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Old 6th October 2012, 20:38   #1
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Default An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

The team-bhp official review of the car is comprehensive and brilliant. Since there is no point in repeating everything including photos, I'll try to limit the review to my experience and any delta. My experience is based on ~1500 kms of ownership. In the 1500 kms, I have driven the car in GQs, broken highways, single lane highways, winding kerala state roads, congested Bangalore roads, broken Bangalore roads, in rain and in sun. My opinions about the car could change with time. I will keep the thread updated!

A picture of my ride:
An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-03img_1008.jpg

Background
An year before my company got acquired. Acquisitions can be good or bad. Soon, many of my friends were buying new cars out of the blue! After digging around, I found the new company has a fantastic car policy. The terms and conditions felt too good to be true. First, I dismissed it in disbelief and then I called my HR representative a few times to confirm, double confirm and triple confirm and also over e-mails. She got angry and hung up the phone. Yes, the terms and conditions were true! That left me thinking. My 6 years old Civic was running fine and we don't need two cars. I picked up an excel sheet, did a detailed maths. Any which way I looked, it made sense to buy a new car. Talked to my wife and we decided to buy the cheapest car that works out for us. We had few non negotiable requirements. The car should have reasonable cabin space, large boot, ABS, EBD, dual airbags, ergonomically sound driving position, good ground clearance, good pick-up, acceptable NVH, not too big external dimensions, 5 seater and diesel. With these requirements we started our car search in the C1, C2, D1 segment around 5 months back in a relaxed manner. We were in no hurry to change the Civic.

Civic does set high expectations in terms of comfort, driving dynamics, build quality and reliability. We had to start somewhere, so we started with Vento. Liked it but I was not very convinced about the driving ergonomics and somewhat claustrophobic front. Looked at Rapid, Verna, Sunny, Linea. Overall, we felt the C1/C2 segment cars are too narrow for our liking. We moved on to try D1 segment cars. We looked at Corolla, Cruze, Laura and Fluence. The additional money we had to spend on the D1 segment was no way justifiable for the value we were getting over Civic. At one point we were ready to keep the Civic. After all, we don't *have* to buy a new car. Fluence came pretty close - when we were in two minds about Fluence, the sales person told about the Duster. Voila! The SUV bug struck me. We paid a refundable advance of 50K and decided to wait. After paying the advance, we did look at XUV5OO and Yeti. Somehow both did not work out. This was back in June.

The car, test drive and buying experience
Saw the car in flesh on the first day of the launch along with my parents. Straight away my mom told it is better than Civic to sit because of the high seating position. The car looked good, I could find a good driving position, it ticked a lot of check boxes. Yes, ACC, ESP were not there but I decided I could live without them. The only item but a major item left was the test drive. Later in that week, took the 110 PS car for a short spin, I and my wife liked the car better than the C2 sedans. We were told we would get the car in the first week of September. We booked a white colour 110 PS RXZ (O). I did not follow up with the dealer but bang on September 1st the dealer called and said my car is ready in their stock yard. I had not started the car process with my company yet. I was not really expecting the call so soon. I started that process in a hurry and finally we took the delivery 2 weeks later. The process was fast, efficient and smooth at the dealer end. He was ready with the car, a flower bouquet, a box of chocolates and a camera at the agreed upon time. Took a few snaps of the car and we drove away. The car had around 10 L of fuel left and the odo read a 2 digit KMS on it. It was difficult to sink in, all of a sudden we were driving a new car and our love for Civic was still intact. But we only need one car.

Looks
Looks are highly subjective and personal. The car sure does not feel like an overgrown hatch. The person who cleans my car came up and asked for a raise to clean the car. "Sir, the new car is big and I need more to clean it" was his argument. I tried to argue with him Civic was bigger than this. The argument did not go anywhere and I gave him extra - not because the car is big but because my wife told he never asked for a hike for last 3 years. Someone known came up and said "THIS is a nice car and you can go along as a family". I was like "What about the old one ?". "That was okay", was his answer. I always thought Civic looked sexy inside out and would grab more attention than Duster. I guess I am being proved wrong.

Interiors
The inside is very wide - almost as good as the D1 segment cars. I don't know the interior dimensions but it is almost comparable to Civic. The cabin is airy and allows a lot of light inside. I am 6ft+, very picky about driving position ergonomics and I could find a good driving position easily without the telescopic steering. The under thigh support is better than cars of comparable price because of the higher seating position. The shoulder support could have been better. The adjustable lumbar support and the height adjustable driver seat helped immensely to find a comfortable driving position. Acceptable visibility all around. I said acceptable because I am not a big fan of bonnet being visible when driving. I consider it as a hindrance than anything else. The rear bench has good angle, wide, and has a headrest for the middle passenger. Neat. It should easily keep 3 average adults happy. There is no cheap gimmick of increasing the leg space in the rear by cutting down on the seat size/under thigh support. That said, the leg space is more than sufficient. RXZ(O) comes with leather/leatherette. I prefer it over cloth because it is easy to clean and the car interiors remain fresh. The car comes with a Renault cloth mat. If possible don't buy it. They charge around 3K for it. I bought it unnecessarily and I added a 3M mat worth(?) 5.5K later. The 3K worth mat is lying unused in the attic.

City Drive
I am used to driving an automatic inside the city for a while now. Coming from an automatic, driving the 110 PS Duster in the congested roads is a pain. Let's be realistic. The clutch is very hard compared to other cars. To add to the misery, Duster requires a firm downshift to first gear in many road bumps if you like to drive slow (read < 5 kmph). Even in a stop go traffic the car needs to be slotted into first gear *often*. Any dream of managing the show only with 2nd gear is totally futile. The alternative is to drive fast in 2nd gear over bumps, stress the suspension and make the passengers uncomfortable or slip the clutch liberally. My knees are already paining and thinking on ways to reduce my city runabouts. The car seems to have anti stall feature. The engine tries to rev up a little bit if the car comes close to stalling. As a result, if the brake is applied and if the car comes close to stalling, the engine seems to rev up a bit and the car does not stop at the expected place. Pressing the clutch stops the rev increase. No big deal - just thought I would mention it.

Coming to the external dimensions, the car is not very long. It is easy to drive the car around in the mall ramps or park. The huge wheel arches add to the look but it is not so easy to maintain it. The biggest risk is it could get hit on the pillars while parking/taking the car from the narrow apartment parking lots. The steering is not the lightest but it is light enough for city use. If 80% of the drive is inside a metro my advice will be to stay away from Duster 110 PS. I have not driven the 85 PS except for a very short test drive but what's the point ? I feel an automatic small car or even an automatic Rapid will serve the need lot better at a comparable ownership cost even with the subsidized diesel. Worst case, there are manual diesel cars with light clutch and no turbo lag out there at same or lesser price.

Highway Drive
This is where the Duster is brilliant. Slot it in the 6th gear on a nice highway, the car cruises in a relaxed manner all day. The 6th gear can be used all the way from 50-60 kmph. Many times I found it easy to go from 4th gear to 6th gear directly. I am not sure whether it has a bad effect on the engine. Experts comments are appreciated. Yes, a small bit of acceleration must be compromised but it avoids a shift. The acceleration is plenty for quick over-takes and to reach cruising speeds after slowing down in a speed breaker or a slowing down for a slow moving truck. The acceleration of the car leaves Innova in dust. But the car will find it hard to catch up with a Rapid/Vento or D1 segment cars. Car brakes well in straight line. Nothing to complain. The car hits 110 kmph at ~2300 RPM. The diesel NVH is negligible. Wind noise from A pillar ? My solution: Turn on the music. Even a low volume will do.

The turbo lag is not so much of an issue in the highways. If maximum progress is required precise shifts are required. If the car is in wrong gear by a gear, the car still makes acceptable progress. The car is best used as a cruiser. I feel anything more than 110-120 kmph is asking for trouble because of the increased centre of gravity. I don't find it comfortable to go into the curves as fast as Civic - no way. On straight line, the car is stable, rock solid and the steering feels good enough. No unnecessary vibration, nervousness or stress in the car. But it is important not to be fooled by the straight line stability. The problem will arise when an emergency maneuver is required at high speeds especially with no ESP in the Indian version. Overall, I need to keep telling myself I am driving a cross over and not a low slung sedan. Not at all a deal breaker - just needs getting used to. I am enjoying cruising now! Hardly makes any difference in the travel time anyway.

Ghat Sections
I have not got a chance to drive the car in the ghat roads yet. GTO has mentioned about the aggressive centering action of the steering. In plains I did not feel it. In any case, I feel it will be a pain to drive 110 PS Duster in ghats - hard clutch and turbo lag.

Ride
The ride is on the stiffer side compared to Civic. On a long highway drive, my dad felt he preferred Civic and my mom felt she preferred Duster. But both felt the difference is not significant. I think that says a LOT about the car like ride quality of Duster in good roads. Wife has never been in highways in Duster. But inside the city she felt both Civic and Duster offer almost equal comfort. Duster marginally more because of higher seating position. However, Duster ride scores big time in broken roads and uneven roads. For example, the Duster dismisses the uneven entry/exit of many ill constructed bridges with ease. Broken roads, shallow potholes - no problems if the car is above 40 kmph. I can't imagine driving over these roads without slowing down in Civic or in any other car in this price range. At very low speed Duster's ride is stiffer than I would like. Passengers are thrown around in the car a bit more than in Civic but nothing alarming. The lateral movement of the passengers inside the car is more during quick turns than Civic. Overall, I could say I feel about 10% more tired in Duster than Civic in a long drive. Not a significant difference.

Deal Makers, Deal Breakers and What could be overlooked:
Deal Makers: Go anywhere attitude, NVH levels, ride quality, acceleration, ground clearance and space.
Deal breakers: Hard clutch, frequent gear shifts (Imagine getting the car to 1st gear every time a big bump or stop-go traffic is encountered), not suitable for throwing into corners, not suitable for emergency maneuvers at high speed.
Could be lived with: Minimal feature list, interior quality, messed up ergonomics.


Some more pictures:
An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-05img_1011.jpg

An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-10img_1031.jpg

An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-02img_1007.jpg

Notice the steering does not have the wooden finish. The wooden finish of RXZ(O) is only for the doors. Oversight on part of Renault.
An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-08img_1021.jpg

The indication on the A/C control knobs are simply not visible from driving position. Considering changing them to bright white LED lights if possible. Also notice the missing illumination for the 'Lock' position on the left side of the hazard switch. Volume buttons near co-passenger than driver. The entire console is geared to left hand drive.
An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-09img_1026.jpg

It got dark before I could take this picture. The 3M Nomad mat. This picture also gives the view of centre console. Notice that no indication is visible on the A/C control knobs.
An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)-07img_1016.jpg

Last edited by idofsuresh : 7th October 2012 at 14:25.
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Old 7th October 2012, 01:15   #2
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Default Renault Duster RXZ(O) 110PS: Ownership Experience

Small yet significant things:

- Bluetooth hands free in the car does not seem to work well. The other party hears their own voice when I put them on the car speaker. Need to check with the dealer.

- The glove box light comes on only when the main light or parking light is switched on. Stupid idea. The glove box remains dark even in day. What were you thinking Renault? Thankfully, the boot light comes up even without the main light switched on.

- The music system has a mind of its own. Not sure they are bugs or features. Will figure them out eventually. The steering mounted control does not let to scroll across folders or go to parent folders. It only lets to scroll within same folder.

- The USB slot is somewhat awkwardly placed. The USB stick could hit the hand if the hand is carelessly moved from gear lever to the steering. Somehow the entire center console seems to be left hand drive oriented.

- The window control panel on the driver door has rough edges. The right knee hits the rough edges during long highway drives. Ergonomic mistake.

- Front door pockets does not hold 1L Kinley bottle and there is no reasonable place to keep the bottle. Solution is to buy 500 ml bottles. The rear doors do not have pockets.

- The markings on the a/c knobs like temperature control, direction control and fan speed control are not visible both in day time and in night time. It is very hard to know where the control knob is pointing to from the driver position.

- The driver seat adjustment has a good range and it was very useful for me. But it has only 3 positions - high, mid and low.

- Much has been said about wiper. It has 3 speeds. Intermittent, low and high. The speed setting of intermittent position is very good. The wiper did the job well in rain.

- The car is only about ~1500 kms driven. I am getting a mileage of ~12 kms inside Bangalore with an average speed of ~21 kms/hour. In the highway run it returned a mileage of ~16.5 kmpl. I hope it will improve by 2 kms once the engine is run in. The owner’s manual said peak performance can be expected after ~6000 kms.

- The electronic mileage indicator is almost perfect and it indicates the mileage conservatively. Yes, the tank full to tank full measurement showed a slightly better mileage than the electronic indicator.

- The A/C is effective for Bangalore. I am happy to have the rear AC for those few days when there will be passengers in the rear seat especially when the sun films are banned. AC effectiveness can be better commented by folks living in hotter locations.

- The car does not yet rattle but I feel it has a tendency to rattle. I think it will start to rattle sooner than later. Let's see how it goes.

Last edited by idofsuresh : 7th October 2012 at 14:18.
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Old 7th October 2012, 15:32   #3
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th October 2012, 18:39   #4
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congratulations on your car and this is a really nice owner report, you have posted.
I don't know why but most Indians are quite impatient in shifting into 2nd. Use the 1st gear a little more, you will find, it makes driving a lot more easier in traffic, also with Turbocharged cars it's good if you keep the turbo spooling, not just for power but also to keep your engine breathing optimum and reduce fouling. It will impact your efficiency a bit but keeps the engine in optimum condition no matter how much you have driven it.
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Old 7th October 2012, 19:18   #5
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Bests Wishes and congratulations on the new Duster!

A nice and relevant write-up on the intricate details of owning Duster.

Good pluses in highway handling and big internal space. You have also pointed out small but nagging ones like floor mats and ergonomics. Although i was struck with beige mats (which have to be covered immediately) in my ertiga zdi, mercifully all the bottle holders accommodate 1 litre bottles comfortably.

What happenned to the Civic?
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Old 7th October 2012, 20:00   #6
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congratulations on acquiring the Duster. Truly it is raining Duster's in TBHP.

You have made a wise decision in selecting the Duster instead of a Sedan.
A 5-seater vehicle with decent ride quality and ability to tackle rough roads is the necessity and in Bangalore you would need the high GC.

Hope the dealer lives to the customer expectations and that would truly sustain the success of the Duster.

Cheers!
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Old 7th October 2012, 21:48   #7
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Wow,I must say the duster looks beautiful in white. I have been considering this since a long time. I feel it would be perfect for our roads in Mumbai. I was planning on closing the deal soon, but then I read different stories of bad service , bad after sales ,lack of service stations, etc . I am very fond of the design and buff look of the duster. Even the interiors were liked by me, but essential features are missing. What's stopping me is the new entries in this segment which will launch in the next few years. For which I don't mind waiting.
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Old 7th October 2012, 23:03   #8
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Thanks for the review, we need more of these. Gives a better more balanced perspective of the car.

You are the second owner reporting the bluetooth echo problem, I think the other individual facing it got the HU changed but to no avail.

There is apparently a CASKA unit now available that will fit like a glove but at 50K its a steep upgrade.

Everyone without exception has praised the ride quality of the car. Your feedback is more detailed and nuanced. I think we need more feedback and discussion on the ride quality. This is one upside many folks are overlooking the other shortcomings for.
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Old 8th October 2012, 11:02   #9
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congratulations on your new Beast.

Wish you a pleasant and comfortable ride all the time.

Duster in White looks stunning and beautiful.

I'm a big fan of European Automobile and specially Fiat, Renault and Volkswagen for their super quality products combined with ride quality.

I'm waiting for my Duster to be allocated by Renault.
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Old 8th October 2012, 12:50   #10
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congratulations, Suresh, on your new DUSTER.

Hope you get many a happy mile with your new friend.

What is the service schedule for the Duster?
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Old 8th October 2012, 21:23   #11
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congratulations Suresh on your new buy. The description is quite vivid. SUV's do have their own pluses and minuses however.
The Mumbai floods of July 2005 saw many low-ground clearance bearing cars of all hues, stranded. Most of the SUV's lugged along and took their occupants to their destinations safely.
The Renault Duster belongs to the present, new generation of SUV's.
Downtown areas in any city as you put it are not for SUV's unless its unavoidable. The SUV gets scratches, dents and SUV driver falls a victim to the traffic chaos created by unruly users .
As SUV drivers in crowded city areas, we also have to be extra careful, not to be aggressive in our driving habits, as only a minor hit can toss a pedestrian or a two wheeler rider or lighter vehicles, to cause irreparable damage.
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Old 9th October 2012, 09:25   #12
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Congrats on the Duster! Wish you thousands of safe kms with her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by idofsuresh View Post
Civic does set high expectations in terms of comfort, driving dynamics, build quality and reliability.
You can say that again. I wouldn't really consider a move from a Civic to a Duster as an upgrade.

Quote:
Many times I found it easy to go from 4th gear to 6th gear directly. I am not sure whether it has a bad effect on the engine. Experts comments are appreciated.
Not bad effect at all. I frequently do this in 6-speed cars as the 5th is nearly as tall and doesn't give that "sudden" punch needed for overtaking.

Quote:
Wind noise from A pillar ? My solution: Turn on the music. Even a low volume will do.
Good one! The music system is my remedy for rattles that inevitably make their way to any Indian car.

Quote:
But it is important not to be fooled by the straight line stability. The problem will arise when an emergency maneuver is required at high speeds especially with no ESP in the Indian version. Overall, I need to keep telling myself I am driving a cross over and not a low slung sedan. Not at all a deal breaker - just needs getting used to. I am enjoying cruising now! Hardly makes any difference in the travel time anyway.


Quote:
The ride is on the stiffer side compared to Civic. On a long highway drive, my dad felt he preferred Civic and my mom felt she preferred Duster. But both felt the difference is not significant. I think that says a LOT about the car like ride quality of Duster in good roads. Wife has never been in highways in Duster. But inside the city she felt both Civic and Duster offer almost equal comfort.
Surprised you say this as I found the Duster's ride quality to be much, much superior to my Civics. Dealers are known to mess up tyre pressures. Can you double-check that of your Duster? I've got a hunch that your tyres are over-inflated by the dealer.

Thanks for sharing this unbiased report with us.
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Old 9th October 2012, 20:21   #13
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Very balanced review, thanks. How is the turbo lag and the gear ratios?
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Old 10th October 2012, 18:15   #14
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Default Re: An Owner's Take: Renault Duster RXZ(O)

Nice and unbiased review Suresh. Any car in White is always at its best. Happy and safe Motoring.
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Old 10th October 2012, 18:45   #15
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Default Re: Renault Duster RXZ(O) 110PS: Ownership Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by idofsuresh View Post
Bluetooth hands free in the car does not seem to work well. The other party hears their own voice when I put them on the car speaker. Need to check with the dealer.
Most Bluetooth head units have a mic sensitivity setting. Decrease the value of that setting and you should be fine.
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