Renault Duster Overview

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?  Check for Renault cars Price, Review, Features & Specifications at CarzPrice

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Renault Duster Look

The dual headlamp cluster looks nice with chrome edging on the new Renault Duster. They are connected with parallel running lines at the centre with a large Renault Logo. The parallel lines are place on the age old honeycomb grill of the duster. The fog lamps are placed at the base of the bumper with a large silver cladding in the centre. The bonnet is flat on the new Renault Duster and the whole looks gives a feel of aggression with classiness.

There have not been major changes but the small ones are not insignificant either. There is a silver strip that runs along the running board adding to the up market feel. The indicators have moved their location to the rear view mirrors and looks great. The thing that will attract you the most are the matt black five spoke alloys with a thin silver lining running along the circumference. The roof rails have now gotten a really sleek Duster badging. This is a strange place for badging but the Duster manages to pull the looks off very well. The major difference at the rear is the tail lamp going full LED and the bumper getting a really large silver cladding. The thick chrome strip also has the Duster badging.

Renault Duster Comfort

The interior too is familiar but the upgrades and changes made do go a long way in making it a lot more user friendly. For starters the ridiculous ORVM adjustment switch is no longer below the handbrake and has now found a new position on the driver’s side. There are also a set of new AC vents which get a lovely contrast surround option on a few select variants. The new centre console is smart and not overdone in any way.

The Duster also gets climate control now but the touchscreen infotainment system is pretty much similar to what we got earlier. That said, the screen position has been moved slightly lower than before making it difficult to read the map at a quick glance or do simple acts like playing a new song or choosing another radio station. The quality of the plastics too have improved over the early cars but there are still niggles on certain panels that continue to persist. Other features include cruise control, a reversing camera with parking sensors and GPS navigation which comes as standard on the top of the line variant.

Although Renault has skipped on the leather seat option, the fabric seats do offer a sense of richness with its dual textured. Again, as with the accents on the dashboard, certain variants like the AWD get unique fabrics and colors that do look a lot better. That said, the issue with the driver’s side seat, which tends to rock back and forth when put on its lowest setting still exists as it did on the original Duster and that, in our opinion is frankly unacceptable.

Rear seats are comfortable but do not have a 60/40 folding split. Legspace seems to have improved over the earlier car due to a scooped out front seat and the omission of the rear AC vents. That said, in a market like India, we would have much rather preferred a rear AC system instead of extra few centimeters of legspace.

Renault Duster Gearbox

As before, the Duster is available with a 104PS, 1.6-litre petrol engine, an 85PS, 1.5-litre diesel and a 110PS, 1.5-litre diesel. Again, front-wheel drive is standard though the 110PS diesel can also be opted with all-wheel drive. What is new is the option of an automated manual transmission or AMT for the 110PS front-wheel drive Duster. Renault calls the system Easy-R (to be read as ‘easier’) and, well, it does make driving in heavy traffic less of a chore.

At mild throttle inputs in average scenarios, automatic gearshifts on the six-speed ’box are timely and largely predictable. Gearshifts aren’t exactly seamless, but unlike the characteristically abrupt shifts of other AMTs, the Duster’s gearbox swaps ratios more progressively. We suspect the K9K 1.5 diesel engine’s relatively heavier flywheel has a smoothening effect. The Duster Automatic is the first AMT to come with hill-start assist too, which allows for safe getaways on an incline.

Where the Duster’s AMT unit does get caught out is when you press down hard on the accelerator, say to overtake. There’s a bit of a delay before the gearbox downshifts to the right gear and in general, there’s no escaping the characteristic AMT ‘head-nod’ or pause in power between gearshifts. Gearshifts are expectantly not as fluid as on the Creta’s more sophisticated torque converter unit, but its safe to say this is the best AMT in the market today.

The Easy-R gearbox does give drivers the option to shift manually too. In manual mode, gearshifts are nicer and what’s good is that the electronics don’t intervene with an upshift right till 5000rpm. This is an important point because it gives you better control especially through corners and on hilly roads.

Earlier Dusters were known for transmitting road shock through the steering wheel and while this has been minimised, there’s still a fair bit of judder that filters through the steering whilst cornering on rough roads. Handling on the whole though is surefooted and predictable and the Duster’s legendary ability to flatten bad roads is just as good. The suspension is one of the highlights on the Duster. While it can come across as a tad stiff at low speeds, it absorbs just about everything at higher speeds. The AWD version gets independent rear suspension that is a touch more supple and sure-footed but, as mentioned, it doesn’t come with an AMT option, which is only reserved for the front-wheel-drive version.

Renault Duster Driving

The New Renault Duster AMT is surprisingly a delight to drive. What came to notice instantly is that it responds well to throttle inputs. Drive with a heavy foot and the upshifts get delayed, thereby providing adequate power. The AMT is very easy to drive in the city. The good part is that the usual lag during shifts, that AMTs have, is reduced and is hardly felt while driving in a relaxed manner. Its only when you push the New Renault Duster AMT hard that the lag is evident.

Another impressive thing about the New Renault Duster AMT was that while driving in the manual mode, rev-limiter comes in to play only beyond 5000 rpm. This gives ample room to the driver for maneuvering the SUV as desired and is especially useful while driving in hilly areas and ghats. I would’ve preferred a slightly taller gear selector lever in the AMT. The lever in the New Renault Duster AMT feels a tad short and hence one needs to stretch out a bit more than normal, while driving in manual mode.

Renault Duster Safety

Talking about safety, the 2016 Renault Duster comes with dual front airbags and ABS. The AMT transmission also gets features like Hill Hold and ESP. There is also a traction control system on offer which does its job pretty well should you decide to have some fun around the twisties. In terms of after-sales service, Renault does have a not-so-good network and it just doesn’t match the quality levels of Hyundai for that matter.

Renault Duster Cost

Renault Duster Ex-Showroom Price in Hyderabad ranges from 8,55,174/- (Duster RxE Petrol) to 13,71,075/- (Duster RxZ Diesel 110PS 4×2 MT). Get best offers for Renault Duster from Renault Dealers in Hyderabad. Check for Duster price in Hyderabad at Carzprice

Renault Duster Conclussion

The Renault Duster was always an impressive product and now with the upgrade it’s better than before – interiors are plusher, there’s more standard equipment and it looks even more macho now. Plus, there’s the additional draw of an affordable automatic version. It still has its shortcomings, of course – for a car that costs Rs 15 lakh or thereabouts, the plastics needed to look and feel richer, and the AMT – with its slow-witted nature – just doesn’t cut it. A modern torque converter or a DCT gearbox would have been the right fit for this price. So, as we see it, the Duster to buy, continues to be the AWD variant. And it is in this trim with its added capability that it’s a great alternative to the Hyundai Creta.

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