Renault Duster, a compact SUV based on the Logan platform, even uses Logans engine as well, delivered what Indians seek in a car - big dimension, fuel economy and status. The Duster SUV has already proven its caliber as an urban vehicle, and to test its abilities on highways during long runs, we recently took this voluptuous machine for a cross-country drive from Chennai to Delhi. We chose the more powerful Duster 110PS variant for this expedition, which uses a 1.5-litre K9K diesel engine equipped with a Variable Geometry Turbo. The 6-speed transmission on board transfers a maximum power output of 108.5bhp and peak torque of 248Nm to the front wheels, which give you the confidence to drive it on almost any sort of a terrain. When in motion, the engine starts to pull at around 1750rpm after an initial lag, which having been covered caters to punchy drive. Duster SUV feels refined most of the time and it reaches the 4000rpm redline mark with ease.
The Duster has a well planned out and spacious cabin, which gives a very airy feeling and the large glass area provides a perfect view of the surroundings. Front bucket seats give you proper back and under-thigh support, and the positioning of the seats helps to give a proper view of the road. The Duster SUV cabin has been designed ergonomically; however, some of the controls have been placed in the typical French manner, which take a little bit of time getting used to. We also liked the integrated music system featuring AUX-In and USB connectivity.
We drove Renault Duster on some of the worst and best roads during this expedition and it performed brilliantly well in all conditions. It has a good suspension system with independent McPherson Strut with coil spring and anti-roll bar at the front, while Torsion Beam Axle with anti-roll bar at rear, which help it sail over pot holes and bumps with utter ease. During our drive, there were several bad patches, where in Duster proved its mantle by featuring a balanced suspension setup that saved us from the bumpy rides. Another aspect that helps it gain an advantage over rest of the competition is its superior ground clearance of 205mm, which allows it to go over any surface or road without having to bother about hitting anything below, and that is exactly what we experienced on this drive. Renault Duster's steering is well balanced as it's light and nimble, which makes it an ideal urban SUV to give you the confidence to drive it on highways. A precise steering input further ensures an enjoyable drive. Renault Duster uses ventilated hydraulic disc brakes at front and drum brakes at rear, the braking is precise and there were no complaints on this front from our side.
Having encountered rain for majority part of our drive, the 16"inch alloy wheels featuring 215/65 R16 MRF Wanderer tyres provided good grip on both wet and dry surfaces. The Duster has a monocoque chassis, which gives it rigidity and better driving dynamics. it was evident from the fact that when we encountered certain Ghat sections while undertaking this drive, it handled well without loosing its composure on three digit speeds.
After having travelled for 3,500 kms over a time period of 8 days, our love and fascination for Renault Duster has only deepened. Its sheer appearance, cabin features, comfort, engine performance and driveability factor make it one of the most robust SUVs in its segment. A cross country expedition of such kind always adds a lot of memories and experiences, and to be able to do it in a Duster was just a dream come true. To further enrich the Renault Duster experience and on the eve of completion of a year, Renault India has launched the 'Anniversary Edition' of the SUV. This new edition comes in a new colour called 'Cosmos Blue' with a bit of stylish body graphics. It will be available on the top of the line Duster RxZ 110 PS Option Pack. This variant is now available in all the Renault dealerships throughout the country.