tray, and a dedicated rear cabin lamp for added convenience.
Storage and Boot Space
There is an adequate amount of storage spaces inside the Duster. It gets two gloveboxes, in which one is cooled and the second one is illuminated. The front doors get bottle holders and a couple of storage spaces in the center console too. The rear doors don’t get any storage space. However, for the rear occupants, there are seatback pockets, a rear parcel tray, two cup holders in the armrest, and a bottle holder at the end of the center console.
On the other hand, the Duster offers 475 liters of cargo space and it can be further increased by folding the rear bench seat. It is pretty well-shaped and you can load enough baggage for a weekend trip.
The Renault Duster comes with dual-front airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, front seatbelt reminders, and a speed alert system as standard. It also gets ESP, reverse camera, height-adjustable front seatbelts, and hill-start assist in top-line variants. One very good thing about the Renault Duster is that it also gets a speed limiter which is presented in very few cars.
The BS6 Duster is available two petrol engines: 1.5-litre naturally aspirated (106PS/142Nm) and a 1.3-liter turbocharged unit (156PS/254Nm). The 1.5-liter unit is only available with the 5-speed manual gearbox whereas the turbo-petrol can be had with either 6-speed manual or 7-step CVT automatic transmission. This newly added 1.3-litre turbo engine is co-developed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance along with Daimler. It is marketed in different states of tunning across the world. This engine is also used in some of Mercedes-Benz's entry-level models.
Recently we drove its turbocharged CVT model and we were surprised by its performance. It is the most powerful engine of its segment. Renault has paid proper attention to its refinement. However, the engine makes some noise but that will not trouble you much.
The vibrations are also beautifully controlled. The synergy between its engine and gearbox is amazing and it delivers a warm performance. There is steady torque at low-end whereas at mid-range it delivers a solid rush of power at around 5000-5500 RPM. Overall, this particular engine-gearbox combination won't disappoint you with its performance.
If you are the one who likes to play with the throttle then you won't get good fuel efficiency figures. The Renault claims an ARAI mileage of 16.4 kmpl with Duster Turbo. But in real conditions, expect a fuel efficiency around 10-11 kmpl in city conditions and 14-15kmpl on highways. Renault has also offered an auto start-stop function which helps to improves the mileage by a little margin.
Ride Quality and Handling
The ride quality of the Duster has always been its strong point and the story is no different even with the Duster Turbo. It gets Independent McPherson strut with coil spring at the front and a trailing arm with coil springs and a double-acting shock absorber at the rear. This suspension setup is superb for Indian roads. It passes road barriers and obstructions very smoothly and you will not feel the intensity of the pits inside the cabin. The ride feels very stable and planted even at the high speed. We really enjoyed pushing it hard.
The steering wheel too offers adequate feedback at both city and highway speed. But its tendency to come to the center sometimes creates a little trouble because it jerks in some conditions. The braking performance is satisfactory but it would have been better if rear disc brakes were also given.
Pros and Cons of Renault Duster
- Most powerful SUV in the segment
- Commendable ride quality
- Rugged exterior look
- More affordable than its rivals
- Cabin quality is questionable
- Ergonomic issues disgrace the driving experience
- Lacks on the features front
- Diesel and AWD variants are no longer available
The Renault Duster is the most powerful SUV of its segment. It also offers best-in-class ride quality. However, it lacks many comfort and convenience features compared to other cars in the segment. We believe, It seriously needs the generation upgrade. However, If you want to buy a car that has rugged appeal and offers great performance, furthermore modern comfort features are not a priority for you, then it can be a good option.