The Renault Duster has engraved its name as one of the most successful, value for money Crossovers to grace the Indian soil. It has been almost 8 years since the Duster is present in the Indian market and it still holds fort despite facing rigorous competition from its rivals. When it was first launched, it didn’t have any major competition but now the market is flooded with its rivals. The Duster got a face-lift at the end of 2019 but due to our hectic schedule, we couldn’t get to drive it. As soon as we managed to get our hands on the latest iteration of this acclaimed crossover, we were keen to know whether the Duster still has it to take on the competition.
Here’s the detailed video review of the 2020 Renault Duster:
The Renault Duster has always come out as a muscular, brawny and a sturdy proposition. Even with the facelift, it retains the similar stance with some minor changes. The major visual changes out front are the new headlamps, new grille and newly designed bumper. The headlamps now incorporate projector headlamps with LED DRLs. The grille looks better than before too with its new triple wing design with chrome garnishing. Another major change is the structure which is developed to comply with the pedestrian safety norms of NCAP.
The rear looks familiar too with LED tail lamps with the same boxy and sturdy look. The rear bumper is greyed out to increase the overall visual appeal. The side stance hasn’t changed that much either. The new 16-inch Everest Dual-Tone diamond cut alloy wheels does lend it a more modern feel now. The roof is highlighted by rails with Duster branding on them making it look more SUV-like.
It might not look as modern or futuristic as its competition but the Renault Duster never intended to go down that road. It has always carried over the practical, no nonsense, rugged vibe with it and that has worked in its favour too.
What’s on the inside?
What you have on the inside matters and it matters even more when you’re choosing a car which belongs to this segment. Over the years, manufacturers have tried to load the cabin with premium features and quality components to make a better proposition for the buyer. Renault has tried too. When you step inside, the cabin looks functional, compared to the other cars in this segment. The quality of plastics isn’t class-leading but things do stand the test of time. The cabin looks familiar as there are no major changes. The AC vents are now rectangular which were round before. Renault has thrown in chrome garnishes here and there and a blue insert in the dashboard to make it look more premium and visually appealing. There’s new seat upholstery on offer too which looks slightly more premium than before.
The infotainment screen looks the same as before but now comes with additional features like the inclusion of connectivity options which include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The touch feedback is better than before and so is the resolution of the screen. Also, it now analyses the driving pattern of the driver and gives necessary inputs too. Another change in the cabin is the addition of two tweeters which have definitely improved the audio quality. You will also find climate control and cruise control which are definitely welcome additions.
Renault Duster is renowned for the comfort it has on offer for both the driver and the passenger. That hasn’t changed in the facelift either as it still gets the ultra-comfortable seats we are a big fan of. Even the rear is a nice place to be in the Duster as it offers ample head, shoulder and knee room to the passengers seating behind. The rear seats miss out on a couple of important things too like door pockets and rear AC vents. The boot space, however, is among the best in class and the capacity stands at 475 litres.
The safety department includes two airbags which come as standard while the top spec RXZ variant also includes ESP, traction control and hill hold assist.
The interior might not be that modern and luxurious like the rest of the competition. Sure, the other cars in this segment offer some features which will make you worship the Gods of Technology but where Duster shines is the overall comfort quotient. The cabin is airy and spacious, couple that with plush suspension and well bolstered seats and you’re in for a magic carpet ride.
Engine and Performance
Renault didn’t mess around with the mechanicals of the Duster that much and that is the case with the engine department as well. We still get the same 1.5 litre petrol engine which churns out 106ps of power and 142 nm torque.
The Duster comes with two diesel options; both are of the same capacity that is 1.5 litre but comes in two trims. One churns out 85ps of power coupled with 200 nm of pulling force while the other puts out 110ps of power with 250 NM of torque. The former’s power delivery is linear while the latter is peppier but experiences minor turbo lag.
The gearshifts are mostly smooth but the short-throw stick could do with a little more smoothness. The performance will get you through your regular driving rendezvous. Renault Duster, in this aspect too, retains its no nonsense character and that again, works in its favour.
The 1.5 litre petrol is mated to a 5-Speed manual transmission while the 110 ps 1.5 litre diesel gets a 6-Speed automatic transmission as an option too. The 85ps variant of the 1.5 litre diesel, however, makes do with a 5speed manual. The ARAI fuel efficiency of the diesel motor is rated at 17 kmpl which is pretty good for the car of this size.
Ride and handling
The Duster is one of the best car in its segment when it comes to comfortable ride quality and overall driving dynamics. Renault claims that they offer best in class suspension setup in the Duster and they actually deliver! Duster sees itself gliding over potholes without hampering the comfort of the people sitting inside.
The handling too, as they say, is car like and it remains planted while dealing with the not so straight parts of the road. It remains well composed and poised even while dealing with the undulations Indian roads have in spades.
Even when you’re seated behind the steering wheel, you will enjoy driving it. And that is enough said for the car which is big in proportions and has a ground clearance of 205 MM.
There’s minimal body roll while taking the corners and the feedback from the steering wheel too incites confidence in the driver.
The Petrol variants of the Duster are priced between 8-10 lakh while the diesel variants start from 9.3 lakh. The top spec RXZ variant with AWD will set you back by 12.5 lakh. No BS6 version has been introduced, yet.
One of the key highlights of the Duster has always been its aggressive pricing. Renault has placed the Duster as the most affordable offering in its segment. It might not be as premium as its rivals but it doesn’t cost you that much either.
To sum the review up, if you’re looking for an efficient, practical and no nonsense Crossover which comes with an AWD option and won’t cost you a fortune either, Renault Duster still makes a strong case for itself. It doesn’t possess the bling factor some of its rivals do, but it is the most comfortable and driver friendly car in its segment.
Now that the BS6 emission norms are kicking in hard, a BS6 compliant variant of the Duster shpuld be out soon. However, it will most likely be a petrol-only model. The outgoing Duster is being offered with lesser prices and now is the time to own this Crossover which once took the Indian market by storm. Buy it for its practicality, comfort and its ability to turn bad roads into well-paved tarmac.