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Renault Duster the price warrior SUV!


duster duster

 

Renault seem to be hell-bent on changing the commo perception about European cars in India with the Duster, their price warrior SUV!

This is the big one for Renault India. Not just in size, but the sheer importance of this SUV to be successful for the company's future. The Duster is a popular compact SUV sold internationally with the Dacia badge. Renault India have made several changes and reduced NHV levels so that the vehicle would be better suited and more appealing to the Indian customers. The obvious visible changes include the new chrome grille with the Renault badge, roof rails, prominent sump guards and new bumpers.

The bonnet looks rather squat and flat and would have looked better if it had more rake, merging with the 'A' pillar. The accentuated wheel-arches and tail-lamp highlights make it look impressive even from the rear. The Duster has great proportions and good road presence, a must for SUVs, and due to its compact size it's not over-imposing either. You get an option of full leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob or you may opt for fabric upholstery. The dashboard has a combination of glossy black and hard matt-beige plastic.
Although the quality of the material is not exceptional, it can be acceptable since it was built for a price. The centre console is flat and neatly laid out, though the 'piano black' shroud could have been of better plastic. There are a couple of cup-holders and only the front doors get storage pockets.

The driving proportions are spot on and there's good overall visibility from the driver's seat, since you sit high. You also get a fairly decent music system and reverse sensors as added features along with ABS, EBD and air-bags. If you are used to Japanese cars, then locating the buttons and switches around the dash might take a little while.

For instance, the door's central locking button is at the bottom of the console, the ORVM adjuster is near the hand-brake and the audio controls, as in most Renault cars, are behind the steering wheel. In reality these are minor issues and in a couple of hours you'll know exactly what's where.

In fact, there's also a second air-conditioning unit for the rear passengers. But a single vent would direct the draft in just one direction, neglecting the other portion of the cabin and hamper the leg-room. Powering this SUV is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol motor producing 104 PS and 145 NM. While the diesel option will get Renault's most popular 1.5-litre dCI engine, in two different states of tune, the variable geometry turbo equipped produces 110 PS, which we got to drive, and the other detuned to 85 PS. The more powerful diesel motor comes with a slick six-speed transmission, while the 85 PS is mated with a five-speed gearbox.

We drove on the test track which has varied terrain to get the maximum feedback form the vehicle. The motor is refined and has been tuned for fuel efficiency with a claimed figure of over 20 kpl, but the 110 PS of power seems to be adequate. Extra care has been taken to reduce NVH levels and though the diesel motor is audible, once inside the cabin, there is barely any vibration or noise from the diesel motor. Currently it will be available only in the 4 x 2 option, though they have a 4 x 4 version ready that can be introduced if there is enough demand.

The Renault Duster brings French refinement and class-leading ride to this segment that none of the current competitors offer. But the competitors do offer more features such as 4 x 4, reverse camera, ESP, better interior, even third-row seating, not to forget the brand images the companies have built up over the years.

The Duster's biggest USP is its price, between Rs 8 and 12 lakh since it is being manufactured here with up to 80 per cent localisation. It is a make or break product for Renault in India and the company will be happy to see the overwhelming response the SUV has got since it launch in July. With all the right mix on offer, the Duster might hit a home run in the country.

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