Renault Duster 4×4 likely to be launched in March 2013

Those of you who were waiting for the Renault Duster 4×4, hang in there, your prayers are about to be answered in the next few months! Renault is reportedly readying the four-wheel drive variant of the Renault Duster for the Indian market.

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Back at the launch of the Renault Duster in July 2012, CarToq had asked Renault India managing director Marc Nassif if Renault had plans on launching the 4×4 variant of the Duster for India. Back then, Nassif said the 4×4 would be produced in India for the UK market by December, and then depending on demand, Renault would consider its launch in India “next year”.

Now, we’ve got some information that has been ratified by other media that Renault is considering launching the Duster 4×4 in India by March 2013. A source had also visited the Renault plant and seen the Duster 4×4 – although these were probably the four-wheel drive variants that are being exported under the Dacia brand to the UK market. Also read: Renault exports Duster under Dacia brand from Chennai

But what makes us confident that Renault will launch the Duster 4×4 in India by March is the impending launch of the Ford EcoSport compact SUV, a vehicle that can knock some of the wind out of the Duster’s sails. The Renault Duster so far has been a runaway success, selling over 5,000 vehicles a month in the past couple of months, beating the Mahindra Scorpio in sales.

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Photo: Renault Duster 4x4 has three selectable drive modes

Launching a 4×4 variant of the Duster just around the time of the Ford EcoSport launch would be just the right move for Renault to shoot one back at Ford. The EcoSport will only be front-wheel drive for now and available in 1-litre EcoBoost petrol and 1.5 litre diesel engine variants. The Renault Duster 4×4 will likely come only with the 110PS engine (same as the Dacia Duster for export) and six-speed manual transmission. Also read: Nissan to launch re-badged Renault Duster

The 4×4 system on the Renault Duster is a selectable system with a knob on the dashboard, just below the AC controls, to the left of the gear lever, allowing the driver to switch between two-wheel drive (2WD), automatic four-wheel drive (where the Duster decides when to transfer power to the rear wheels depending on wheel slip and traction conditions) and 4×4 lock mode – where the Duster can be locked in 4×4 mode for off-road use on sand and snow.

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The Renault Duster 4×4 will be as versatile as the Skoda Yeti, but doesn’t have a low-ratio 4×4 mode (like the Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari Storme or Toyota Fortuner) for extreme four-wheel drive use like rock-crawling or slow-speed ascents/descents. But given the Duster’s light body weight of just 1320 Kg (for the 4×4 variant), good ground clearance and high power-to-weight ratio, it will be a good performer in most off-road conditions, as the Dacia Duster has proved in other countries. Also see: Renault Duster road test and review

Now for the price. We expect the Duster 4×4 to come in at least two trim variants – an RXL 110 and RXZ 110 4×4, but just how expensive is it going to be? We assume the 4×4 transmission is going to add about Rs. 1 lakh to the cost of the respective Duster two-wheel drive variant, but we’d like you to share your thoughts in the poll too.