Tuesday, January 19
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Review: Renault Duster 1.3L Turbo

If you’ve kept a close watch on Renault’s history in India, you’d soon begin to understand the importance of the Duster SUV, for it established the brands roots in India, making the SUV hugely popular in India. Its rugged design, superb practicality and sought after suspension made it a perfect formula for the Indian car buyer. But having been around for close to 10 years now, the rivalry in the segment has grown massively with multiple offerings from various brands. Renault couldn’t have possibly ignored that, so they decided to bring out the Duster with some subtle cosmetic revisions, and of course, a lovely new engine. We take it for a spin to see if it has the might to face the fight.

Some important tweaks

The Renault cars has always been a butch-looking, well-shaped SUV right since its introduction in our market in 2012. And even today, it doesn’t look like something you’d ignore at a signal. The design is refreshingly newer and more modern than before, and it does get some highlights in the form of a new front grille with red highlights, a revised bumper design, new wheels and new badging too. It can also be had in some new shades, like the new Caspian blue.

In the cabin, however, things tend to look a bit dated. When considering other SUVs in its segment, the Duster’s cabin feels rather too basic along with a lot of hard plastics around. Other SUVs have it for breakfast in this department, but the interior remains functional and there’s ample legroom and headroom for its occupants. And then, there’s the huge, 475-litre boot to serve on long journeys. In terms of features, it is loaded with xenon or LED lights, ventilated seats, a sunroof, dual airbags, ABS and EBD.

Riding the wave

The Duster has been renowned for its terrific ride quality, and in the new model, it still remains. No matter what road you are on, at whatever speed, the Duster simply demolishes all that comes in its way, making the cabin a comfortable place to be in. It also feels reassuring at high speeds, and the SUV remains planted at all times. In fact, we think it has got the best ride characteristics in its class.

That turbo feel

On to the new engine now. This 1.3-litre, turbo petrol engine comes with 50% more power than the 1.5-litre diesel engine it replaces. It puts out 153bhp, and the turbocharged engine impresses with its response, thanks to the linear power delivery. It also loves to rev all the way to the redline.

The new Duster retains its good handling attributes, and the new engine only makes things better. The mid-range is strong and the peppy top-end makes it cruise at high speeds without any fuss. Dealing with city traffic is a boon too, because of its immediate in-gear acceleration.

The steering though continues to kick back, but body control is good. Around corners, this steering strait is quite bothersome.

Calling it a day

The new engine has definitely given it some much needed charm, and it continues to be a SUV to drive, with high seating position, good visibility, thanks to the massive glasshouse and of course, the turbo’s responsive nature. And the wonderful suspension setup only adds to its appeal. The massive boot is great for vacations, and does most of its duties well. However, the shortcomings remain its to basic cabin, low-rent quality of plastics and lack of competitive features list. But having been priced under the ₹ 14 lakh mark, it makes it a value-for-money proposition.  Also, read the latest car comparisons, only at autoX.

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