The Renault Duster will be remembered as a revolutionary product in India. Developed and designed by Renault’s Romanian subsidiary, Dacia, its arrival opened up a new segment of crossover SUVs since its launch in July 2012. Renault Duster ruled the space until Ford got the EcoSport – a smaller and cheaper car but with the same appeal. And then came the Hyundai Creta and the once market leader is now trailing. Renault has updated the Duster in 2016 to lend it a new lease of life.
The facelifted Renault Duster was first showcased at the Auto Expo 2016 and gets a redone fascia. It gets a new grille, revised headlamp design as well as a new design for the air intake in front. It also gets new front and rear scuff plates revised tail lamp assembly and 16-inch wheels. However, the overall design of the crossover has not been tampered with and it still retains its squat stance and model-defining flared wheel arches. The rear too remains the same as the current vehicle but now the exhaust pipe has been integrated into the rear diffuser assembly. However, one noticeable change to the Duster is the modified roof rails to increase the amount of support it can provide.
The Renault Duster received an equipment upgrade more than a year back with new clocks and a touch-screen infotainment system being offered with the entire range after being introduced with the Duster AWD. The new Duster carries over most of the interiors from the current vehicle and is offered with new seat upholstery options, power windows with anti-pinch and a contemporary multifunction steering wheel. It will also get navigation and Bluetooth connectivity like the current car. The adjuster knob for the retractable electrical wing mirrors has now come out from under the handbrake lever to its right place – the driver door trim. The rear seats are likely to remain unchanged as will the boot area. Renault currently offers a navigation pack with the Duster and we expect that this will become a standard feature on the RXZ diesel variant.!
The Renault Duster is currently offered in ten diesel and two petrol variants. Renault has added two new variants, the entry-level Base variant and the one-below-the-top RXS variant.
The engine line-up stays the same as before; a 1.5-litre diesel and a 1.6-litre petrol. The diesel is available in two configurations 84bhp and 200Nm and 108bhp and 240Nm while the petrol engine produces 102bhp and 145Nm of torque. The 84bhp diesel and the petrol engine have been mated to a five-speed manual while the 108bhp diesel has been mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Duster is also offered with the shift-on-fly all-wheel-drive option along with the standard front-wheel-drive setup. The most important addition to the new Duster is the automated-manual six-speed gearbox that is available with the 108bhp setup. The AWD though, is not being offered with the AMT transmission.
The new Duster has a herculean task ahead. It takes on the now established Hyundai Creta and also gets an automatic option to compete with the Hyundai. Against the S-Cross, the Duster has the ‘SUV’ advantage but the Maruti starts with a lower price tag. Its twin, the Nissan Terrano, will not pose much of a challenge as it is also due for a revamp. The Duster still has one of the best driving dynamics and All-wheel-drive - its aces to try and win over the competition.