Brilliantly simple or Simply brilliant? Either way the Renault Duster is a winner!

03 July 2012: Known for making stylish, practical and affordable cars that incorporate some French quirkiness into them, Renault is one of the hottest selling brands in Europe. While they haven’t tasted much success in US markets, they are slowly and surely gaining acceptance in a few key Asian markets. Their entry into the Indian passenger car market has been impressive with the rather brilliant Fluence, followed by the Koleos and the Pulse early this year. The Pulse was essentially a rebadged Nissan Micra, and an attempt to get the Indian middle class familiar with the brand. But it is their next offering – The Renault Duster, which is much anticipated and likely to shake and jig the market a bit.

The Renault Duster was first showcased at the Auto Expo 2012 in New Delhi, and is expected to launch in India soon. It is one of the cheapest full grown SUVs in the world and is branded Renault Dacia Duster in key international markets. It is an entry level SUV and what will be launched here is the absolutely updated version manufactured at Renault-Nissan’s Chennai plant.

On paper, Duster has success written all over it. It is a well structured compact SUV, with a muscular design, a stylish chrome grille, straight blocky lines, flared wheel arches with 16″ alloy wheels and sporty roof rails that make it look bigger than it actually is. It is a well proportioned vehicle that look strikingly smart from all angles, can comfortably seat five, and has an impressive 475 ltr boot capacity.

Rich in equipment and features, the Duster has well appointed interiors, with beige leather and reasonably good quality plastic trims. The centre console has a neat look with large air vents and a functional 4 Speaker Music System with USB, Aux-in & Bluetooth connectivity. The back is surprisingly spacious, considering the vehicle is smaller than the competition. There are rear AC vents too, which are a boon when you are driven around.

The engine offers a few choices. The top end is powered by a 1.5 ltr DCI diesel engine, that churns out a substantial 110 bhp. A detuned 1.5 dCI diesel churns out 85 bhp and a petrol version is also on offer, but I think it is unlikely to draw too many customers in a segment which is heavily skewed towards diesel.

The Duster would take the Tata Safari and Mahindra Scorpio head on. Comparatively, the only disadvantage is that the competition offers seating options of seven or even eight, whereas the Duster can seat only five. Prices are yet to be announced, but expect it to be in the sub Rs.10 lac region. And if Renault can be a bit more aggressive on the pricing, this one would fly! 

I really like the Duster. Here is a perfectly good looking, spacious, urban stud on wheels with a reasonably good build quality and value proposition. Although not earth shatteringly well styled when it comes to the interiors, it’s simplicity is a relief from some of the over the top vehicles launched recently. It may not be a head turner, but has an air of confidence around it. It is a great car for the young urban Indian family, one that is busy all the time going somewhere or the other – work, shopping, gym, movies, parks, dropping off kids, long drives or weekends getaways. This one is a perfect vehicle for every such occasion.

If Renault work on their after sales service and dealer network, it should win hearts with this one. The Duster could be your first car, or for that matter an apt second car for a family of 4 with a pet! I for sure am waiting for this one to arrive at the dealership!

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    July 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    its an offering off 1.6 & and 1.5 litre petrol and diesel engine respectively. this is the most dumbest strategy by renault whom are they trying to target. the dumb crowd ???? iindian brands like mahindra are offerin their scorpio with 2.0 litre power train for almost around the same price and with better service guarantee. do these guys think that ppl are gonna buy an "SUV" with such low power output this is probably another junk by renault or they might be testing waters before they can yank this model out and get an upgraded version but my personal opinion not worth it. should wait & watch 🙂

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