Renault’s next model for India (after the Pulse) is the Duster compact SUV. The French automaker will showcase the Renault Duster at the upcoming Auto Expo next week. Just today, MotorBeam fan Ramakrishna spotted the vehicle with heavy camouflage in Chennai. The spied Duster had equipment to take down readings near the center console and was being driven extremely fast. It is no secret that Renault has been extensively testing the Duster in India. The company has heavily localized components and plans to make it’s Chennai facility a hub for the production of the Duster. Infact, the Orgadam plant could be the exclusive manufacturing location for the Duster in the world, with Renault exporting a big chunk of the production overseas.
The Renault Duster will be powered by both petrol and diesel engines. The 1.6-liter petrol unit will produce 106 PS of power and is an all new unit. The diesel unit will be the same one 1.5-liter K9K motor. The dCi motor will be available in two set of tunes, one producing 91 PS of power, while the other producing 108 PS of peak power at 4000 RPM and 240 Nm of peak torque at 2000 RPM. Mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, the Duster diesel should return a fuel efficiency of close to 20 kmpl. Renault has also tuned the suspension and air-conditioning for India and we can expect the compact SUV to be priced between Rs. 8-10 lakhs, when it goes on sale in the middle of 2012.
Renault also plans to offer 4-wheel drive on the Duster but this might not be offered initially. History is witness that 80% of sales come from 2-wheel drive variants, so expect only the top model to feature 4×4 system as standard. Renault plans to launch 5 variants of the Duster in the Indian market and has an aggressive target of selling 50000 units of the right-hand drive Duster in India and UK in the very first year. The Duster uses the same platform as the low cost Logan and the interiors are quite similar too. However Renault has plans to modify the switches and dashboard to make it more attractive to the aam junta (common man). Remember, the Duster goes head on with the Ford EcoSport, with the latter being a sub 4-meter compact SUV.