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Old 16th October 2012, 12:23   #1
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Default My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report

Om Ganeshaya Namah

May this review be helpful to all TBHP readers.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-ganesha.jpg

Statutory Warnings:

1. This review may take longer than average to read. Please read at leisure.
2. This review is best enjoyed in an environment where you can play youtube videos with sound.
3. Any cars, manufacturers etc. shown in bad light in the review are purely the personal opinion of the author and the intention is never to hurt sentiments or feelings.


My first car was a pre-owned Palio back in 2002. Then I moved to the US between 2007-10 and indulged in a brand new Honda Civic for 3 years codenamed Basanti (Note: while Civic may be a D segment here in India, in US its an entry level sedan). When I returned to India in 2010 I was supposed to go back to the US, so bought a stop gap car. Thats when Hyundai i10 happened. The only criteria to choose i10 was immediate availability, I mean I literally went to the showroom and picked up one and came back by the evening. But the movement to US was cancelled for personal reasons, so I was immediately in the market for my permanent bigger car. No complaints against the i10 though, it was serving me well in Bangalore's crazy traffic.

Here are some pictures of my old cars as sweet memory (Dont have any for the Palio handy now).

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My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-i10.jpg


So while I was in the market for an upgrade I was in no major hurry so to speak, after all I had a perfectly working car. Though a little small in size it never really gave me any scope for unscheduled maintenance except for one occasion when one construction truck rammed into it from behind while it was parked right in front of my house.

So I started making list of my requirements over a period of time. Here they are, in no particular order but I have attached a weightage number to indicate how important were the requirements for me (on a scale of 5).

1. D for Diesel : I wanted a diesel car desperately because I drive 60 kms to and fro to work plus I go out of Bangalore frequently on weekend trips. And petrol prices were being hiked more often than various scams reported in India. (5/5)
2. Bigger Size: I wanted a car which can carry 5 adults in comfort while going out of city. Thats because my in laws join us for the outstation trips most of the time. That makes it 5 adults + my 2 yr old daughter. When they do not I end up with a friend's family, after all traveling out is fun if you have more company. That makes it 4 adults + 2-3 kids. At the same time the size must not cause problems in city driving. (5/5)
3. Luggage Space: This had to be ample. My wifey is not known to be a light traveler, just to give an idea she packs for around 7 days when we are going out for 2 days. Plus my little one's luggage outnumbers everyone else's luggage put together. My wife and MIL sometimes even carry a mini gas to cook fresh food for my daughter! (4/5)
4. The Looks: I am more of a conventional taste when it comes to cars. For me the car's overall design should flow like a "car" and not like a matchbox. Translated, in the hatch category I hate the design of cars such as Wagon R, Santro, Ritz, A-star, Beat or even the Swift. I likes the Palios, the Puntos. In sedans I think all cars are OK except may be the jugad designs like Dzire and Indigo etc. And if it comes to SUVs, Scorpios, Xylos or Yetis are a no no where as Safari, Captiva works and XUV minus the overdone front design. And of course one more vehicle works, no prizes for guessing that. Note: No offense at all to owners of the cars cited, after all this is a very subjective matter and if you have a sharp eye you will see a Santro in my garage, which I had to buy for the wifey since there were no other affordable AT hatches. (4/5)
5. Reliability: One strong lesson I learnt from my first car (Palio) which was a pre-owned is that reliability is becoming extremely important as the total time we have in our hands is becoming less, thanks to the increased work pressure across all industries and traffic chaos to reach work! (3/5)
6. Safety Features: I must say when you are a novice you dont care much about the safety features of a car but once you grow mature you realize how critical are these features. So safety features were definitely a priority for me. (4/5)
7. "Bad Road" Handler: Everyone knows how bad our roads are getting. In Bangalore specifically the road condition swings between worse and pathetic. Plus I venture out to rural areas a lot in weekends, so a car which feels at home for such roads was a requirement. (3/5)
8. Ride/Handling: I just hate bouncy and stiff suspension cars. Period. (5/5)
9. Engine/Power/Driveability: For obvious reasons (4/5)
10. After Sales Service: For obvious reasons (5/5)
11. Budget: Between 11-12 lakhs (5/5)
12. Fuel Economy: I am not too crazy about "Kitna deti hei". Thats probably one reason why you dont see any Maruti in my garage. Having said that it should not burn my pockets too like a Safari would have. So wanted decent fuel economy. (2/5)

Apart from the above there was a soft requirement. When I migrated from low slung cars such as Palio and Civic to i10 & Santro, I immediately realized that I like the higher position of seating and the view you get, plus I always had a soft corner for SUVs while being in the US, in fact if I had returned to the US I had all plans of getting my hands on this: http://www.infinitiusa.com/ex/key-fe...e.Key_Features

Dont get shocked by the price, cars in USA are surprisingly affordable via the lease route. I dont know why that model is not prevalent in India. I think I saw Merc starting that few months back.

Year 2011

With my requirements document frozen I was awaiting for potential prospects from the various vendors. At this time I had ruled out hatches because of Req # 2 but I had NOT ruled out Sedans. Plus there were no affordable SUVs anyways so there was no other option. And that is exactly why I considered the following sedans:

New Ford Fiesta: Ruled out instantly just by checking the price. Thats not enough car for the price. Seemed narrow too for 3 people to seat comfortably in the back. Unwanted features such as Cruise Control were overkill too. I mean, where on god's green India can you possibly use cruise control? May be in the new Yamuna expressway? But I am sure no where else. Note: Before you kill me, in my opinion the real use of cruise control is not to engage it only to disengage it within 2 minutes, but to use it for at least half an hour like you can in the US Interstates or German AutoBahns.
Result: Ruled out without test drive

Fiat Linea: I had a terrible experience maintaining the Palio. Every little part I used to need I used to hear that they have to source it from Mumbai and minimum time is 3 weeks. I had sworn I will never buy a Fiat in India ever again even if they gave it to me for the price of Nano.
Result: Ruled out without test drive

Hyundai Verna Fluidic: Well, I loved the way it looked, just my kind of flowing (fluidic) design. And, damn, was it fully loaded or what? Feature rich. Hyundai surely knows how to package a car for Indians, probably more than Maruti, just that they cant beat Maruti in the "Kitna Deti Hei" department which the average Indian is so eccentric about. But one test drive for 20 mins and I had enough reasons to rule it out. There are many good things about the car, and that is probably why it still sells >5000 units per month but the following were deal breaker for me:
1. The engine never felt it had 128 horses at any range.
2. The seating was so low (even at highest position) that I had to look up even to Auto Riks!
3. Though I did not experience it myself, I was aware about its infamous handling capabilities at high speeds, something I could not have sacrificed if buying a sedan, may be OK if I was buying an SUV.
Result: Ruled out after test drive but would remain in contention for some months to come as a backup.

Honda City (ANHC): Great car to drive but low slung, had the potential to belly scratch everywhere if 5 adults and 1 kid were laden when I was navigating via some crude roads. Not too many features either for the price and last but not the least no Diesel. Bye bye.
Result: Ruled out after test drive

Volgkswagen Vento: My brother in law bought one. So I have driven it more than you can in a test drive. Its a great car, good power, minimum turbo lag, it was ticking all the right boxes except for:
1. Bare basic equipment level for the price (Its changed now with the refresh)
2. Big transmission hump, causing inconvenience to the 5th passenger
3. Dealer attitude: I mean, I have seen bad dealer attitude but nothing can beat the VW dealers in India, they think they are doing a favor by selling the cars and the worst part is this attitude is not specific to one or two dealers, its alarmingly consistent through out India, its almost like a culture for them. I experienced this first hand since I took delivery for a Polo for my dad outside Bangalore.
Result: Ruled out despite liking the core of the car
Collateral Damage: Skoda Rapid ruled out

Other sedans ruled out without even thinking twice:
Tata Manza: Too boxy for my choice
Nissan Sunny: Too long for the city
Swift Dzire: I hate it when manufactures add a box to a hatch and call it a sedan
Maruti SX4: Its a good petrol car, but the diesel is grossly underpowered

XUV 5OO Mania

And then one fine day when I was sipping tea I read a news article about Mahindra launching a "world-class" SUV. For some reason the initial impression I got is that it is only for export markets. Thought may be its too good for the Indian market. And suddenly I read few days later that Mahindra has stopped booking because they exceeded the quota for 2 months of manufacturing capacity! Daimn, what just happened? What did I miss? It took some time for me to digest that such a fully loaded vehicle has indeed been launched in the Indian market and that too for a mouth watering price.

Within a few days I was seen at the Mahindra showroom test driving one. It was definitely love at first sight. I liked everything about the design except for the overdone front. Awesome list of features, some new ones such as lounge lighting, conversation mirror etc. And it was great to drive too, the engine is a stonker! Only negatives being it was a wee bit large for city driving and turning radius wasnt great.

If the bookings were open I would have booked one that very day, however destiny had something else for me. The second phase of bookings, the lottery system was a big joke and I stayed away, gambling being not one of the vices I possess And also the vehicle being completely new and being an Indian manufacturer I did want to wait a little to see how it does on the road.

While I was waiting for the third phase of bookings, slowly but surely I started hearing about the various issues, niggles. While I could very well live with issues in electronics such as TPMS I could not have tolerated brake or clutch failures or diesel leaking. These failures, even if occurred for 0.1% of the owners does not inspire confidence. But yet, hoping against hope, I kept in touch with the dealer to check if subsequent batches are coming entirely free of issues but the niggles thread in TBHP kept growing.

So reluctantly, and very much against my heart, I kept away from booking one but it remained as a very strong contender until the last moment.

Oh and btw, I learnt about TBHP by reading the XUV 5OO review which a friend (non member) had referred me to. So if I am here in TBHP its because of him. He is a die hard TBHP fan, talks a lot of cars, but just too lazy to try and register.

Tata Aria

Well, the price was never in my budget, but this being the only other vehicle in the < 20 lakhs SUV bracket I did give it a shot. The looks were nothing to write home about, IMO it looked more MUVish than SUVish, I would have needed to encroach my neighbor's parking lot as well and it didnt drive all that great anyways. But worth mentioning once here at least.

Skoda Yeti

This was always way outside my budget despite the huge discounts that come on and off. Plus I never liked the way it looked from outside though I know its an amazing vehicle from the core-car perspective. And then I really did not want to take my chances with Skoda after sales no matter how good the vehicle is. I can take a risk for unknowns but not when its known to be bad.

Auto Expo 2012 - Ecosport, Duster & Ertiga

Towards the end of 2011, news started trickling in that the AutoExpo will reveal EcoSport & Duster (The Ertiga was a surprise for me actually). So I was waiting for the AutoExpo more eagerly than the annual increment letter because both these vehicles met most of my requirements.

And sure enough not only EcoSport and Duster, but surprisingly for me Maruti even announced the Ertiga out of the blue. So here I had enough food for thought to last the next 6 months, doing the comparison of these 3.

Database Update: Insert 3 more records to Prospects list.
Select * from Prospects = XUV 5OO, EcoSport, Duster, Ertiga

So between Jan 12 and June 12, I spent most of my time reading every little news, reviews, videos, blogs that had anything at all to do with any of these 4 cars. Heck, I would have even seen 100s of videos where I dont even understand the language (Russian, Portuguese and what not). And as I read more I realized that the segment that these 3 cars from AutoExpo are targeting is exactly what I was looking for (not too big for city but spacious enough for the highway). In parallel I did not hear any encouraging words about XUV 5OO's reliability, owners continued to discover new issues, oh how would I feel if I smell the stink even if the recirculation button is on? Plus, Mahindra had silently increased the XUV price twice by now and the price was no more mouth watering and out of my budget by >20%. And hence with a heavy heart I ruled out XUV 5OO. And come May or June, I forgot which month exactly, I even got a chance to see and test drive the Ertiga.

Maruti Ertiga

Maruti knows exactly what the Indian customer wants, their market research department must be in good hands. So they put together a car for the typical Indian family which is 2-4 in size but the occasional parents/in-laws/friends are not really occasional and hence you need those extra seats. If you fold the seat you got luggage space. Plus, the car is surprisingly compact from the outside for city driving and add to that the bullet proof reliability of Maruti and you got something there. Or do you? I ruled it out because:
1. Looks more like a MUV. It has design cues from several other cars such as Ritz, Swift, Innova etc. And guess what I hate it when a car does not have its uniqueness. Actually IMO, Maruti never learnt to make good looking cars because their cars sell based on their fuel economy and reliability, 2 things which the Indian customer would kill for. No offense to owners, but I cant think of any Maruti which has good looks, is original and has character. The best bet would be Swift but unfortunately that design is a direct inspiration. Take a look at the new Alto 800, the exterior design is a joke, cant figure out which part they have copied from which car.
2. The engine lacked the punch for me. It just didnt have the adrenaline rush. In 2nd gear, with 5 adults on board, you could break the gas pedal by stepping hard on it and yet you have nothing for a good 3-4 seconds.
3. It was too narrow for 3 people in the 2nd row if I had to fold the 3rd row for ample luggage space, which one would more often than not.
4. I was quoted >6 months waiting period for the ZDI variant. Would I wait that long after having made the decision to spend close to 1 million Rs of mine? Not Really.

EcoSport vs Duster

So it all came down to 2 choices and I mentioned EcoSport first intentionally because clearly it seemed to be leading. It looked stunning with its futuristic design as opposed to a sedate design of the Duster. It had a whole lot more features, Ford was more established in the market than Renault and was known to produce cars that handle well. And yet Duster had its own advantages too (more on that later). I continued my research on both cars on all possible forums with all the intention of waiting for both cars to arrive before making a decision. But that changed around end of June.

The Decision - The Duster

Before you ask me, below is the comprehensive list of reasons, factors which lead me to not to wait for the EcoSport and zero in on the Duster, in descending order of importance.

1. Confirmation that EcoSport was <= 4.0m in length. No matter how hard you try you cant liberate more space out of it than a spacious hatch.
2. The highlight of the EcoSport was the petrol EcoBoost engine. I was not too keen on Petrol even if it was a award winning one. The Diesel being offered had nothing great about its reliability (as compared to a Fiat MultiJet or Renault K9) and at 90 BHP was less powerful than Duster could offer (Though eventually I would book the 85 BHP Duster, more on that later).
3. I liked a lot of things in the Duster as I learnt more (details later).
4. The EcoSport launch was getting more delayed than we typically delay a software delivery process. First they said middle of 2012, then Diwali and then beginning of 2013 and finally Q1 of 2013 which translates to March 2013. Too long a wait.
5. Last but not the least, one of our many mentally challenged ministers started talking about a special tax for diesel vehicles. While I knew it would take some for that to be implemented I would have kicked myself if I was one of the first few customers to become "bali ka bakra"!

The First Look

Renault did one good thing in deciding to launch the Duster on July 4th. Apparently it was their fourth car launch in India and so. It helped me because my USA customers were off so I had a little bit of wiggle room to go check out the car I had been waiting for so long. I reached even before the showroom guys have had a chance to clean up the Duster and put it in its position. Below is what I saw, note how they wanted to highlight the SUV character of the car by placing it inside some artificial-rough terrain!

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I loved what I saw. The car was more or less to my expectations, exceeding in many areas, lagging in only few areas. From that day onwards it became a routine for me to stop by the Renault Showroom (thank heavens the showroom was on my way to work) either to test drive or get more information etc. In parallel I was working on securing an approval from my home minister to go ahead and book the car.

Booking -> Delivery Experience

Which Variant: Renault surely screwed up the variants. The worst part was that the top end RXZ variant had so many things I just could not tolerate. The leader among them being the incredibly stupidly designed Rear AC tower. It was a direct contention to my 5th passenger. Plus the silver color ORVMs, the not so great looking wood door trims. And yet I wanted airbags, alloys, reverse parking sensor etc. which was not available on the RXL. Therefore the 85 RXL(O) made the perfect sense, the only compromise being the less powerful engine. But considering that the 85 was much more driveable in the city, had a price benefit and was slightly more fuel efficient I figured I will settle for the 85 RXL(O). And so I did book the RXL 85(O) on 9th July 2012. At this time I had not even test drove the 85, because it was just not available.

Post Booking: Initial delivery estimate given was middle of September. I patiently waited for 1 full month until 9th Aug. Started following up there after only to learn that my car is not even allotted. Weeks passed but there was absolutely no news of RXL(O). Apparently they were only getting the RXZs and RXL 110. Clearly they had planned to manufacture the 85 in second phase. In between I was told they are testing the airbags models more rigorously and hence the delay, which did not explain how RXZs were getting delivered. The only thing that could make sense was that they manufactured the RXZ (or RXL 110) version first for what ever reason (high margin?). And yes, they did under estimate the demand for RXL(O), I think 70% of the bookings were for that variant.

Customer Care: After having got no actual update on delivery date from the dealer I even tried calling the Renault Customer Care. The less that is said about them the better. I could imagine them sitting in a room with a pen and paper and absolutely no other information at their disposal. Everytime I called they asked me my name, what I have booked for and when and that they will get back to me, which never happened even once for the 5-6 times I would have called them. If not a delivery estimate the least I was expecting them is to confirm whether or not my booking is successfully registered with them. No dice. Latest update: I got a call from them after 1 month of delivery to check if I have got the vehicle or not. May be things are improving there, not sure.

The Good News: And then there was a day, a Saturday I believe, the weather was beautiful and I was enjoying our evening tea/snacks when my SA called and offered me a Red Duster but RXL 110. I could get it in a week if I agreed. I quickly did the math. Among the features that the option pack offered, ABS+EBD+BA was there in the 110 BHP RXL which was the most critical thing for me. I could add Alloys, Reverse Sensors myself. The seat belt reminder was not a big deal. So the only thing I would lose out were the Airbags. Wifey also was excited to get it so quickly. So I confirmed within an hour.

The PDI: No prizes for guessing, took the exhaustive TBHP PDI checklist which I had slightly customized for Duster, removing things which are not available in Duster at all or adding small small things such as the hydraulic bonnet holder etc. Here is that file I used.


Found the car satisfactory from all angles, had done around 60km which added up to the distance from the stockyard (Nelamangla) to the showroom (KR Puram). Yes, I did the PDI in the showroom, as somehow they managed to get it to the showroom before I made any payments etc. And yeah, although the PDI has several things based on how it drives, its impossible to test them as it is not legal for the dealers to let you take it out of the stockyard or the dealer premises. Gave the dealer green signal to proceed in the delivery process.

Here are couple pictures. No prizes for guessing what that paper is, its the PDI checklist!

My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-pdi1.jpg

And here is how it looked before the current set of alloys!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-pdi2.jpg

Some Pre-Delivery Details:
1. Price Components:
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2. Discounts: Zilch, dont even think about it for a year
3. Insurance: Opted via dealer even though I was fully aware of the extra premium they charge, for two reasons A) Didnt have time for the extra hassle B) No confidence on Renault if I pick up a fight with the dealer. Went with Bharati AXA (other choices where Royal Sundaram & HDFC Ergo). Took the zero dep, total premium 40K! Had got a quote from ICICI Lombard in parallel just to check the difference, they were quoting 30K.
4. Finance: Went with SBI, other choices were Kotak and HDFC I think. Would recommend SBI as their fine print is less and you can pre-pay any number of times at any time without any penalties, though the initial processing time is a little longer at close to 1 week as compared to 1 day for the other private banks. Rate of Interest: 10.75% Floating
5. Off topic but while applying for the SBI loan I realized that India has silently implemented a Credit Score like system which is widely used in the US. Same scale of 300-900 and it is done by a body called CIBIL (http://www.cibil.com/credit-score). Of course the more your score is the more the chances of you getting the loan. Plus, unlike in the US, there is a second score which measures how friendly or otherwise you are with banks. So for example, if you blasted the call center guy at the other end, he/she may deduct 10 from your score!!! Am I glad the only call center people I really blasted were from AirTel!

The DDD (Duster Delivery Day)

Finally, the day had arrived. I had chosen the Ganesh Chaturthi day. Usually I reach work at 11 am but this day I was in the showroom by 10 am! Everything was in readiness, all papers signed I jumped into the beauty.

Standard Accessories/Goodies (Rs 3000)
1. Mud flaps
2. Floor mats (Beige color, black would have been better)
3. Bhagwat Gita book
4. Some chocolates (Car shape chocolates, wifey likes)
5. Mini Ganesha idol
6. Breakdown warning indicator
7. Jack + Spanner

Went to the Mahadevpura Shell, and got a shock not aware of the recent hike in premium diesel. Rs 68/l for diesel. Thats more than petrol in some Tier II cities! And here are some pictures right after delivery, while I was in cloud 9.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd2.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd4.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd5.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd6.jpg


Alright, so finally after that long build up I think I am ready to tell you what I think of the car in the various areas (If you are rather interested in a short summary of likes and dislikes please jump to the last)

Before that just to let you know my usage is definitely higher than average. I drive 60 Kms a day to and fro from work. Apart from that I venture out of Bangalore at least once a month or sometimes more. When I started writing this review report I was at 1 month of ownership with 2200 on the Odo. Inside the city I come across traffic which is bumper to bumper in good days and number plate to number plate in bad days .
Edit: And while I am ending the review I am at 2 months with 5500 kms on the Odo.

The Engine

All of you must be aware of its specification, what I can add is it delivers more than what you come to think of it. For example I found it much more peppier than other engines which are more powerful on paper like a Verna or an Aria (but not the XUV). The VGT does exactly what it has been designed for and I love that rush of blood when it hits > 1800 rmp. If I were to say the turbo lag doesnt cause any problems I would be lying. Having said that its not too much and once you get used to it and learn the tricks to avoid it there is absolutely no problem. And by tricks I mean just being extra careful to use the right gear, revving the engine a second before you are releasing the clutch so that its already in the right band of rpm to pick up steam etc. no rocket science there. If you are coming from a petrol these things may be a little odd but it will last all but a month, nothing more. And once the turbo has kicked in, be somewhere else. In fact the other way I describe the turbo lag to my friends is "People should have 2-3 seconds to admire my car, then I am gone "

It feels happy in the range of 1800-2800 I would say, and not strained till 3000. I have hardly gone beyond that to give it an extended run in. The NVH levels are surprisingly good, if you are in the happy rpm range, its hard to say that you are driving a diesel, though you can make out while starting it, there is a noticeable amount of vibration that time but nothing like an India or Sumo etc.

And lastly just as a reminder, this is the second national engine in India after the Fiat Multijet and has proven reliability in work horse vehicles such as the Logan.

Exterior Design & Styling

Right, so this is a subjective thing. So I cannot list out specific +ve and -ve point wise. Personally I liked the simple yet definitely SUVish look. Not overdone like the XUV and yet is a head turner. Stands tall enough and not too tall to ride like a boat. The stance is awesome from the front and side. I guess this is what I mean:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-postd3.jpg

Not that great from the back though, looks like a frog from the back.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-back.jpg

Otherwise, it has the right curves at the right places, wheel arches are flared just the right amount. Ok may be a little more than required. Overall it works for me really well.

Driveability - City

Drives like a charm in the city. I graduated from a hatch and there were only a few occasions when I felt any difference in overall driveability in the city.

+ Enough power and pick up to deal with those Indicas and Sumos
+ City Maneuverability is amazing, quick lane changes are a breeze, you could feel you are in an Alto!
+ Great commanding view and the ability to see the bonnet gives you more confidence in B2B traffic
+ The low end torque helps you amble along in slow moving traffic without much activity on the right leg
+ The gear ratios are tall enough to manage city driving in 2/3/4 gears. You can use the 5th if you are lucky and if you are able to use the 6th you are definitely not in Bangalore!
+ Talking of gears, they are not butter smooth like my i10 but they are smooth enough not to cause any noticeable discomfort and definitely smooth enough for a diesel. Slotting the gear to the 1st or 2nd gear may sometimes need a little bit of effort.
+ The steering, in my opinion is perfect, not too light like an EPS and not too heavy either.
+ Braking is awesome, at no time you will lose confidence.
+ Lights are extremely bright for city driving (not so great on the highways)

- Turbo Lag: It does affect you when you have to slow down a lot, for example after a speed breaker. Sometimes shifting down to the 1st gear is required if you want to make a quick move. Or you could start hitting the gas slightly before releasing the clutch, though not sure if thats a good practice so to speak.
- Hard Clutch: If you are in bumper to bumper traffic for more than 30 minutes you start to feel the pain on the left leg. But not that bad to have a leg pain at the end of the day!
- While navigating mini mountains (They call them speed breakers in Bangalore) the vertical movement is a wee bit more than my liking.

Driveability - Highway

I have taken her (yes Dusty is a girl name too) for a spin in the highways 3 times already twice to Chikmaglur/Dharmastala area which has 2 ghat sections and once to Tiptur.

+ Its an absolute pleasure to drive this beast in the highways. Pulls cleanly in 3/4/5 gears and 6th gear is very smooth.
+ Overtaking is a breeze even in the 5th gear, the in gear acceleration is awesome and makes me forget all the turbo lag moments in the city for the last 1 month!
+ Even with 5 adults and my 2 year old and AC on I was able to navigate the winding ghat roads of Charmadi and Shiradi ghats with ease in 3rd/4th gears.
+ Again, the seating position is a great help to spot the bad roads and the bad drivers ahead
+ Handling is great too, never had to slow down for taking any turns, never had any scary moments, but just to let you know I never attempted any turns at speeds > 80 anyways

- Not many negatives, the only thing I felt is the lights, when in dipper, were not too bright and the throw was short, even compared to my i10. However high beam was great
- The problem with high beam however is, if you are a good driver and do want to change to dipper when vehicles are oncoming its not that easy, because the stalk movement to toggle between high beam and dipper is not a simple up and down. You have to pull up the stalk until it clicks in place and the same upward->click movement for changing back to dipper, which in my opinion takes a few micro seconds more than normal and hence I end up not using high beam to begin with unless I know I am not expecting any oncoming vehicles for a long time.
- Oh and did I mention the steering gets ultra light at speeds > 130 kmph? There is a significant dip in the steering feedback after 130.

Build Quality and Fit & Finish

This is a mixed bag really. There are areas where the build quality is great like the paint, the consistent panel gaps, sturdy doors and boot, well appointed roof, neat tyre wells and flat undercarriage. At the same time there are areas such as interior paneling, knobs & switches etc. where the fit and finish is anything but good. Another point worth mentioning here is that the metal thickness of the body seems to be on the thinner side. Once a mini truck hit me from the back at low speeds, the panel got dislodged easily. However the good thing was that it snapped back into place when I adjusted it. Good for the pocket but may not be so good during life threatening event.

Below is the exact area where it was dislodged and I could snap it back.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-tail_light.jpg

And then you have the issue which people like Neil reported very early on, the wheel arch design and the small mud flaps ensure that in rainy reason in no time the side of the body and the back wheel arch is soiled. Probably the only way to prevent that would be to use wider mud flaps but that may spoil the looks. Not sure.

Below pics were taken barely 5 minutes after the car was cleaned and I took it out on a rainy day.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mudsprinkle1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mudsprinkle2.jpg

And then, something I managed to do which not many other Duster owners might have, just yet. I went on a deep trench with too much speed, actually a tempo went over it without noticing and I was too close behind it to see the depth. And below is what happened, there is a cloth like covering below the engine bay which got peeled off, I am in 2 minds whether to cut it off or stick it back using fevicol.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-undercarriagedamage.jpg

What about plastic quality? Sample this. The following damage to the sun visor was done by a sun glass holder which I got for free in some promotional event. The type which has a tight clip and clips on to the sun visor at one end and has a clip at the other end for your sunglass.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-sunvisordamage.jpg

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Old 15th November 2012, 06:27   #2
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Default re: My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report

Interior Design & Comfort:

Okay, this is where the plot thickens. Lots of people have bashed Renault for the cheap interiors. Do I agree with them? I would say partially. I mean, I agree to the point that some knobs, switches are flimsy but not to the point that the overall plastic quality, fit and finish is poor. Of course if you compare it to a Verna its bad, but Verna does have outstanding fit and finish in the interior department which very few other cars in the segment can match. If you compare it with any other C Segment car like Vento, Fiesta, Rapid, you will work hard to find any major differences in the overall quality of the interiors. Alright, you say you are paying couple lakhs more than a typical C segment car, but what about the other good things you are getting, such as the monocoque construction, great suspension, bigger tyres etc.? Dude, when was the last time you got everything you wanted for the price you wanted?

Having said that, lets get on to some finer details, shall we?


+ For 5 people of average Indian build, its very spacious. If you are complaining about leg space and head room etc. at least 2 of your family members should be > 6 ft. Otherwise you are complaining just for the heck of it. May be an Evalia for you then? Just to give you an exact idea, I carry my wife, 2 year old daughter, MIL and SIL (All less than 5.5 ft) in the back and they report a comfortable ride on long journeys except the wife, but then how many of us have been successful in pleasing the wife?
Below is the leg space I get for my position of driving (Height: 5.10)
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-leg_space.jpg
+ The front seats are comfortable enough on an average, I just miss the lumbar support which I think should have been there for a 12 lakhs car.
+ I have said this before, I will say it again, the driver/co-driver seat height is just right, great view of the road.
+ The ingress is effortless, just walk in and you are all set to crank the engine.
+ The theater dimming effect works nice and gives me a good feeling.
+ The seat upholstery quality is good. No complaints there.
+ The AC, I think is powerful. I say "I think" because the lack of the sun films can make it slightly hot even at 2nd speed, even though in my i10 1st speed used to chill me, I had 100% tints on my i10. And note, this is for Bangalore weather, other hotter cities might find 2nd speed plain insufficient and the 3rd speed is when the noise starts, dont even think about the 4th speed yet. But I guess the 4th speed is always noisy in all cars. Overall no complaints, I am happy except for one thing. The AC button is too small, is placed way below the comfort level and lights up in the same color as other lights nearby, making it difficult to locate it in a hurry in the night while trying to focus on the road ahead. I mean, I have a habit of toggling it on and off during night times to maintain the ambient temperature and it takes a little more time than ideal to locate it. In the following pictures you may think its easy to find it but thats when you are looking right at it, not when you are driving and looking at the road.
AC is off:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-acoff.jpg
AC is on: Spot the 1 difference!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-acon.jpg
+ The luggage space is humongous. This is one area where my wife has no complaints. And trust me, thats saying a lot.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-luggage.jpg
+ Talking of luggage look what I was able to easily transport in my Dusty. Actually this was a piece of cake, once I transported a diwan cot also, though I had to put forward the front seats so much that my chin was on top of the steering while driving. Forgot to take a pic that time.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-teapoy.jpg
Saved me a cool Rs 700 the truck fellow was asking even though it was just once piece I wanted to transport.

- The egress, though comfortable, results in your calf muscle being soiled if you have short legs (I am 5.10 ft) and dont make a conscious effort to jump a little. My wife gets mad at me everytime she spoils her new salwar kurta! Below is the exact place where it gets soiled, note that the image below is from google. Those muscular legs are not mine, though I might develop one over a period of time using the hard Duster clutch.
Name:  CalfMuscle.jpeg
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- I have tried a lot but somehow I could not find a good seat position which gives me enough support for my neck. Hence the following had to be procured, but guess what even these dont fit in perfectly to give me the required support. Not sure what exactly is wrong.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-neckrest.jpg
- The cup holders department is a mess. First, the primary 2 cup holders below the dash are not exactly usable, you cant keep any big bottle there as the top is blocked by the dash, plus the charger is in the middle. Can keep only small cups or coins etc.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-cup_holder.jpg
- Secondly, the doors dont have adequate cup holders, the front doors have pockets which cannot carry a standard 1 liter bottle, the back doors have absolutely nothing! And finally there is no handy cubby hole at the top of the door useful for storing food you are munching.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-cup_holder_door.jpg

Equipment Levels:

In summary, not at all exciting, definitely not for the kind of money you are paying for. Lets see if I can get this straight, I mean how many other cars can you find which retail for upwards of 1.2 million INR and still does not have a single air bag? Ridiculous really. Some other positives and negatives below:

+ Roof rails is there in all variants.
+ Nice XL size parcel tray available on all variants.
+ Seat upholstery is decent in all variants.
+ All variants have the steering tilt feature.
+ The steering mounted (oops, I mean the back of the steering) controls are a nice touch but have some limitations, more on that later.
+ The brake is outstanding. Never, for once, it gave me any scary moments. On different scenarios of varying urgency it stops exactly where I want it to.
+ The ABS, in my opinion and I may be wrong, kicks in a little earlier. Its hyper sensitive. It kicked in 2 times for me in city driving conditions, although for a second or so, when I tried braking while turning. I dont know if thats a good sign or bad?
+ The ORVM adjust under the hand brake, though criticized a lot, is easy to use even when the hand brake is not engaged. In fact the hand brake provides good support for the hand to be stable to make finer adjustments.

- ABS is not there in RXE and RXL 85, though it IS there in RXL 110 which may not be very apparent due to the chaos Renault has created with the variants
- The RXE and RXL variants dont even have a seat belt reminder. My 5 lakhs i10 Sportz had it. At least for the RXL you can get it with the option pack, only one small problem, you just have to pay 1 lakh more. Ludicrous is the word I think I will use to describe this situation.
- The driver seat height adjust should have been there in RXL variant as well, its only available on top RXZ, not even on RXL(O).
- For the money I am paying nobody should call me greedy if I ask for equipment such as ORVM turn indicators, ACC, Start/Stop button, Rear Parking Sensor, Alloys etc.
- Lack of dead pedal. Heck, there is no space even for resting your left leg to the left of the C pedal, let alone a dead pedal, real mess up in that area I say. People have complained about the placement of the C and B pedal (they being too close to each other), but I dont find that an issue, after all I do place my legs slanted like in a V shape anyways and not like H.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-dead_pedal_mat.jpg
- The remote locking is a disappointment. It produces no sound during locking/unlocking, so you have to watch out for the lights (2 times for locking and once for unlocking) to be sure that it secured the vehicle. On bright days its hard to figure out the lights especially if you have walked a few feet already. Not that you can afford to walk away too far because the range is at most 20-30 feet which I think is ridiculous, my i10 remote locking (forget the brand) had an amazing range, I could lock/unlock it from places where I cant even see the car properly. Besides, it has no goodies facilities such as panic mode etc. (my i10 system had both lights and sound panic). If there is one thing which is good about the remote locking is the ergonomics of the key, the open button is depressed and lock button is elevated, and they are big enough, which means you dont have to fumble for the right button as you would in a typical remote locking key.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-key.jpg
- Talking of locking, the central locking key is not a conventional one. There is a reason why most manufacturers keep it along with the driver door handle where it is intuitive (which position is lock and which is unlock). In the Duster its left or right. It took me a long time to get used to it, especially when I am trying to unlock it in a hurry after stopping the car before the passengers try to unlock it themselves using the flimsy individual lock/unlock on the doors and see the knob in their hands . Eventually I settled for the rule "press in the direction near to you to unlock". Or you could use L(eft) for (L)ock.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-central_lock.jpg
- The story doesnt end there. The central locking does NOT lock the driver and co-driver's doors from inside. So you or your co-driver can open it anytime. And since it does not have auto central-unlock on engine stop, I find myself going out and try to open the rear passenger door only to realize that I have to unlock it first.

ICE, Media & Bluetooth

Before I started typing I took about 5 minutes to think what good points can I write about the ICE, and I came up with none. Nothing is outstanding here, average at the most and with a good share of niggles and has one MAJOR issue. The sound quality is average, nothing to complain though. For readers who havent got a chance to hear out, here are couple of videos, though I am not sure if the recording in my phone has done justice to the actual sound quality which I think sounds better than what you will hear here.

Radio Sound Quality:

CD Sound Quality:

Anyways, lets start with some positives for the sake of consistency of the report:

+ Simple to use, no scope for any confusion, buttons are large and spaced out can easily reach them and use them.
+ Has all the features, Radio, CD, Aux, USB, Bluetooth, though for someone like me who stores all the data in a smartphone Bluetooth is all one needs apart from the Radio of course.
+ The behind-the-steering (BTS) control lets you easily change the volume, mute the audio, answer and end calls. Actually just like GTO I like this because you dont have to move your hand at all to operate these.

- The FM reception was spotty even in city limits. Fortunately this got fixed while I got the HU changed for the bigger BT issue which remained unresolved. This is bare basic and extremely bad on Renault.
- What would seem like the volume knob is either the frequency changer or menu navigation. Its not a problem for me as I use the BTS control but my daughter keeps rotating it expecting a volume up or down and gets disappointed with the result!
- The BTS control does not let you change channels or tracks, you need go to the main unit to do so.
- The other buttons on the BTS control like Radio, Media and OK are totally useless, you can never reach them while driving unless you take out the steering!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-bots.jpg


The very first issue I discovered within minutes of taking delivery (too bad I didnt do this in the PDI, but then it turns out its a problem in all vehicles) was when I called my wife to proudly announce that I am talking from within the new car and she says "Thats great, but whats with the echo?". There is a significant amount of echo, clearly audible to your caller. That is, the callers hear their voice repeat very clearly and very slowly after they have spoken.

When I spoke to the dealer, they discussed options of changing the mic, decreasing your volume, others advised to place the phone away etc. but soon I discovered something very shocking. A very basic flaw in the HU. When streaming bluetooth audio there is a significant gap in the audio delivery, I noticed it while playing a cricket video in youtube. So naturally that delayed audio goes back to the mic and to the caller. Check out the video below.

This is a big lapse in testing on Renault's part. I still cant believe such a big flaw has slipped in to ALL the Dusters on the road (confirmed by dealer now that almost everyone has this issue, just that some are oblivious of the same).

Update on the issue: I have had my HU changed twice already, still the same issue. When I last called a week back or so, Renault engineers were apparently convinced about the issue and are working on a resolution or replacement strategy. Hope to get this in weeks/months and not years as this impacts my business calls significantly and am having to use my earlier "iGadgets SmartTalk" I had on my i10. The problem there is I cant stream media from my phone. So its either Business or Entertainment and have to keep turning Dusty's Bluetooth on and off depending on what I want.

Latest update as on 20th Nov 2012: Apparently Renault engineers came up with a patch to the HU 2 days back, which resolved the issue 70%. Now they are working on a "patch to the patch" to completely resolve it which is expected in 2 weeks time. So December first week is when you should be calling your dealer left and right.

Suspension, Ride Quality & Handling:

Awesome. Period. GTO and others have said it has ride quality of a 30 lakhs car, and I cant agree more. So much so, if you have a Duster you will be waiting for bad roads during driving. Because thats when you can surge ahead of traffic without having to drive like a Bangalore Indica/Sumo driver. Everytime I glide over bad stretch of roads in Bangalore (read, everytime I drive inside Bangalore) I forget all the Cons I have listed in this review. Or wait, may be not the BT issue one, because thats one issue I cannot forgive Renault and it impacts my business directly and causes great inconvenience to me.

The handling department is not much behind as well. At no time I felt I upgraded from a hatch to a vehicle with 205 mm of GC. I continued my style of driving which involves sudden lane changes, turns at considerable speed etc. (but at no time causing inconvenience to others) without any problems. The turning radius also is great, never had to take any extra precautions for U-turns etc.

The grip provided by the MRF wanderers is acceptable, or may be a little more than acceptable. Have not driven in long stretches of wet roads though.

The steering feedback provided is good, I came from an EPS in the i10, so surely I could feel the extra feedback. However as I mentioned earlier the feedback dips significantly after 130 kmph, watch out! Another point worth mentioning is while turning (I saw in ghat sections) if I hit a bump or stone the steering tends to turn by itself significantly which I have to be alert to control quickly. Is this supposed to be a good sign or bad?

Fuel Efficiency

OK, so what if fuel efficiency is not on my priority list, it doesnt mean that if I get good fuel efficiency I will be in depression! So lets see what we have got here. Before we review that let me tell you, I would consider my driving style as "Mild Sporty". I wouldnt rev the engine anywhere to the red line, but I wouldnt shift up before the current gear has done 70% of its work!

So you are driving on a straight road between Bangalore and Bellary with little traffic on a cool night with no need of AC and you are in no hurry, you can get this:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-fe18.5.jpg
On the same road while returning, you get traffic and have to change speed often and it gets hot enough to switch on the AC, you got this:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-fe15.6.jpg
On a cold Bangalore night with no need of AC and with little traffic because of Diwali holidays you may get this:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-fe14.2.jpg
On a cold Bangalore morning with no need of AC, if you are driving to work slowly after a long weekend but with bad traffic, you may fancy this:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-fe13.6.jpg
On a typical Bangalore evening commute from work (Err, I mean crawl from work) with AC on you can only get this:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-fe12.6.jpg

Some other points about Fuel Efficiency:
  • I have noticed that the Duster is very sensitive to the driving style. You drive sedate, with speeds not more than 90, change gears early, dont rev the engine you get significantly higher FE, to the tune of 2-3 kmpl more.
  • If you want to extract the most out of Duster in FE department on highways drive between 80-90 kmph. Anything more it takes an immediate dip.
  • It doesnt seem very sensitive to if the AC is on or off, may be a difference of 0.5 kmpl at the most. This may be great news for AC buffs but not so great for people like me who like the open air more than AC.
And last but not the least below are my overall averages, taken using Android app "My Cars". These averages are a mixture between city and highway, sedate and spirited driving. But really, this is what actually counts at the end of the day. And no prizes for guessing, I am more than happy about it.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mycars1.png
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mycars2.png
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mycars3.png

Last edited by suchit23 : 21st November 2012 at 17:49.
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Old 16th November 2012, 02:14   #3
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Default re: My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report


Duster is a vehicle where you will end up adding a lot of accessories because A) It has a lot of real estate to add your stuff B) The ergonomics and lack of equipment will force you to add some C) If you have bought an SUV you will have the wish to add some show elements as well.

I had a 10+ item list of accessories even before I got the car. I had divided them into 2 phases, with most electronics and electricals scheduled for phase 2 to play safe to allow the after market people go through the learning curve and allow the dealers to understand warranty clauses.

So lets see what I have got in phase 1 as yet.

Alloy Wheels:
Brand Evo 7J, PCD 5/114.3, Design # 333.
And boy, do they look good on my red Dusty? The number of times I have got a compliment for these alloys is either equal to or more than the number of compliments I have got for the car itself!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-alloys1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-alloys2.jpg

Reverse Parking Sensors:
Brand Steel Mate http://www.steelmate.in/product-deta...p?product=NDc=
Very good performance, its extremely sensitive, detects objects very low and even objects which are to the side (not exactly back). The back sensors communicate to an ECU and the ECU sends signals wirelessly to the front monitor. The monitor has a digital distance indicator and as well as a voice warning. Overall very happy with it, except that sometimes the lady shouts at me even if some tree leaves are behind

Has 4 sensors as opposed 3 in the RXZ model and fits rather well. In fact I think the fitment is better than the OE in RXZ, have a look below.
This pic borrowed from GTO:
Name:  TBHPSensors.jpg
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And this is mine:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-reverse_sensors.jpg

And the monitor at the front:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-reverse_sensorsmonitor.jpg

Silencer Muffler:
What you get OE in RXZ, took from dealer. Refer picture above.

Seat Covers:
Brand Autoform, Art Leather
My budget was less here because my daughter will ensure I have to replace these every 2 years. This is a rope-tie fit type. The fitting is obviously no where close to OE leather types but works OK for me. Only 1 issue here, in hot days the back of the shirt does get slightly wet with sweat.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-seat_cover1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-seat_cover2.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-seat_cover3.jpg

Water Proof Mats:
At that time there were no proper mats for the Duster, not sure if there is one now in the market. So took the universal one as a stop gap, not a great fit but at least it protects the rug type mat that came from the dealer.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mat1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-mat2.jpg

Arm Rest:
This is a small desire I always had for long journeys which I do a lot. No exact fitment was available so settled for something.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-armrest4.jpg
Have to get used to use the hand brake a little differently, but not a problem.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-armrest1.jpg
Blocked the back cup holder but still can use it to store a perfume or something like that.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-armrest3.jpg
The height is a little less than ideal even at the highest fitment position, so I dont get 100% support for the hand.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-armrest2.jpg

Steering Grip:
Required as the OE steering offers minimal grip.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-steering_grip.jpg

Phase 2 accessories pending confidence building exercise:
1. ICE Upgrade
2. Remote Locking + Glass up module
3. LED lights

Phase 2 accessories pending availability:
1. Bull bars + Cladding
2. 3D Mats

Problems, Niggles & Issues

I would say very little except for the howler in the BT issue which we already discussed at length. Other than that just had some minor noise from the suspensions while releasing brake very slowly. And then the HU has few minor issues here and there like not being able to connect to the phone once in 10 times but a restart helps immediately. Not too worried about that. As devices get more and more complicated they do need a restart once in a while.

Just to highlight, absolutely no mechanical or electrical issues up until now. I am glad about this. Touch wood.

I have done 5500km as we speak now, and dont see any rattling etc. just yet.

Plus, no part small or big has completely failed yet, no matter how flimsy they look.

First Free Service Experience

The first service is at 2000km or 2 months but I was at 2000 at the end of 20 days. I delayed it as much as possible hoping they will have a fix for the BT issue for which I was in constant touch with the dealer but in vain, had to give in and go in for the service.

This service is a mere inspection type but the one thing they are doing is to give the engine a waterproof treatment (Chargeable to customer in Bangalore at least).

The SA was prompt in attending to me, warned me religiously about the fact that at no time the engine should be pressure washed and explained me about the waterproof treatment they are going to do. And this is what they produced, a neat job I would say:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-service1.jpg
And this is how it probably looked before the job, pic borrowed from GTO:
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They even offered themselves to take the car out for a road test, something I used to have to beg at Hyundai service centers so that I can show them the issues. Its a different matter altogether that I could not reproduce the minor suspension noise during this how much ever I tried, lost count of how many times this has happened to me, something happening so many times will not happen in front of the dealer.

During the service they were well disciplined as well to take care of the car, see attention to detail below, protecting even the gear knob!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-service2.jpg

Total time taken around 4 hours. Overall, I was extremely happy to see a good quality service given out by Renault. Total cost Rs 500 for the engine water proofing.

Also, originally I was planning to change the engine oil as per TBHP instructions to do so after 1000km but I realized its synthetic oil which is in already which costs Rs 4000 to replace, so decided against it. Even the SA was insisting that there is no need to change until 10K.

Renault Dealer - Renault Whitefield, Bangalore (Trident)

Have to put in a few words about the dealer. This facility was under construction when I first visited, had to watch out for construction objects falling on your head.

And hence it is quite a modern facility with full SSS, has good areas for customers with Wi-Fi etc. Tea/Coffee is offered promptly, has good amount of real estate to move around unlike some cramped showrooms I have seen in Bangalore.

The following google map could not have been more accurate. If you are going from K.R.Puram, go under the bridge and cross Whitefield Honda on the right hand side, take a U turn, come back near the bridge again and take a left. You will see Trident Hyundai first, right next to that is Renault.
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The employees are definitely on the decent side, friendly and helpful. Specifically I would like to thank the following people:

1. Tejas: My sales advisor. Extremely knowledgeable about this work and even for other chit chats. But most importantly he wouldnt haggle you for anything, like take the top model sir, take that accessory sir etc. etc. Honors your choice and decision. Shares information transparently and gives you honest opinion of things. Plus he is aware of TBHP and is a regular reader I felt. Many a times the first thing he would ask me is "What is TBHP saying about Duster?". Would definitely recommend him to prospect Duster buyers in Bangalore. Cell: +91 7353750004.

2. Somana: My accessory guy. Not much in business yet because there are hardly any accessories and which ever are, are overpriced but very nice guy nevertheless. Extremely courteous and sincere. Would take the extra step to show you the part in detail and would not mind if you didnt buy it after using his time! Cell: +91 7353750374.

3. Jai: Tech Assistance: He is charge of all technical issues post sale. So he is looking into the BT issue. Quite transparent in letting you know how things are going, does not try to hide information and confuse you. Cell: +91 7353750007

4. Prasanna: Service In Charge: Dedicated chap, does his work meticulously, explains everything properly and reasonably. He was proactive enough to ask me to show him the BT issue so that he can record it in his cell phone and send to Renault, plus was courteous enough to ask my permission to share my number with Renault in case they want to call me directly. Cell: +91 9743107931.

Last edited by suchit23 : 22nd November 2012 at 22:25.
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Old 18th November 2012, 01:22   #4
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Default re: My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report

Small but Significant things (No Specific Order)

1. The roof->door section design is such that it is very easy for rain water to come in if the windows are open or if you open the door to get out during rain.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-rain.jpg
And look at the amount of rain that came in when I opened the window for a second or so. This invites me to put the door visors, but those things spoil the entire look of the car IMO.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-rain2.jpg

2. The digital clock has 24 hours mode only. I like the 12 hour format better.

3. The HU volume always resets to 16 when you switch off engine. Not good.

4. GTO had mentioned the horn is no good but I found it pretty good actually. Its not scary loud like the Marutis which can unsettle the driver in the front and induce him to make more mistakes but it is loud enough to be heard clearly while not making significant noise pollution.

5. If you are resting your palm firmly on the gear knob, you can feel a slight movement of the lever when you accelerate. I observed it because I had never felt this in my earlier cars but may be this is a normal thing for bigger diesel cars.

6. The MID always starts from the ODO after an engine restart. Would have been nice if started from where I left it.

7. There is a mechanism for indicating lane change in a way that if you depress the stalk but not slot it you can activate the turn indicator as long as you have kept it depressed and it will come back when you let go. For proper turns you have to slot it all the way up or down.

8. The wind noise is significant but any music even at low volume solves the problem and there is no major inconvenience as such.

9. The key hole is probably not conventional, it took me a while to get used to it. I think I had seen similar in VW Polo.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-keyhole.jpg

10. The wheel arches are flared so much you must allow extra gap while navigating through narrow lanes and when other vehicles are coming close to you. In other words you must be careful everytime you drive in Bangalore. Therefore I have kept my left ORVM in such a way that I can always see the real wheel arch. Extremely useful to keep an eye on those insane bikers who think overtaking must be always done from the left especially when there is only enough space for a cycle to pass.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-rear_wheel.jpg

11. The headlight beam adjust knob is a terrible mess. I think they have re-used a knob which was used for a tractor. Look how when the white marker is at 0, the knob is still to the left of 90 degree. Very confusing you may try to turn it all the way up and break it because the marker is not visible from the drivers position. Besides it operates as if the knob is indeed pulling a string attached to the headlights via a pulley.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-beam_adjust.jpg

12. The door closing sound from outside may sound like tins banging, but the sound from inside is rather nice. I tried recording it but not sure if it came out as I wanted to convey, the sound in real life is much better from inside.

13. There is no single wipe button. However there is work around. The wiper+wash has 2 modes. The first mode is when you pull up the stalk for a second it is supposed to throw some fluid and do a single wipe only. You can use this, if you pull up the stalk for a millisecond it does not throw any fluid but does a single wipe anyways! If you pull up the stalk for > 1 sec it does 3 wipes after throwing a lot of fluid.

14. According to the manual the rear defogger, when switched on, is supposed to cut off in 12 mins. I have my doubts because A) When ever I used it felt like it was there after 12 mins as well, though I had cut off engine in between, may be the time resets after an engine cut off, B) Since the button is a left-right type what will be the position of the button when it auto cuts off? Also, the defogger if switched on, remains on after an engine restart.

15. The central locking system does NOT lock the co-driver's door from inside or his/her window. He/She is free to escape anytime you start driving crazy.

16. The AC knobs are so large (thereby covering the icons) and the indicator (pointer) so small you may struggle to figure out where the knob is pointing to.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-acknobs.jpg

17. The hazard light button is Off when depressed and On when released. Am I the only person who thinks thats opposite to the norm?
Hazard Light Off
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-hazard_off.jpg
Hazard Light On
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-hazard_on.jpg

18. On a similar note the AC button does NOT change position whether it is On or Off. Comes back to the same position. So if the light were to fail, you cannot tell if the AC is on or off.
AC is Off
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-acoffday.jpg
AC is On
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-aconday.jpg

19. Someone had reported its not possible to drive with your palm on steering because of the BTS controls. But for my small hands it doesnt seem to be a problem.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-palm.jpg

20. The individual door lock/unlock levers are real flimsy. Please dont give too much scope for the passengers to operate it!

21. The jack storage compartment is nice and big. Can use it for storing all the clothes, cleaning equipments, other emergency parts etc.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-jack.jpg

22. The DTE in the MID goes blank after the low fuel light goes on. Isnt that when I need the DTE most?

23. In the HU, the media gets paused when you mute, including youtube videos. Nice touch there.

24. The glove box illumination works only when the main lights are on. The what?

25. The Speedo scale starts at 20 kmph.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-odo20.jpg

26. If you are in Acc-On position and your phone is connected and then you start the engine the BT gets disconnected and gets connected again after a gap of several seconds. Same while switching off engine too. Irritating if you are on an active call.

27. The driver side window has no one touch down. Its such a simple but extremely useful feature left out by Renault in a 13 lakhs car. The Pulse has it along with anti-pinch feature. Ridiculous. No I think I should say Ludicrous. No no, I will settle for Preposterous.

28. After taking the key out, the steering locks at any position, you dont have to get it back to straight tyres like some other cars. Nice.

29. The power windows button on driver side are located in a nice position. Very convenient to use, dont have to retract your hand back and search for them like in some other cars.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-powerwindows.jpg

30. The manual does not have a section recommending right rmps to shift gears. And there are many other oversights as well in the manual.

31. The wipers, though cheap looking, do their job perfectly. Someone had said earlier it had 2 speeds, indeed it has 3 speeds and I had no issues driving in the dark in torrential rain in the Shiradi ghat sections.

32. Rear view is adequate and does not cause any noticeable issues while reversing, but suggested to use a parking sensor anyways as there are blind spots. Combine that with a great turning radius, parking is a breeze, I have managed to park it in tight spots where a Scorpio or Safari wont go even if you chopped their bonnet off!

33. The front cubby hole in front of co-driver, though big in size, is not very suitable for things like tissue paper box, note books etc. It should have been more deep and flat.
Good for small things, but I have a cubby for that in the middle already:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-left_cubby1.jpg
Not so good for big things:
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-left_cubby2.jpg

34. The following bottle holder strap GTO had captured is NOT there in my Dusty. Either they removed it from all models or it is only available in RXZ. What an expensive piece of equipment to keep only for the top model? I wonder if its part of the 85 option pack worth 1 lakh? Or is that too much to ask?
Pic from GTO
Name:  TBHPBottleHolder.jpg
Views: 38505
Size:  45.6 KB
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-bottleholder.jpg

35. This one is a 3 in 1 item. In the following video see how the MID illumination is brighter when lights are off (because of radium or whatever) and goes dim when lights are on. The french can really surprise you cant they? Also GTO had mentioned the turn indicator beep is not car like, do not feel that. Finally notice, how bright is the turn signal indicator. Oh you couldnt figure out which side indicator was on? It was the left!

Road Appreciations

Who ever said Duster does not have road presence, please hold your horses. It has tremendous road presence and is a definite head-turner. In the initial weeks I was spending more time responding to strangers than talking to my wife

And even today, on an average I get 2-3 head turns in a day. Some of the most interesting ones:

1. One gentleman in his Logan raced to my side, rolled down the window and did a thumbs up to me, much to the embarrassment of his wife who was the co-driver.

2. Was having breakfast in Tiptur (a small town) on a long drive. Suddenly two middle aged people barge in with no intention of eating and they are looking for something. They rule out the locals and come straight to me and start talking in Kannada, a language I dont understand fully. However a short conversation did happen where after congratulating me they were most keen on confirming how it performed on road. They say Music has no language, I say so does Automotive!

3. Two aunties were doing their morning walk and I was parked. I could hear them talking. Aunty 1: Nice car, what is it? To my surprise Aunty 2 had the answer "Its called Renault Duster". She even pronounced Renault correctly.

Some Misc Pics

I love this stance!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc1.jpg

No, the speed bump sign is not attached to my roof!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc2.jpg

Normally, I am a law abiding citizen.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc3.jpg

The Cheetah and the Leopard?
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc4.jpg

Dusty with a little bit of Dust. Actually red color still looks good, here I had 1 cm of dust on her.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc5.jpg

Dusty getting some oxygen after a long drive.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc6.jpg

Dusty's top view.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc7.jpg

My ride and my daughter's ride on Ayudha Puja.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc8.jpg

The entire sun inside my ORVM. GTO, did you say they were not wide enough for you?
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc9.jpg

The extended warranty certificate comes separately, dealer may forget to give it you like they did for me. Please pick it up.
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-misc10.jpg

I had attached this pic before, but this time notice how my flying hanuman jee seems to be holding the car identifying service card!
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-service2.jpg

Last edited by suchit23 : 21st November 2012 at 23:39.
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Old 18th November 2012, 03:29   #5
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Default re: My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report

Requirements Fulfillment Check

So, do I know if all the requirements that I listed in the beginning of the review were met? If not completely, do I know how much of it was fulfilled? May be. Because during my research stage I was using this excel sheet to compare the various options and looks like it is telling me my Dusty fulfilled 83% of my requirements as opposed to a 80% for XUV and 74% for Verna. But the scores are subject to change significantly for you because it works on the basis of how much importance (weightage) you are giving to a particular component of the car. Your priorities are most certainly likely to be different than mine.

My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-excel1.jpg
My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report-excel2.jpg

I am attaching the excel sheet here. The sheets are protected in areas you are not expected to change manually to prevent accidental changes. The protection password is tbhp123 in case you know what you are doing!


Summary of Likes & Dislikes

Alright, now to the high level summary, for people who didnt have time and skipped right to this section.

What you will like:
  1. The look is exactly what I wanted, a simple jeep like, not overdone and yet muscular and elegant. Do not agree one bit with people who said earlier that it looks like 2 decade old.
  2. Amazing engine, it may be less powerful than a Verna or XUV on paper but it has the punch to out run both of them. I have proven that on road at the time of speaking! Amazing in-gear acceleration in all mid gears as well.
  3. Out of the world Suspension and ride quality.
  4. Exceptional handling for a vehicle with 205 mm of GC, please dont compare with hatches and sedans.
  5. Excellent driving position which gives commanding view of the road and traffic ahead.
  6. Decent fuel economy for a vehicle of this size.
  7. Amazing luggage space.
  8. Excellent brakes. Does what is exactly supposed to do.
What you wont:
  1. Turbo lag is evident in 2nd gear in city driving.
  2. Clutch is hard for city driving for long time (> 1 hour at a stretch)
  3. Interior Build Quality and Comfort has several loop holes.
  4. Equipment level is less for the price you are paying (No airbags, no seat height adjust, trivial keyless entry to site some example)
  5. You may or may not like the ICE, its a close call.
  6. Several other small small useful features are missing, some of which are standard in a 5 lakh hatch these days!

Closing Note

I want to end this review by saying that it is possible that I have spoken more about the negatives of the car or emphasized them more than the positives. After all that is human tendency. If only we were happy about the good things in life and not crib too much about the bad things then we would all be happy! Having said that I have to say, in totality, I am extremely satisfied with my Dusty. I think it is worth every penny I spent and I would easily recommend it to anyone who has even half the set of requirements I had. In fact I would go one step further and say even if your budget is close to 10 lakhs, its worth bumping it up by a couple because this car can serve you 10 years easily and still get you good money in re-sale.

Happy & Sensible Driving, bye for now:

Last edited by suchit23 : 21st November 2012 at 16:02.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 00:35   #6
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Mod's Note: Thread moved to Initial ownership section from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!


By far this is one of the most comprehensive ownership reports I have seen here on Team-BHP. Hats off to you for covering every possible detail. Your thread will go a long way in helping prospective buyers and current owners of the car.

ps: A very Happy Birthday to you as well.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 08:02   #7
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Superb review, Suchit! Rated 5 stars.

The Duster is frankly the only vehicle in the UV segment that appeals to me, though it has its issues: hard clutch being one of them. If Renault finds a way of mating an AT box to that K9K engine, I will be the first in line!

The colour options on the Duster are quite cool. Your red looks smashing and the brown in the showroom that you shot is also lovely.

Keep posting- will be glued to this thread.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 08:11   #8
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Congrats on your buy. Nice and detailed review!

The Duster has made Renault's presence felt in India and if the minor dealership issues are sorted here is great potential of Renault increasing its market share.

All color options on the Duster look good. Keep posting your experience as you go.

Drive safe and Wishing you a great Ownership!

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Old 23rd November 2012, 08:26   #9
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Congratulations on the Dusty, the colour looks quite fantastic on the car. What a passionate write up, very detailed reviewe, thanks for the same.

Whenever I see it on the road, the Duster evokes the same feeling that I used to harbour for the Tata Safari. I personally feel the vehicle cant be categorized as an UV, coz it looks more like a sedan to me.

Its strange for the DTE to switch off after the low fuel light is ON, is this configurable or std as per the manufacturer. How much mileage are you getting from the Dusty?

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 09:20   #10
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Congrats on buying the Duster and I must compliment you on writing a very detailed ownership experience. Wish I had the moolah to buy one of these, the thing looks fantastic in red. The alloys are smashing too. Wishing you million miles of happiness.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 10:01   #11
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Default re: My Renault Duster 110 BHP RXL. EDIT: 25000 kms, Phase 2 accessories report

5-star thread! No doubt. The amount of information in this thread may likely be even more than the official review.

Duster is a good attempt by Renault, but I'm suprised by the total lack of features in such a high priced vehicle. This is the first Duster ownership report that I read fully - and somehow my mind can recollect mainly the points that highlight 'lack of features' part. Shame of Renault for not offering even a single airbag on a vehicle that costs 12L OTR.

I'm not sure if you have noticed the Duster website! Its one of the worst I have come across. Very less information and user-friendliness is not a strong point at all. http://www.renault.co.in/cars/Duster/home.html

That said - It has taken the game to a completely different level in the segment. Afterall - we were stuck with decade old designs like the Scopio and the Safari. I believe Ecosport wont hurt Duster sales as much as the entry level sedans. Together - these two products will really make the SUV segment grow as against the C segment sedans. Renault can have a dream run till 2014 when the all new Scorpio + Maruti Suzuki XA Alpha based SUVs are supposed to hit the market.

Another wonderful part about the Duster - the colour choices available. Atleast some manufacturers are thinking this over! Even Mahindra has a nice colour palette available on the XUV 5OO.

Wishing you thousands of happy miles! Congratulations.

In the following video see how the MID illumination is brighter when lights are off (because of radium or whatever) and goes dim when lights are on. The french can really surprise you cant they?
This is the case with many cars. Is it logical? If it doesn't brighten up - how can you read in harsh lighting conditions? Similarly - if it doesn't go dim at night - you'll get irritated with the glare after a while. Same case as how cellphone 'auto-brightness' mode is based on!

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 23rd November 2012 at 10:06.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 10:02   #12
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Congrats on getting home the Duster. Its raining Dusters everywhere. The alloys indeed look splendid.

The review is again comprehensive. The reviews over here are getting better by the day.

Enjoy many more happy miles with the Duster.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 10:58   #13
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A very nice review. Extremely comprehensive and in my view, an absolute "must read" for anyone on the forum or elsewhere, who may be considering a Duster.
I really appreciate your diligence and patience and attention to detail.
Thank you for the effort!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 12:23   #14
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Wow. Now this review is almost reaching General Guderian's level of detail.

Thanks a Ton !

The most comprehensive duster review on TBHP.

Nice color selection and I would have preferred black or gun metal finish alloys.

The ICE sounds pretty decent and speaker upgrade would do the trick. Hope RENAULT resolves the BT issue.

Any specific feedback on the MRF Wanderers ?

OFFTOPIC: I see your phone is galaxy nexus, which car holder is that ? Whats the price and where did you procure it from ?

Last edited by F150 : 23rd November 2012 at 12:25.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 13:11   #15
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A really comprehensive thread.

I suggest that links of such threads be mentioned in the original Official Review Thread of the vehicle.

Would like to hear the cost of accessories if you can.

Happy ride and ownership.
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