Like the Hyundai Creta GDi variants and Kia Seltos T-GDi, the new Renault Duster powered by the 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine also offers the driver a spirited driving experience (in its segment). We drive it, and enjoy every minute driving, in and around Delhi. The Duster is now an old car (it was first launched in 2012), but some design changes on the exterior help make it look contemporary, like the branding on roof rails, and the design of the front grille and alloy wheels. It definitely doesn’t enjoy an imposing road presence that it did a few years ago, but does attract second glances every now and then. The same can’t be said of the cabin—it looks antique. From the touchscreen to the driver armrest to even controls on the steering wheel—the voice control stalk, for instance, is behind the steering wheel, on the right hand side—nothing looks fresh. But spacious it is, and seats possibly the most comfortable in its segment. The turbocharged petrol engine has a cubic capacity of 1330cc (maximum power of 156PS and torque of 254Nm).
Why is it so powerful?
The engine—smaller than the 1498cc of another variant of the Duster—produces 50PS more power, and is more fuel efficient. Why? The reason is it is fitted with a device called the ‘turbocharger’, which sucks in hot exhaust gas from the engine to spin a turbine that compresses air, and that air is forced back into the engine cylinder, leading to more efficient combustion of the air-fuel mixture. The result is the engine produces more power, even as it consumes lesser fuel.
How does it drive?
A turbocharger only works when the engine has reached a defined RPM, so in the initial second or two the acceleration feels lethargic—called the ‘turbo lag’—but soon enough this SUV accelerates so quickly, it’d leave you surprised. A notable thing is its drivability. For example, the steering feedback it offers—mechanical signals that the front tyres send to the steering wheel—is so accurate that you feel every bump and dip on the road through the steering wheel. This leads to safer driving. The claimed fuel efficiency is 16.5 km/litre, and while driving in and around Delhi I got 13 km/litre.
Should you buy one?
Its cabin looks dated (that’s where you will spend the maximum time), and there are so many nicer options in the market today. But as far as turbocharged petrol engine options are concerned, the Duster 1.3 turbo is still the most affordable—while I drove the six-speed manual gearbox variant, the same engine is also available mated to a CVT gearbox with a seven-speed manual mode. Prices of turbo variants start from Rs 10.49 lakh for the manual, to Rs 13.59 lakh for the top-end CVT (ex-showroom, Delhi).
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