Renault Duster Long Term
Car Tested: Renault Duster 110 PS RxZ; 85 PS RxL (Option)
Kms Done: 8125 kms
Mileage: 110 PS – 12.48 km/l (mostly city running), 16.35 km/l (best), 11.36 km/l (worst);
85 PS – 13.51 km/l (mostly city running), 17.41 km/l (best), 11.92 km/l (worst)
Fuel Cost: Rs. 36,250/-
Rs. per km: Rs. 4.46/-
Major Repair: None
Service Cost: Rs 7300/-
The Renault Duster is an excellent package offering good ride quality and interior room.
When you think of Renault, it has to be the Duster which comes to the mind first. That’s how deep the brand has got etched into our minds, thanks to just one vehicle. Timing was everything, getting the right vehicle at the right time is always a challenge but Renault got it spot on with the Duster. With market preferences changing periodically, the demand for an affordable SUV was high and the Duster came and fulfilled just that. We have reviewed the Duster in detail in the past and our initial long term impression were very positive too. On this test we drove both the 110 PS and 85 PS versions. We bid farewell to this SUV after putting it through more than 8000 grueling kilometers and pen down our final report.
The design has gone down very well with the Indian population. Typical SUV styling, muscular wheel arches, large tyres, spacious boot and generous interior room is something which every SUV buyer ticks and the Duster has it all. Though the rear styling is not too contemporary, it grows on you with time. The front and side look good and the Duster is a true SUV in proportion. There are subtle differences between the two versions besides the power output. The 110 PS version get aluminum colored front and rear skid plates while the 85 PS version has it in all black. Besides this, the 110 PS model gets silver coloured external rear view mirrors and the 85 PS gets body coloured ones.
The interiors are quite average but honestly that’s not something you would expect from a car which costs on the upside of 14 lakhs on road (110 PS). In all fairness, even after putting the car through the worst of roads, potholes and an adventurous off-road trip, there is no rattling from the dashboard nor does anything come loose but at this price, a lot more is expected, something which its evil twin Nissan Terrano has got it right (but at a price). The same Duster is exported and sold in the United Kingdom for a slightly lower price.
It takes a while getting used to the audio controls which are mounted behind the steering wheel on the right side, however they work well once you get the hang of it. Sound quality again is strictly average. The newer version of the Renault Duster gets a touch screen audio system which is pretty good. Bluetooth connectivity is provided and you can also stream music directly from your device. The 110 PS version has a rear AC vent which is quite convenient in the summers but makes three people at the rear a tight fit. The 85 PS Duster does not get a rear AC vent. Seats are comfortable and none of the passengers complained on a one stop trip to Goa. The boot is very handy, can fit the entire family’s luggage (475-litres) with still enough room for odds and ends.
Cost cutting is evident and some bits are not impressive at all. For starters the driver’s seat height adjuster is more of a ‘jugaad’ and is quite flimsy. The doors do not have a rubber beading and one problem we faced was that on hard cornering, the cabin lights would flicker as the sensor would loose contact with the door momentarily. This happened in all the three different Dusters we drove, but it was promptly fixed by the service centre. It also takes some time to understand the placement of controls. For example the external rear view mirror adjustment knob is placed below the handbrake and is not completely accessible on the move. The windscreen washer bottle takes time to find too, on careful examination, it is found at a rather unusual location under the passenger side wiper. There are plenty of good bits too, like the gas filled struts which make opening the hood super easy, the commanding driving position and the performance from the renowned K9K series of diesel engines.
The K9K series of dCI engines doing duty on the Renault Duster are both from the same 1.5-litre block. The 110 PS is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission while the 85 PS gets a 5-speed manual gearbox. The 110 PS engine is an absolute gem on the highways but over prolonged usage the clutch feels heavy and there is an evident turbo lag which makes city driving a little stressful and tiring. On the upside, cruising on the highway, the 110 PS model is in a league of its own. The tall sixth gear means getting north of 150 km/hr is not a task at all. The 6-speed gearbox is decently slick and the cogs work themselves with relative ease. We got an average fuel efficiency of 12.48 km/l with the best and worst being 16.35 km/l (Mumbai to Goa) and 11.36 km/l (Mumbai city) respectively. Handling is pretty good but the Duster gives you more feedback than required. The steering is a tad bigger than our liking and transmits vibrations on bad surfaces. Ride quality is exceptional with nobody treading anywhere near it. The Duster just glides over bad roads without transferring much to the passengers, it does not get unnerved by the worst of the roads. The high profile MRF tyres offer good grip and are pretty long lasting too. Even after 20,000 kms on the odometer, the ride quality remained exceptional.
The 85 PS Duster is the one for the city and is the more fun to drive too. With a lighter clutch and no turbo lag, this is ideal for those who predominantly lug around in city traffic. On paper it may seem that 85 horses may not be enough when it comes to an SUV like the Duster, the reality is completely the opposite. Even on the highway, the 85 PS diesel is good enough for speeds up to 130 km/hr post which it gets quite noisy. Overtaking on the highway may need the gearbox to be worked down a bit but you really don’t feel that there is any shortage of power. In comparison to the 6-speed transmission of the 110 PS model, the 5-speed gearbox mated to the 85 PS engine is a bit notchy to use. The 85 PS is marginally more fuel efficient, primarily due to a good 25 PS deficit in power output. We got an average fuel efficiency of 13.51 km/l with the best efficiency of 17.41 km/l (Mahabaleshwar – Mumbai) and the worst of 11.92 km/l (guess? Mumbai city, where else). As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, there is little to choose between the 110 PS and 85 PS versions but the 85 PS comes with a more compelling price tag, which seals the deal for most.
The Duster’s first service is done at 2000 kms or 2 months, whichever is earlier. After which service is done at 10,000 kms or 1 year (whichever is earlier) and hence forth at 10,000 kms or 1 year intervals. The first service is free of cost while the approximate cost for the second service (10,000 kms) is around Rs. 6500/-.
Cost of Spares (inclusive of taxes) -
1. Air Filter – Rs 855/-
2. Oil Filter – Rs 505/-
3. Fuel Filter – Rs 1830/-
4. Front Brake Pads – Rs Rs 2500/-
5. Front Shock Absorber – Rs 4600/-
6. Clutch and Pressure Plate – Rs 2262/-
7. Front Bumper – Rs 7170/-
8. Headlamp assembly (with bulb) – Rs 6520/-
9. Tail-lamp assembly (with bulb) – Rs 2997/-
Renault has sold the Duster beyond its expectation. Surely, the Duster had the first mover advantage but did things change when Ford’s EcoSport hit the market? No, not really. Though the EcoSport has won many comparisons based on its competitive pricing and abundant features, it’s the Duster which is a true SUV in every sense. Renault is offering a 4-year warranty as standard and has also come up with some great offers, including membership to the ‘Gang of Dusters’ club, compensating for the higher price one pays for it to some extent. The Duster is definitely overpriced for what it offers but if you can discount that and the ‘not too premium feel’ interiors, the Renault Duster is is a very strong package and difficult to beat. The Duster’s ‘best of both worlds’ balance between performance and fuel efficiency, superior reliability and its true SUV character make it ‘India’s favourite SUV’ without any doubt.
The Renault Duster is a fantastic package offering good handling, excellent ride quality, generous interior room and powerful yet frugal diesel engines. While it isn’t the most value for money compact SUV in the market, it does offer a lot to the buyers.
Further Reading –
Renault Duster 85 PS Review
Renault Duster 110 PS Review
Renault Duster vs Nissan Terrano
Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport
Nissan Terrano vs Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport
Renault Duster vs Tata Safari Storme vs Mahindra Scorpio vs Mahindra XUV500