The compact SUV segment has been growing at an impressive rate which is why from time to time we see new introductions into the Indian auto space. Of this it, it was first Renault who set the tone for a segment that would lead the way popularizing this sort of SUV’s. The Duster for that matter has been the front runner for the French manufacture since its launch back 2012 and now with advent of competitors like the Hyundai Creta, Nissan Terano, Mahindra Scorpio among others; it was time that the company brought in some change. Thus the 2016 Renault Duster has to offers 32 design and technological upgrades that would make it potent and apt for the end consumer. So what are they?
In comparisons to what we have already been seeing on this SUV, the new facelifted Duster caters to a single – slat chrome grille that instantly catches the eye. Blending in seamlessly are a pair of Hawk Eye headlamps on either sides followed by a redesigned front bumper comprising of a silver chuff plate right in the center with circular fog lamps. Its sides profile remains more or less the same with the addition of electrically foldable ORVM’S with integrated turn indicators. Though the one of the two (AWD) variant that we got to sample featured carbon fibre covers for these mirrors, which needed, made it look really sporty. The availability of 16 inch Gun Metal Finish Alloy wheels and roof rails really provide the Duster with an SUV feel. To round up things, the presence newly shaped Waterfall LED tail lights completes the refreshed look of this rugged looking SUV.
Over the years, Renault did try to induce more features into the Duster to keep attracting more and more customers towards the Duster. However, this new introduction is more vibrant than before and we tell you how. To begin, the quality of plastics have improved drastically which was a concern earlier. The front dash has a couple of tweaks here and there. The instrument cluster remains the same, however Renault has provided for a shift indicator in the Manual AWD which is an added benefit. Steering is also the same with mounted controls and so is the touch screen infotainment system featuring Navigation (that does take time to understand and getting used to especially while operating), USB port, Bluetooth connectivity among others.
However, what has been added is a Piano Black finish centre console, different colour surrounds for ac vents depending upon the selected variant, new circular controls for the air conditioner and most important AMT gear stick. The New Duster also features refreshed fabric upholstery, which looks good and at the same time is comfortable too. As for space, rear portions of the front seats have been reworked upon to provide a bit more of knee room. One feature that still did not make it to this edition is a rear a/c vent. We wonder why?
Engine and Performance
Apart from the introduction of a 6-speed Easy-R AMT transmission, the new Renault Duster is the same as the outgoing model. It features both petrol and diesel variants. The former is powered by a 1.6 litre engine that is capable of churning out 103 bhp of power with 148 Nm torque mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile the latter is a K9K 1.5 litre dCi engine that offers two states of tunes- 108 bhp and 85 bhp. The ones here in question is the AWD and AMT variant that feature the more powerful 108 bhp K9K 1.5 litre dCi engine in both.
Starting straight with the All Wheel Drive, there is no doubt that previous version was a winner in its category. However, this time around due to the use of new ‘CMO10’ & ‘T4 E&E’ architecture the levels of refinement seem to have improved. The NVH levels in the diesel are restricted to a minimal as the 6-speed manual transmission does reasonably well to provide decent shifts. But the significant change is the introduction of an all new 6-speed Easy-R AMT transmission. We all know that automatic variants are slowly but gradually catching the attention of customers in India and Renault for that matter have sensed an opportunity out here. As a result, offering 3 modes – R,N & D (Reverse, Neutral and Drive) Easy-R AMT is very useful for stop go use especially while negotiating city traffic. However, when driven on the open highway there are a few niggles, the most prominent being jerky shifts especially at the time of acceleration. Another aspect to watch out for in the AMT variant is noisy cabin as the NVH levels have not been given much importance like the AWD.
With 205mm ground clearance, the Renault Duster has been a capable SUV. The use of new ‘CMO10’ & ‘T4 E&E’ architecture on board has meant that its ride and handling characteristic get further enhanced. Suspension setup in the AMT or the AWD is more than capable to taking on any sort of terrain while the handling on both is fairly good.
Renault India has taken the first step by introducing a 6-Speed Easy R AMT into their popular SUV – Duster. A move that will definitely reap benefits for users who are on a lookout for convenience, comfort and features along with affordability. Minor exterior and interior changes have meant that the All-New Duster offers more bells and whistles to a SUV enthusiast to seek both city and outdoor adventure. Now the Renault Duster has more bling in reference to aftermarket fitments which can be added at the time of booking your vehicle to give Hyundai’s Creta a run for its money.