Renault Duster Turbo Long Term Review
The Renault Duster still retains its fun-to-drive character in the turbo petrol guise, while offering a splendid ride-handling balance
The Renault Duster has always been a very integral part of the MotorBeam long term fleet. We first had the original Duster diesel, which was then followed by the facelifted model and then we got the AMT as well. Now, we have the Duster Turbo in our test fleet and it has been a few months with this SUV. We have driven the car for almost 5000 kms now and I even took it for an 1800 km road trip to Gujarat!
The Renault Duster Turbo gets a 1.3-litre petrol engine making 154 HP and 254 Nm and is available with either a 6-speed manual or a CVT. Thankfully, we got the CVT to sample because driving a manual these days in Mumbai with so much traffic and construction all around is almost like a curse. This same engine also powers the Nissan Kicks and even the Mercedes A-Class Limousine.
Now, we are already familiar with the Duster because fundamentally the vehicle has been the same over the years but the Turbo has a very different character. This is the most powerful engine in this segment and it really shows when you drive the car. The 1.3 Turbo pulls the Duster with a lot of eagerness and overall driveability is very punchy and very smooth. The CVT does a fabulous job and there’s a manual mode too but frankly, I used it just once or twice.
The outstanding ride quality of the Duster, along with the punch from the Turbo engine, made the drive comfortable & enjoyable
I had to go to Gujarat with my family in July when rains were at their peak and the roads weren’t in the best condition as well. The Duster was my default choice for this trip only and only because of its beautiful suspension. I knew the Duster wouldn’t have any issues on broken roads throughout the drive and would keep the occupants comfortable, and I was right. While we encountered smooth roads from Mumbai to Vadodara, the route from Vadodara to Rajkot had a lot of construction going on and there were lots of patches with non-existent roads.
The Duster just took everything in its stride and it was flying over all the bad patches, much to the amusement (or agony) of other cars with too stiff or too soft suspensions. The ride is a bit stiffer than the diesel Duster though because this car has 17-inch wheels while the older one used to have 16-inch wheels. Still, there was barely any body movement while going fast over uneven roads and I really enjoyed the drive.
I drove solo for 1800 kms in a span of 5 days and loved every bit of the drive thanks to the powerful engine, smooth CVT and the lovely ride. I was really worried about the fuel efficiency because the vehicle was returning 9-10 km/l in Mumbai. However, I managed to get 17.3 km/l from Mumbai to Gujarat, 13.7 km/l within Gujarat and then 16.8 km/l while driving from Gujarat to Mumbai.
But, the Duster has been around since almost a decade now and it shows. The vehicle has bottle holders far and few in the cabin and the ergonomics aren’t the best either. The touchscreen is placed too low and every time you have to look down at the screen if you’re using maps. Storage spaces could have been better optimized as well because the rear doors don’t have any sort of storage area. The Duster also doesn’t have a lot of features but it covers the basics like projectors, ABS, dual front airbags, Apple CarPlay and automatic climate control. The Turbo also gets this auto stop-start feature which I usually deactivate.
In this day and age of modern cars, the Renault Duster may not stand out because it is still very old school and doesn’t offer the kind of modernity that buyers have come to expect from vehicles in this segment. But, the Duster is also almost Rs. 5 lakh cheaper than its immediate rivals (top-end variants) and it is still the most fun to drive car in its segment.
- Tough and brawny design
- Practical and spacious cabin
- Punchy turbo petrol engine
- Outstanding ride quality
What’s Not So Cool
- Misses out on certain features
- Design has started to look a bit dated
- Ergonomics need a major rejig
- Fuel efficiency in traffic is quite low
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