Renault Duster AMT Long Term Review
With an excellent suspension and a practical & spacious cabin, the Duster is still the king of its segment
Last time around, we had swapped our Duster AMT in Mumbai for the AWD in Delhi. The Duster AWD truly showed its colours in our Delhi to Mumbai trip. Stupendous ride quality, great steering feel and lots of boot space to carry all our luggage. With the AWD at our disposal, we did take the path less taken, though longer in terms of distance, it was more fulfilling to drive on. The Duster AWD is possibly the best monocoque SUV you can buy in India for the buck but does it make sense for someone who just drives in the city?
Well, our drive in the city is rather very mundane. Home to office and back is the most frequently taken route and occasionally we head out of town for a weekend getaway. This whole situation made us swap the Duster AWD for the AMT again, for the comfort and convenience the automatic offered far outweighed the occasional time we would go off-roading. The AMT had proved to be extremely comfortable in the daily grind. With the traffic situation only getting worse year by year, automatic is certainly the thing of the coming times.
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.
The true benefits of the AMT are reaped in the city. The convenience of an automatic is just what is needed in our crowded metros. Our Duster has been out through a lot of roles and can best be described as an all-rounder. We have been using it primarily in the city with occasional highway runs. It has been returning an average fuel economy of 14 - 15 km/l in our routine driving cycle which is much better than expected. We particularly like the versatility of space, the driving dynamics and the comfort and convenience offered by the AMT. With the Mumbai monsoon just around the corner, the high ground clearance will be a boon as water logging in the city is bound to happen. With our car nearing 30,000 kms on the odometer, we will need to send it for service soon. Until then we are happily munching the kilometres in this practical SUV.
* Spacious cabin and boot
* High ground clearance and excellent suspension
* Very good performance and driving dynamics
What's Not So Cool
* Some more features would have been welcome
* AMT gearboxes aren't as quick as torque convertors
Further Reading -
Renault Duster AMT Long Term Review – First Report
Renault Duster AMT Long Term Review – Second Report
Renault Duster AWD Long Term Review
Renault Duster – Pros & Cons Video
Renault Duster Pros & Cons Hindi Video