Introduction: Duster is designed and developed by Dacia, a Romanian subsidiary of Renault Group. Based on the Logan platform, Duster was first unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. Sensing the demand for compact SUVs growing across the globe, Renault had already planned to market the Duster in countries like India, Russia, Iran, South Africa, South America, and some countries of Europe.
First launched back in 2012, Renault Duster became an instant hit. Offering a great package where it met customer demands like price, mileage, road presence, looks, SUV, etc, Duster was launched at a starting price of Rs 7.19 lakhs. But today, due to rise in input costs, and a decent demand, price of Duster starts at Rs 8 lakhs. (all prices above are ex-showroom). Soon, with the help of rising Duster sales, Renault India entered the list of top 10 markets for the Renault Group in the world.
Post launch of cars like Ford EcoSport, and Nissan Terrano, Duster sales have been affected. From an average of 5,000+ units being sold monthly earlier, the sales now average about 3,200. This in spite of demand increasing in the segment. Renault hopes the new AWD will help them get more sales.
Exteriors: Considering that the Duster Facelift is already launched, it was expected that Renault India will launch the Duster AWD in facelift avatar in India. But, no change as far as overall design is concerned. The Duster AWD looks exactly same as the normal Duster. But, it will be easy to recognize an AWD Duster. Thanks to blackened headlights, decals on the side, new grey alloys, and a 4×4 logo at the rear.
Interiors: Just like the exteriors, interiors too get a few changes.
Three spoke steering wheel with cruise control button, and revised instrument panel with chrome surround on three dials. Centre console with Media-NAV enabled touchscreen system takes care of Bluetooth connectivity for audio and phone calls. It also features navigation, AUX, USB and radio. Below the screen, is the hazard light button, and unlock door button. Instead of both lock and unlock, the Duster AWD only has lock button, which is a smart move. The air-condition controls are just below, and just below that is the most important feature of the AWD, the knob to control the transmission, which has three modes – 2WD, AUTO, and LOCK (permanent 4×4). Next to it are ESC and ECO mode buttons.
In dark, these dials illuminate, giving an easy access. Also, the responsiveness of the touchscreen is a liittle bit disappointing, and so is the quality of speakers.
The digital instrument cluster takes care of some much needed information, distance to empty, trip meters, next service, fuel meter, average kmph, temperature outside, mileage, etc.
For driver ease, there is enough space to keep all your important belongings around you. Apart from the long glove box, which can fit in a file with ease, there is also room to keep things like your glasses, change, bottles, etc around.
Seats are offered in a sporty colour combination of red and grey. They look great, but could have offered better comfort. Driver seat is not height adjLegroom, headroom and luggage space is enough for five adults out for some weekend fun. There is also a spare wheel, just in case you got stuck with a flat tyre.
Performance: Powered by Renault’s 1.5 liter k9k diesel engine, the Duster AWD is only available in one tune. This engine delivers 110 PS at 3,900 rpm and 245 Nm torque at 1,750 rpm. Mated to a six speed gearbox and a 4WD system, this car can easily take on bad roads, rock laden surface, muddy surface, anything where the average car would not dare to go.
During offroading uphill or downhill, all you have to get the car in neutral, shift to LOCK differential (will be indicated on digital console), put in first gear, and slowly leave the accelerator. The transmission will take care of the climb or fall without any accelerator input, thanks to features like Hill start assist, ESP – Electronic Stability programme and Anti-Skid resistance (ASR). We managed to drive this car for kilometres and kilometres in places where there were no roads. When we were done, we were surprised that that car was not rattling a bit nor damaged, giving you complete peace of mind.
On highways, the car keep its composure. In fact, the NVH levels of the AWD are much more refined than the 2WD Duster. The pick-up and mid range power deliver of the AWD is good, pull lasts till about 5,000 rpm. In city’s stop and go traffic, you can stay in second gear and save yourself from some gear changing. Renault claims fuel efficiency of 19.72 kmpl, what we got was a decent 13 kmpl. Top speed stability is good, but the steering dampening suffers when taking a curve at high speed. 4WD wont work at high speeds. We noted that after you cross speed of 80 kmph, the transmission will shift from Lock to Auto. Brakes have good bite, in spite of the added weight as compared to 2WD Duster.
Verdict: Priced about Rs 90k more than the 2WD Duster, Duster AWD is worth the extra money. The 4WD stickers gets you noticed in the crowd. Perfect for those who love nature trailing with friends and family in an SUV, spend a night out under the sky, carry your own tent, the Duster AWD comes as a complete package.
Why would you buy Duster AWD
Why would you not buy Duster AWD
Below is a chart giving vital techspecs of Duster, and how it stands against rivals.