It was in 2012 that the Renault Duster was first launched in India. It was a path-breaking SUV. It started off the compact and the sub-compact SUV segment in India paving the way for the likes of other popular models like the Ford EcoSport and the Hyundai Creta. But the model generation of the SUV remained the same. We were the first ones to tell you that India won't get the 2nd generation Renault Duster, but will be the lead market for the 3rd Gen car. And so the current Duster gets its second big facelift to keep the sales going till the 3rd generation Duster comes by 2021. But is this facelift enough? Especially given newer rivals like the Tata Harrier, MG Hector and the soon-to-be-launched Kia Seltos have moved the benchmark in the compact SUV space much higher?
Also Read: Renault Duster Facelift Launched In India
Watch Our Renault Duster Facelift Review Here
Quite a bit, actually! The front end gets the biggest update with a new tri-wing chrome grille and newly designed headlamp clusters with projector lamps and new patterns for the LED DRLs. The bumper up front gets a couple of updates as well. So, the face of the SUV does have a renewed appeal, especially when the Duster is dressed in Caspian Blue, one of the two new colours on offer. We quite like the colour and it does stand out when out on the roads. Plus, the bonnet itself gets a few creases which gives the front end a chiselled look. It has been raised too, in order to meet the pedestrian safety guidelines as well. The top-spec model, which is the RxZ, also gets newly designed Everest diamond-cut alloy wheels which up the premium quotient of the SUV.
The rear stays the same, more or less. It does get black plastic cladding near the tail-lamps which our test car missed out on! So, yes! There is a renewed sense of freshness to the Duster thanks to the updated front end and the new alloys.
The interior gets subtle updates too! The dashboard gets new rectangular vents instead of the earlier circular vents. The body-coloured inserts on the dashboard add to the glam factor along with new upholstery on the seats with blue contrast stitching. Also, the steering unit is new along with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
But, we feel the placement of the screen is an issue! It is placed down below on the centre console and one needs to take his/her eyes off to use it when driving, which isn't exactly ideal. Plus, the cabin still misses out on an arm-rest for the co-passenger up front. The materials used inside the cabin go up by a notch but still do not feel as premium as the other SUVs in the segment. Oh yes! The fonts on the instrument console have also been changed.
The Duster facelift continues to get a 1.5-litre petrol engine along with the 1.5-litre diesel engine in two states of tune. The petrol engine makes 104.5 bhp at 5,600 rpm and peak torque of 142 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The 1.5-litre diesel makes 84 bhp at 3,750 rpm and 200 Nm at 1,750 rpm and the more powerful variant makes 108.5 bhp at 4,000 rpm and has a peak torque of 245 Nm at 1,750 rpm. There is a CVT for the petrol engine option and a 6-speed AMT for the diesel. Now, the sad part is that the top-spec trim, the RxZ, is available only on the 108.5 bhp model.
The Duster continues to shine as far as driving joy is concerned. Its suspension is still one of the most balanced in the segment and the SUV retains its handling prowess. We drove the diesel variant with the higher output. The engine has oodles of torque to play with once it about 1,800 rpm and yes! The first gear is still too short for our liking, but otherwise, the gearbox feels precise. It is still the only SUV in its segment to get optional AWD which means it can take on the rough too! Like before, Renault also offers a CVT gearbox for the petrol engine variant and a 6-step AMT gearbox for the diesel engine model. The competition already has torque convertors and dual-clutch automatic cars in its line-up.
Pricing is a huge advantage for the Duster too! It is one of most affordable SUVs in its segment, with prices starting from 8 lakh rupees and going up to 12 and a half lakh rupees. Like we said earlier, the new SUV launches in the segment have upped the ante many times over and the Duster is still in its first generation model! But, the Duster has that butch appeal which wins your heart over. Yes! It scores low on features and the design might seem a little long in the tooth but it is still too early to count it out!