Renault Duster: First Drive
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Ever since we got word that Renault India would bring the Duster to India, we knew that the entry level SUV market was in for a major change. It’s been a long wait, however the hard part is over for the Duster is set to be a reality on Indian roads shortly. With production in full swing at Renault-Nissan’s Chennai plant, the Duster for the Indian market has been reworked to cater to Indian tastes.
Set your eyes on the Duster and you are bound to be hooked. It’s a striking looking SUV that boasts of clean muscular lines, large headlights, a big grille with three horizontal chrome slats, protruding wheel arches both front and back, large wheels, fine shut lines and dimensions that are perfect for the urban environment. The rear has also received a fair share of scalpel treatment and the sculpted boot with the metal mimics of the taillight design and the large chrome plate with ‘DUSTER’ written across are a visual treat. The Duster that we had to drive around at the Chennai plant happened to be the top end RXZ variant which also boasts of neat roof rails and chrome rims that further enhance its visual appeal.
Step inside and you are greeted with a well appointed interior. Although there is an abundance of hard plastics, the visual effect is up market, while I will add that some of the plastics didn’t feel as great and on closer inspection the fit and finish could have been better. Having said that, the Duster is essentially built to a price and considering its competitors, the Duster will have no problem in swaying the audience in its favour when it comes to the topic of interiors. The A/C ducts are straight out of the Logan and that is where the similarity ends.
According to Renault, they have spruced up the interiors beyond what is available on the Duster in any other market in the world! I can vouch for that for I have seen the Duster at numerous international motor shows and thankfully we don’t get the drab sea of black plastic here. Despite being slightly smaller in size than its competition, interior space isn’t that bad and while the front seats are rather comfortable, the rear can seat passengers in considerable ease as leg space for the center passenger is hampered by the rear A/C vent. The 470 litre boot is a delight and if you need more space, the rear bench does a 60:40 split for increased versatility.
The Duster comes with an adequate amount of kit which includes a neat stereo system that is neatly integrated into the center console, power windows, power steering, electrically adjustable ORVMs, an audio control stalk (mounted right behind the steering on the right), a powerful HVAC unit and enough pockets to store away knick-knacks. As mentioned earlier, the Duster also features a rear A/C unit which has been specifically designed for the Indian market. It is an ingenious device that isn’t just a blower, but actually pumps out cold air on its own which is a boon for rear seat passengers as they don’t have to wait for the cold air to flow through the ducts to the vent like on other vehicles that just offer blowers.