The Duster may be dated but there still so many things to love about this car. Our trip to Kolad was a testimony to the fact. We not only managed to squeeze a lot of luggage into the boot, the best thing was that 3 large adults could comfortably fit in the rear seat with ample legroom, knee room and shoulder room. The Duster is still the best in the segment when it comes to the width of the rear seat. None of the other SUVs (in the segment) offer this kind of space and this is particularly obvious if you end up using child seats. Even with two child seats at the back, there is still room for an adult to be comfortably seated.
The Duster’s robust suspension and high ground clearance helped us clear the roughest of patches easily
The route to Kolad was via NH17, infamously known as the old Goa road. It is a single lane highway which is now being converted to a double lane stretch. Work has been going on since a long time, some sections offer smooth tarmac on which the Duster glides effortlessly. However, the majority of this stretch is full of diversions, where you are driving literally on rubble. The Duster was exceptional with its ride quality. The suspension worked well to keep the occupants comfortable. Steering too offers great feedback at both high and low speeds. Ride and handling have indeed been one of the USP’s of the Duster and it still is the benchmark in the segment.
Our trip to Kolad was about overnight camping followed by rafting in the Kundalika river. It is one best locations for river rafting in Maharashtra. The road to the camp was quite broken and there were some patches where the road didn’t exist. It was nothing which a car with higher ground clearance and appropriate approach and departure angles couldn’t handle. Luckily on the way back, the majority of the road was smooth with freshly surfaced tarmac. We put the sixth gear to good use here. All AMTs are slow when it comes to shifts as compared to a conventional automatic transmission, however, in our case, the high torque of the diesel motor greatly improves the drivability. Once you get used to how the power kicks in, you don’t need to plan your overtakes on the highway.