The Duster has been one the most selling Renault in India. It was the first compact SUV to enter India and Renault got a head start. The Duster however soon got competition in the form of Ford Ecosport and the Nissan Terrano. Renault is the first and the only manufacturer to introduce an all-wheel drive on the Duster. We get our hands on the Renault Duster AWD and find out how much worthy is it?
Renault Duster AWD Exterior
The exterior styling of the Duster has been tweaked. These are cosmetic upgrades and the changes are subtle. The Duster with the Renault badge was designed at Renault’s design studio in Mumbai. The AWD gets stickers on the rocker. The AWD also gets stickers even near the rear glass in a very subtle manner. The Duster also gets blacked-out headlamps and it does look a lot more stylish. Then there are those matt-black alloy wheels on the AWD, and then there is a tiny 4WD badge placed at the back. There aren’t many changes on the outside of the Duster, but one can easily differentiate from the regular front-wheel drive Duster.
Step inside and you shall be amazed with the upgrades that the interiors have received. First thing that you shall notice is the new steering wheel. The new three-spoke steering wheel is chunky and good to grip. It now has controls on it, but unfortunately they are buttons for cruise control. The cruise control activation switch is on the centre console. The new audio controls on the steering column feel a lot more premium too. The new three dial instrument cluster is also stylish and it does look a lot more appealing. These new dials have white back-light and look a lot more appealing than the previous orange-lit interiors.
The Duster AWD gets black seat fabric with red stitching and some more red elements. The seats are large and spacious. The space in both the rows in sufficient and even the boot is humongous. The rear AC vent has been removed in the AWD and there is now a bottle holder in place. The Duster now even has an Eco-mode, it gets ESP and the all-wheel has three modes, a two-wheel drive mode, auto (that makes it to all-wheel drive on detection of slip) and differential lock. The Duster looks much improved on the inside, as this is where it lacked in quality. There is also a touch-screen system with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and aux input too. But there is no CD player.
The engine on the Duster AWD is the 1.5-litre K9K that produces 108bhp and comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This is the same engine, however the final drive has been shortened for better torque. Hence, the lag that the Duster six-speed had at low speeds seems to have been solved. The need to shift in city traffic has been reduced. The instanteous power of the Duster is very good and it doesn’t feel sluggish at any point of time like it did before. But there is a down side to this, it isn’t that fuel efficient as it was before. In city we achieved a figure close to 13 km/l, while on the highway it was about 14.5km/l. This was all in two-wheel drive mode and was normal driving.
There isn’t much of a difference in performance in the eco-mode and the regular mode, while the efficiency increase is about 0.5-1km/l in city driving, which will be more on the highway. There is also ESP on the Duster AWD and an option to switch it off. In the auto mode, it does detect slip and power is transferred to the rear wheels to avoid loss of grip or control. The ride on the Duster is composed and it does well, even while driving on bad potholes or even on road with broken tarmac. Our experience on very bad roads was surprising as the Duster’s suspension did a good job on such roads too.
The handling too of the Duster is good. The steering wheel feel isn’t optimum and it feels a bit vague, but the driving dynamics of the Duster are good and it is a good compact SUV to procure. The Renault Duster AWD costs Rs 14.5 lakhs (on-road, Delhi). At this price, the Duster is a good deal, however once the regular Duster also gets the interior upgrade and it has the same interiors, we will recommend the 85PS if you need one for city driving mostly.