The Renault Duster has been the budget go-anywhere compact SUV since it was launched way back in 2012. This vehicle changed the market dynamics completely and also gave Renault a head start in India. With a constant deterioration in the conditions of roads, SUVs have become a popular option for most new buyers. Renault went one step further and launched an All Wheel Drive variant to take the Duster’s rugged and off-roading capabilities to the next level.
On the outside, Renault has given the Duster facelift some cosmetic enhancements but nothing major. The quality levels are average and the fit and finish is satisfactory at best. Although, Renault has added a touch screen infotainment system with built-in navigation. It is a little slow to respond and takes a long time to boot.
The interiors also feel dated and equipment levels are not high either. On a side note, the boot is extremely spacious and with the rear seats folded, it can carry a lot of luggage. While the interiors have a basic feel, the cabin is quite practical with a good number of storage spaces. The seats are comfortable too and there is good space on the inside.
On the other hand, the 1.5-litre diesel engine which churns out a healthy 110 PS of power and 245 Nm of torque offers great performance. There is virtually no turbo lag and the engine is very smooth. The 6-speed manual transmission syncs well and keeps the engine going. We got a fuel economy of around 12.2 km/l in Auto mode where the car automatically switches over to All Wheel Drive mode if needed. The fuel economy on 2WD mode is similar to the regular Duster.
Even the dynamics of the Renault Duster are very good. The ride quality is phenomenal and the steering offers great feedback. Handling too is very precise and the Duster is an enthusiast’s dream come true with its rugged nature and excellent dynamics. The suspension is so good, it just gobbles up potholes for breakfast and glides over bad roads.
Coming to off-roading abilities of the Renault Duster, it gets very decent approach, roll over and departure angles which can take on almost any road condition. The high ground clearance and flared wheel arches mean that you don’t have to worry about damaging your SUV when you decide to go off-road. Switch the car into AWD mode and it will help you recover from almost any situation.
In spite of the great off-road capabilities of the Duster, if you are someone who doesn’t encounter bad roads on a regular basis or doesn’t have the thrill of off-roading, the front-wheel-drive variant is more than enough. Something which the Duster excels at is reliability as this car will never fail you even in the toughest of terrains.
With the 7 years the Duster has been on sale in India, Renault has tried to update it and keep it relevant amongst its competition. It has plenty of engine and transmission options including an AMT for that added convenience. The AMT offers a lot of convenience and has decent driveability. It is ideal for someone looking to have the practicality of a diesel and the utility of an automatic.