Turbo-petrol engines are being considered as one of the deadliest ammunition the current crop of vehicles are coming equipped with. The compact-SUV segment in India is currently facing a ruthless onslaught from the Koreans, namely Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos. While they do have a wide variety of firearms to gun down their rivals, the Renault Duster has pulled out the big daddy of all the guns, the most powerful engine in its class!
In its BS6 form, the Renault Duster was available with a 1.5-litre NA petrol engine only, after the carmaker decided to discontinue diesel engines for its portfolio in India. However, a brand new 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine was showcased at the Auto Expo as a replacement for the punchy diesel and now, the same engine has made its way to the Duster.
We have already done a detailed review of the Duster before and the now that we know that the Turbo-petrol Duster doesn’t sport any major changes apart from the engine, we are going to focus on that only.
The new motor now makes the Duster the most powerful petrol-powered SUV in its segment. The 1.3L Turbo Petrol engine is a BSVI compliant motor that offers power and torque of 156PS @ 5500 rpm and 254 Nm @1600 rpm respectively. The modern engine is equipped with technologies like Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) which provides high performance and efficiency, Dual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) for higher torque at lower rpm and reduced emissions. The performance numbers are quite impressive as well. The Turbo Duster does the 0-100 run in 10.5 seconds, making it a second faster than its rivals.
The peak torque starts getting produced at just 1600 rpm and it pulls strongly from there. No matter where you are in the rev-range, you never feel that the Duster is struggling to move ahead. The 7-step CVT is devoid of any lag and is quick and responsive as well which is quite impressive as well. Because CVT transmissions aren’t known for their responsive and enthusiastic nature. We were a bit sceptical when we first got to know that Renault has gone for a CVT rather than a DCT for such a peppy motor but the CVT works in tandem with the engine pretty well. The engine too, is devoid of any gruffness. Just so you know, the engine is developed by Daimler and has been used in some of the Mercs. The ARAI certified mileage is 16 kmpl but expect the mileage to hover in the 10-15 kmpl range.
Ride and handling
This is another department where the Duster just steals the show. It has always been renowned for its driving dynamics and thankfully, that has retained over the years. Its rivals might be high on their features list but when it comes to overall driving pleasure, the Duster blows it out of the park. The steering is very communicative and you know exactly what is happening on the road. We will go as far as saying that the Duster’s steering wheel is one of the best units we have experienced, across other segments too! Then comes its exceptional ride quality. With its 205mm of ground clearance and a pliant suspension setup, the Duster is remarkable and glides over uneven surfaces.
Because of the abundance of power and torque, one can also feel torque steer which becomes even more pronounced when you start pushing it around the bends. This turbo-petrol unit is slapped on the same underpinnings and this might be the prime reason behind it. We love the way Duster handles but if Renault updates its underpinnings, we feel that then it will be able to utilize its bucket load of power in a more appropriate manner.
Interior and Exterior
In terms of visual differentiation, the turbo petrol Duster gets crimson red accents on the front grille and tailgate, roof rails & fog lamp cover. The tri-winged chrome grille, projector headlamps with LED DRLs remain while the R17 wheels get a Forza diamond-cut pattern. With this new engine, the Duster continues to offer a ground clearance of 205 mm, along with high approach and departure angles.
The cabin is covered in midnight black upholstery while the seats get premium blue accents. The infotainment system is a 17.64 cm touchscreen MediaNAV Evolution that comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, voice recognition and EcoGuide – a system that monitors driving patterns and provides guidelines to improve efficiency. The Duster now offers Arkamys-tuned audio experience with 4 speakers and 2 front tweeters for enhanced sound output. To further enhance fuel efficiency and lower emissions, the turbo petrol Duster comes with Smart Start/Stop function which automatically switches off the engine when the car is stopped and re-starts on driver demand detection.
The turbo-petrol Renault Duster exists in a segment which is currently ruled by cars which feel more tech-laden and more premium in every aspect. The Duster doesn’t possess any frills or pompousness but it scores big where it always has and the added performance by the turbo-petrol unit adds to it. If you are solely looking for a driver’s SUV which is communicative and will reward you at times, the Renault Duster turbo-petrol is the real deal. It will drive you away from the shiny world of materialistic and creature comforts, and at the same time, will plaster a wide grin on your face. And oh, did we tell you that its top-end variant will cost you INR 4 Lakh less than the top-end variants of its rivals?