On the eve of our 69th Independence Day, OnCars in association with Renault India started out on a unique mission to 'capture the Spirit of Freedom' travelling all the way from the National Capital to Wagah Border in a Renault Duster. Why this particular choice, well the Duster is one of the most liked and talked about compact SUV's in market as off today. Its exterior design with those bulging wheel arches really make the naked eye take notice and not to forget the overall profile which is compact yet very SUV like.
Characterized by a bold front end, the Renault Duster caters to a chunky chrome grille comprising of its logo, double barrel headlamps, two-tone curvaceous bumper that provides an air dam towards the lower half along with a pair of fog lamps. Apart from the bulges, its side profile features a pain and simple design with a single sharp line running right across.The roof rails does give the Duster more substance and appeal. To the rear, its carved out tailgate with elegant looking tail lamp clusters complements the design as a whole.
Like the exterior design, the interiors too are very likable. Especially, the dual tone treatment given to the cabin makes it feel very bright and roomy. The layout of the front dash is fairly simple yet practical for use. The quality of plastics on board does not disappoint either as the level of comfort is ideal for use this SUV within the city as well as the highway. There is ample of head, shoulder and leg room for occupants upfront and at the rear. Well cushioned seats on the Duster, allows one to thoroughly enjoy the ride even if it is long distance as there is good under thy and back support. The center console for that matter provides ample of space for storage, it also doubles up for an entertainment system which offers features like a CD player, Radio, MP3, Bluetooth Connectivity, AUX-IN and an USB port. Crucial for any long distance trip, this music system work well to provide decent sound quality. For more storage, the cabin further provides 2 cup holders, 1 bottle holder console which is located right in center of front seats and rear parcel tray. Its boot on the contrary offers 410 litres of space, which can be increased to 1064 litre by just folding the rear row down. As far as safety goes, Renault Duster comes with dual front airbag, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors to mention a few.
Since this was a drive of 1000 odd kilometers, the Duster which comes in both petrol and diesel had us opt for the oil burner (Diesel) in this case. The 1.5 TDCi in question is further divided into two variants based on the overall power out being 85 PS and 110 PS. The latter is what we had as this particular diesel variant features a 1461cc Common Rail Diesel Engine producing 110 PS of power with 245 Nm of torque. Mated to a 6-speed manual transmission which caters to slick shifts, the SUV hardly features any lag. The acceleration is linear while the overall driving feel is pretty good.
Must say, its well suited to our Indian conditions as the Duster eats up almost everything which comes in its way be is potholes, broken roads, slush, uneven terrain demonstrating its supremacy despite being a two wheel drive. Mind you, Renault does have a four wheel drive version of the Duster on offer for those who would really like to take their vehicle out in the wilderness. Its suspension is well sorted and does not really trouble the occupants no matter what surface you are on. While handling is fairly good in the Duster.
Clubbing all thoughts and putting 'Freedom Drive' into perspective, one must say that the Renault Duster is one of the most robust and masculine SUV around in the Indian market. Its biggest USP is the segment leading ground clearance of 210mm, which comes in handy due to our ever changing road conditions especially during the monsoons. Cabin for that matter is practical for all sort of uses be the city or for highway without any compromise on comfort. The 1.5 TDCi engine under the skin is well versed and equipped to deliver desired performance required to tackle Indian road conditions. All in all, Renault have packaged the Duster to really deliver the best to an Indian consumer.