Renault Duster AWD was launched recently and counts the Skoda Yeti 4x4 and Mahindra XUV500 W8 AWD as its main rivals. Though now you have the new Scorpio 4x4 too we think the XUV500 represents a bigger threat to the Duster AWD. When Renault first launched Duster in India, it wasn't sure if our market was ready for such product and to be on the safer side, they launched Duster with front wheel drive only. Now, when Indians have gone crazy for Duster, Renault has decided to bring the all wheel drive variant of their most successful car in India.
The SUV will fight straight-away with its prime rivals, Mahindra XUV 500 and Skoda Yeti. The price bracket expected for Duster AWD will bring it in the territory of XUV 500 while it will also be an option for those who want a compact 4WD SUV such as Yeti certainly not that premium though. Will the new Duster be able to make others sweat? Let's find out.
There are no major changes in the looks department and apart from the the smoked alloys, new badging and stickers, there is nothing much which differentiates this new Duster from the 2-wheel drive version. Inside as well story remains the same and from appearance to space, everything is quite familiar. However you now get new dashboard, steering wheel, instrument cluster and few more features such as cruise control, gear shift indicator and hill start assist.
With a seating arrangement of five people and urban styling, the car will appeal more to those who consider Yeti rather than XUV 500 which comes with an additional third row and has bigger body dimensions.
Under the Skin
Renault has made significant changes under the flesh of Duster to make it more competent as now its all wheels will have independent suspension setup making it more durable and comfortable. The biggest change is the addition of its 4wheel drive system which works in three modes, 2WD, auto and 4-wheel lock. Technically, the engine is similar to the 2WD version but Renault has worked on its clutch and ECU to make torque more accessible and easily usable.
It uses the familiar 1.5L K9K diesel engine which has a power and torque output of 108.5bhp and 248Nm respectively which comes mated with a six-speed manual gearbox, there is no auto gearbox for now. The clutch is much lighter now and feels progressive while the re-worked gear ratios result into better low end grunt and less turbo lag.
If we talk on paper, Duster AWD will be less powerful than its competitors as XUV 500 runs on a 2.2L diesel engine which has a power and torque output of 140bhp and 330Nm while Yeti is available with 138bhp of power output coming out of its 2.0L TDI engine with an utmost torque output of 320Nm. AWD versions of both Yeti and XUV 500 come equipped with six-speed manual gearboxes with no option of automatic transmission.
Duster AWD is available in two trims and is priced at Rs 11.89 lakh for the RXL while the RXZ is priced at Rs 12.99 lakh.
At this price and with a claimed fuel efficiency of 19.72 km/ltr, it will become the most affordable and most economical AWD SUV in India. Yes, Duster seems to be less powerful than both of its competitors but when compared in terms of power to weight ratio, it puts up a real fight against its competitors. With a killer price tag, Duster may surely attract many new age AWD SUV buyers who were earlier thinking of choosing rather expensive options.