The Duster is the undoubted king in the compact SUV segment with over 1.90 lakh units sold since launch. However, aiming to break its run will be the Hyundai Creta and Maruti S-Cross with both models scheduled for launch this July.

Renault Duster AWD Launch
The Renault Duster could do with a mid-life cycle upgrade with more features

The compact SUV space is one of the most celebrated segments globally at present and certainly makes a lot of sense for markets like India. Renault India was one of the first manufacturers to capitalize on this with the launch of the Duster in 2012, which transformed the fortunes for the French automaker in the country. After three years and 1.90 lakh units sold, there has been little in the name of competition (save for the Nissan Terrano which is a rebadged Duster) to challenge the compact SUV’s dominance. However, this July will finally see the arrival of the much awaited Maruti Suzuki S-Cross and Hyundai Creta that might just change the dynamics in the segment. With the launch still some time away, we do a quick comparison to see which compact SUV appeals the most on paper.

Design – The Renault Duster really defined the compact SUV segment in India with its butch styling, accentuated wheel arches, black body cladding with skid plates and roof rails. The no-nonsense design language and the impressive road presence has really worked for the SUV over the years, keeping the model popular. The Duster’s newest rival is the Maruti S-Cross, which like its name gets a crossover styling with elements from an SUV and sedan. There are more flowing lines on the S-Cross and the roofline softens around the rear, keeping the overall profile less aggressive.

Coming to the Hyundai Creta, the compact SUV certainly is the more modern looking vehicle here with the bold and upright front fascia, pronounced wheel arches and a sharp window line. There is an abundance of chrome on the Creta and the Santa Fe like influence lends the compact SUV a young and premium appeal.

Dimensions – The Renault Duster is the longest SUV measuring 4315 mm in length, followed by the Maruti S-Cross which is marginally smaller at 4300 mm while the Hyundai Creta measures the smallest at 4270 mm. In terms of width, the Duster scores the highest measuring 1822 mm, the Creta comes in second with a width of 1780 mm and the S-Cross is reasonably small at 1765 mm. Coming to the height, the Maruti offering is the smallest here at 1575 mm, while the Creta measures 1622 mm and the Duster a healthy 1695 mm. When parked together, all three compact SUVs won’t be too different from each other.

That said, the Renault Duster gets the longest wheelbase at 2673 mm, whereas the S-Cross and Creta are similarly specced at 2600 mm and 2590 mm respectively. While the Duster sports decent space at the front and rear inside the cabin, one can expect similar legroom and space on the other two offerings, save for the S-Cross that will miss out on headroom. In terms of boot space, the Renault Duster gets the biggest boot at 475-litres as against the 430-litres on the S-Cross. While the boot capacity on the Creta is not known as yet, it won’t be as large as the Duster.

Engine – Both the S-Cross and Creta will be sporting a 1.6-litre diesel engine under the hood. Sharing its powertrain with the Verna, the Creta is expected to make 128 PS, the highest in the segment and 260 Nm of torque. The diesel unit on the S-Cross is all new and sourced from Fiat that will produce around 120 PS and a healthy 320 Nm of torque. The Duster uses the very capable 1.5-litre diesel motor that produces 110 PS and 245 Nm of torque. All models come paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, but the Creta will also get a 6-speed automatic from the Elantra. The Duster is the only offering at present to get AWD as standard and while the Creta and S-Cross come equipped with the same internationally, it needs to be seen if the manufacturers will introduce the same on the Indian model as well.

Price – Being the only choice in the segment, there has always been a debate on the Duster being overpriced or not. With the Renault offering now a benchmark, both Maruti and Hyundai are likely to undercut the model by a slight margin. Suzuki will also be offering the S-Cross with the 1.3-litre diesel engine that will set the asking price significantly lower compared to the Duster. Hyundai could also do the same and introduce the 1.4-litre diesel on the Creta to keep the asking price low. Moreover, the S-Cross and Creta will be loaded on features including projector headlamps, LED DRLs and much more, which does make the Duster look sparsely equipped.

Verdict – The Renault Duster is an extremely potent offering and has been doing well ever since its introduction three years ago. With the new compact SUVs set to flood the segment, we could see the Duster sales being affected but the model definitely does not lose its sheen. The Creta will emerge as the more city-bred offering with its striking lines, impressive design and abundance of features,; whereas the S-Cross will be heavily localised and will come with all the positive traits of a Maruti. Another factor working in favour of Maruti and Hyundai is the massive network and dealer presence pan India that will help the manufacturers sell better than Renault. That said, all three offerings are running neck to neck at present and certain details available at the time of launch will be the determining factors.

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The Duster also lacks features in comparison to the S-Cross & Creta, which will come loaded to the neck