Renault Duster 1.3 Petrol Test Drive Review
We do a road test of the 2020 Renault Duster 1.3 turbo petrol MT.
Car Tested: Renault Duster 1.3 Turbo Petrol MT RXZ; Road Test No. 1216; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 12.44 – 16.05 lakhs
The new turbocharged petrol engine is the most powerful unit in this segment and it offers very good performance
The Renault Duster properly kickstarted the compact SUV when the French automaker launched it in India in 2012. The Duster was initially offered with a 1.6-litre NA petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel engine in 85 PS and 110 PS tunes. The vehicle got AWD later on and a facelift in 2016 wherein Renault gave it some cosmetic updates and also introduced the AMT. The 1.6-litre petrol engine also made way for a 1.5-litre unit shared with some other Renault-Nissan cars. In 2019, the Duster got another cosmetic update while the mechanicals remained similar but the variant line-up was made smaller and AWD was offered only on the mid-spec trim. Come BS6 norms and the diesel engine has been discontinued and this vehicle now gets a brand new 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine but is it enough to keep the Duster’s sales going?
Exteriors – The 2020 Renault Duster looks cosmetically similar to the 2019 model but the turbo variant gets some red accents on the grille. The roof rails also get Duster badging in red while the new alloys get red inserts too. Renault had updated this compact SUV with new headlamps, a redesigned grille and a couple of new colour options last year. Apart from these enhancements, not much has changed over the years. While the design is quite functional and proportionate, some might say that the Duster doesn’t look as fresh as some of its rivals.
Interiors – The cabin of the Renault Duster is quite functional but lacks the modernity of some of the newer vehicles. The cabin has a no-fuss layout and you get hard touch plastics all around. In terms of features, the vehicle is equipped with cruise control, dual front airbags, ABS, traction control, touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, automatic climate control and electrically folding & adjustable mirrors. The seats offer adequate support and the rear room is also decent. The Duster offers a good driving position and you can even see the bonnet. The front doors get bottle holders but the rear doors don’t get these. There are a couple of storage spaces in the centre console too. The boot is quite well-shaped and you can load enough luggage for a few days’ road trip in this.
Performance – The biggest change in the newest iteration of the Renault Duster is the 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine which is an all-new unit. This engine, developed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance along with Daimler is also used on some of the new generation Mercedes cars. This powerplant churns out 154 HP at 5500 RPM and 254 Nm at 1600 RPM and it is offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox or a CVT. Refinement levels are pretty good if we talk about vibrations which are nicely under control but the engine does have a vocal nature. Get going and the low-end punch feels enough for regular usage but some lag is still felt below 2000 RPM. The mid-range is action-packed with the Duster putting down all its power from the word go and the compact SUV feels at its liveliest here.
The new turbocharged motor is extremely lively and delivers a strong surge of power in the mid-range
Top-end punch is limited and the peak power output comes in at 5500 RPM while the car does redline to 6300 RPM. For extracting the best performance from the engine, it is best to keep it in the mid-range throughout. While the Duster does feel quite enthusiastic with this engine, fuel efficiency lovers might be slightly disappointed because the ARAI figure is now 16.50 km/l for the manual variant. If you drive the car spiritedly all the time, expect real-world figures to be in single digits but maintain a balance of sedate and spirited driving and you should be able to extract 10-11 km/l. You also get an auto start-stop function now which is smooth and works well, and it improves the efficiency by a small margin but you can switch it off too. The 6-speed MT has well spaced out gear ratios but the gear shifts feel notchy. The clutch is neither too heavy nor too light.
Driving Dynamics – One of the biggest USPs of the Renault Duster has always been its ride quality and this one is no different. The brilliant suspension setup works wonders on our roads. The Duster just eats bad roads for breakfast and you actually enjoy pushing it hard. The ride always feels very stable and passengers usually never have a reason to complain too. The handling balance is also very good for a compact SUV and this car remains planted all throughout. The hydraulic steering offers great feel especially at medium to high speeds and even at city speeds, it’s not feather-light. Braking performance is decent but rear disc brakes would have been great. The Duster AWD used to come with rear disc brakes. The Duster doesn’t get AWD anymore too.
Verdict – The Renault Duster is a sturdy compact SUV that can withstand a lot of abuse. It offers a beautiful ride and the petrol engine’s performance is great too, but the fuel efficiency isn’t anything to boast about. Compared to newer compact SUVs like the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta, the Duster gets lesser equipment and features but if we compare the prices of the top-end variants of all these vehicles, the Duster costs almost half a million rupees less too.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Maruti S-Cross, Nissan Kicks
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