A fortnight ago, DWS Auto had reported that Renault is planning to make a fresh start in India with a slew of new launches. One of them would be the aptly titled, Duster – perhaps, indicating the French car maker’s desire to wipe away the bitter memories of its former alliance with Mahindra.
The latest buzz surrounding the Duster is that the SUV will be rolled out in India as soon as 2012. Overdrive magazine reports the Duster will be priced at about Rs 7 lakh for the 2WD version and Rs 9 lakh for the 4WD variant, which will be launched a bit later! Our initial guess was that the Duster would be priced around the Rs 10 lakh region, putting it in Mahindra Scorpio territory. But if Renault manages to pull off this pricing coup, it would pit the Duster against the Mahindra Xylo and Tata Sumo Grande instead!
But price apart, does the Renault Duster really have what it takes to wipe out competition? In Europe, the 5-seater Duster is marketed as an urban SUV, that’s ideal for city driving. The Duster is not like a typically huge SUV – it’s 4.3 metres long, 1.82 metres wide and has a ground clearance of 210 mm – which makes it bigger than the Skoda Yeti but smaller than the Xylo. Interestingly, at 1,180 kg for the 4×2 variant, the Duster weighs less than the Yeti. That should translate to a much higher mileage and hence expect the Duster to deliver around 15 kmpl in city! Read more about the Renault-Dacia Duster SUV
The SUV may come with two engine options: a 1.6-litre, 16-valve petrol engine that produces 114 hp and a 1.5-litre dCI turbodiesel engine that puts out 84 hp. This is the same engine that’s there on the Nissan Micra and the Renault Logan though slightly tweaked to squeeze the extra horses.
Now, 84 bhp might seem a bit less for an SUV, but according to reports the Duster’s performance is decent for everyday commutes and for those occasional off-roading trips. The ride quality and NVH levels may not be of the highest order but, really, what more can one expect at this price?
Renault’s India plans
The Duster aside, in the next 5 years Renault also intends to launch the Fluence, Koleos SUV, a small car built on Nissan’s V platform and another small car based on Renault’s A platform. Also read: Renault Fluence and Koleos features updated on Renault India website
The Fluence will be the first one to be rolled out this year and will target the likes of Skoda Laura, Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze. The sedan has been already been caught testing in Chennai a couple of times. We in India saw the Renault Fluence first at the 2010 Auto Expo alongside the Koleos SUV. Read related: Renault Fluence launch in June 2011