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Old 22nd October 2012, 18:23   #1
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Default SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Procrastination
Thanks to rental Rav4s in the US and the inevitable wanderlust induced by spending too much time in the travelogue forum got me looking at SUVs more closely last November with the XUV launch.

I procrastinated and missed the first lot booking by a day, found it silly to 'buy' on a lottery so gave that a miss. Was also pretty busy on the work front most of this year but looked at the Yeti, and even the Laura.

The Duster has been tracked on this forum for a long time pre XUV so a lot of folks were well informed. After news of the impending launch in July it became an option.

The Yeti was around 14.7 OTR after negotiation (Active) but somehow inspite of my best efforts to convince myself the looks didn't grow on me. It's extremely well built though. I even considered the Laura for a bit but at that price I might as well go for the Jetta, so stepped back.

The XUV remained an option and while for highways its more than excellent I felt its too big and a handful for city drives.

Booking
I booked the Duster on June 30, just 4 days before the launch. Because of a model change (original booking was RXL 110 - on launch it didn't have airbags so shifted to RXZ) and 2 colour changes, and procrastination about cancellation post launch it took 4 months to deliver.

After 2 short test drives in a frenzied environment first week after launch decided to go ahead. The interiors were spartan for a 13 lakh vehicle. The dealership was also becoming increasingly unresponsive and I all but cancelled nearly 2 times.

Renault and Dealers
Trying their best but completely overwhelmed. There is a constant frenzy at dealerships and they are a harried lot. Renault systems are not in place to handle volumes and the end result is a poor customer experience. Many people have cancelled due to the long wait and prospects make themselves scarce after hearing the wait period. In the situation there are a lot of sharp practices at play, things like sunroofs are being added with navigation and other kit etc and being sold at a 'premium' to the 'impatient'. Dealer fitted sunroofs are an extremely reckless idea and any issue arising out of this will directly impact Renault's safety reputation, and not the dealership so Renault needs to get organized, and fast.

From my interactions with Renault I get the feeling they are really trying their best, and ramping up after being caught unawares. Most of the folks I have interacted with come across as professional, sincere, aware of the current situation with customers, committed to improving rapidly and willing to take responsibility. I think they will come up to speed in a couple of months.

Delivery
Dealership was closed on Sunday but my sales associate made himself available to deliver my car. Good chap. I only had that day free. Couldn't do pre-registration PDI, everything was done over email. Once I got the allocation everything went smoothly.

The VIN and engine no was shared around end september by Renault Chennai. I tried checking online but the Duster VIN gives an error on most VIN sites - something about the ninth check digit.

SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage001.jpg

Dealership tried to sell me the teflon coating, under body and engine coating. Luckily saw a teambhp thread on a 3M centre just opened in Viman Nagar which is my Pune home and got it done there; 1500 for Engine, 3500 for underbody, and 3500 for paint sealant. From reading the forums 3 was not strictly necessary but got mudlaps from the dealer -1300.

Initial Impressions

Initial impressions after 500km including Pune city, Mumbai city and 2 expressway runs.

SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage002.jpg

1. Clutch is hard and its incredibly difficult to drive with the 2500 rpm run-in restriction with too many gear changes required but this eases up after around 200km and it becomes easier to drive in bumper to bumper city traffic. The turbo lag has been surprisingly minimal. It was really bad in the first test drive car, on subsequent demo drives it's been minimal. Clearly something has changed and it is dramatic.

2. I drove from Pune to Mumbai in the morning. The AC was effective at 2 and even at 1. 3 is noisy. In Mumbai 2 is not too effective, sun film required but the cops are on an extended aggressive drive.

3. Because of the arches the car is wider than you think and it till take time to get used to in tight traffic. You have to account for about 2 inches on each side.

4. The car is sedate during run in, to make quick progress and get into gaps you will have to step down and press hard, really hard.

5. The height adjust has 3 settings, the highest puts your head inline with the top of the windscreen, the lowest is about right for me.

6. After around 550km the mileage has gone from 15.9 to around 13.0 now with AC throughout.

7. The lights could be more powerful. You can adjust the throw but may need something brighter for highway runs.

8. The horn is adequate, could do with an improvement

9. The music system has all the features you would need and is relatively easy to use, the sound is strictly average, a 4/10. Speaker change may be required for enthusiasts, others will likely be able to make do.

10. If you leave the lights on and open the door an alarm starts buzzing.

11. At malls with the central locking button on open tell the security guards to press the key insert button on the boot, I have had to get off occasionally as they seems to have issues opening the boot.

12. They tyres were around 40PSi, got them done to 30. Make sure you do this on delivery.

13. The Bluetooth with the iPhone 4 works well.

14. Metallic rattling on front driver door from delivery time especially on uneven roads, got it sorted by the service folks next day. Apparently lots of dusters are reporting rattling sounds so they know what to fix. The main service guy was well educated and well trained, there is also someone from Renault at hand.

15. The rear parking assist works pretty well and is accurate

SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage003.jpg

Driving Impressions
1. After around 550km its easy to drive on highways and city traffic. The gearbox and steering is precise, clutch is still a bit hard but you will get used to it. Brakes are spot on, and extremely effective.

2. Ride quality is phenomenal, I had taken 5 test drives of the car, and untill you drive it for extended periods you will not realize just how good it is. It soaks up bumps, road undulations, and craters with zero fuss. It rides completely flat and I can't think of a more perfect car for our road conditions.

3. Handling - I pushed it on the ghats to get a feel for the handling. You need to drive it more expertly than a sedan, the long curves were not an issue at speeds of about 110. The smaller curves required extremely good lines to maintain poise at speeds but if you get this right it will hold. The near 90 degree bends will require slowing down, but this will apply to most cars. I am going to go into some detail on this.

4. On flat curves it drives flat right through the curve at 110, there is no suspension play or bounciness which is a great experience from a car which has a high centre of gravity. It really is wonderful because you don’t expect it.

5. On downhill curves its flat but because you are carrying momentum you need to have power to wheels and take the right line. Without this you are going to have to correct more aggressively and this may unsettle the car.

6. On uphill curves again line is important, the great thing is it follows steering input to the tee, and it sticks to line. At around 80-110 you are nowhere near the limits of losing control, its always safe and sure footed on long bends and its a lot of fun to drive. Renault have done an excellent job on this.

7. You are also going to get some push back from the steering and this is something GTO mentioned in his review. Before driving at a healthy pace I would recommend a progressive driving style to understand the car better. The push back can unnerve if you are not ready for it. A lot of folks are going to unhappy with the handling on ghats and curves if they are not aware of this, the push back will most likely prevent them from pushing further.

8. Did not go over 110 so did not hear any unusual wind noise, system was off and it was relatively quiet, maybe it will come on after 120. Could talk to other passengers normally, the engine can be heard when pushed, it does clatter for about 5 min after first start. I did not find noise an issue overall.

9. Pick up is excellent. After running in the car will be pretty fast. 100 comes quite quickly and effortless at 2000-2100 RPM in 6th gear.

SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage005.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage006.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage007.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage008.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage009.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage011.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage014.jpg
SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ-timage012.jpg

Likes
1. Unpretentious
2. Great Ride, sorted suspension
3. Engine promises to be responsive
4. Mileage should be good
5. Most features required are present, just not presented in a luxurious way
6. Factory fitted bluetooth and microphone on the India model is pretty clear


Dislikes
1. Spartan interiors, poor plastics
2. No ESP
3. Rear AC unit
4. Price could be 50-75K lower
5. Prefer white to orange for the info systems
6. Speakers could have been better, at least the front 2.
7. Long wait, dealer responsiveness
8. My always excitable lab for some reason can't help jumping on the car on sight

Cost
I picked it up for 12.89 OTR Pune, paid 32k for zero-dep from AIG, showroom was around 11.11 plus registration to around 12.52.

Overall I am happier with the car than I thought. Seems to be a car which will go long distances without stress. It feels like a car that will try its best not to let you down.

Way too many folks staring at the car, and many even stopping to ask, knocking on windows etc. Interest levels are very high.

I have not had the opportunity to take good pics as you can see, will shoot and upload better pics in a few days. Please feel free to ask me anything, I will test it and report back.

Last edited by raul : 22nd October 2012 at 23:53.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 08:39   #2
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Default Re: SilverDust - Duster 110 RXZ

raul,
Congrats on a fabulous purchase!!.
Wish you many more smiles and smiles with the car.
Hope you will have a rattle free time. Good that Renault is sending their personnel to Service centers to be on call. That is very impressive indeed.
Any thoughts on changing the shoes?
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Old 23rd October 2012, 10:27   #3
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Thumbs up Re: SilverDust - Duster 110 RXZ

Fantastic ! First Duster from PUNE Team BHP ? Congrautlations !!

What was your previous car in INDIA ? 32K for Zero Dep policy seems to be a good deal.

I too was very excited when the Duster was launched, but the interiors were disappointing. They look like a downgrade from my SWIFT interiors.

I hope I will get over this small dislike and join the bandwagon soon.

I will be closely watching your ownership thread, I request you to keep this as detailed as possible, so that I can slowly drift towards the duster.

Thank you for sharing the report with us. !!

Last edited by F150 : 23rd October 2012 at 10:28.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 10:53   #4
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Congrats on your ownership.
Though your list of dislikes outweigh the likes in terms of numbers it is not a deal breaker!
Hope the dealership is geared up to take forward the response they have got from the Duster.

Drive safe,

Cheers!
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Old 23rd October 2012, 11:05   #5
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Nicely documented review there. Nice set of pictures as well.

It is raining Dusters in Bangalore. The Palace Orchid Renault dealer did a good 35 Duster deliveries the last friday.

Enjoy many more happy miles with the Duster.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 11:15   #6
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Fantastic review Raul & yes congratulations on getting your Duster. I had initially thought that you had cancelled your booking & looking for some other car. Then what made you stick to the Duster?

As others have mentioned, I too would be hooked to this thread. So please keep it updated. Also do post a lot of good quality pictures. By any chance Renault is going to open any more dealerships other than the one at Shivajinagar, especially in PCMC area?.

For the moment, enjoy your ride & wishing you many happy (s)miles with your Duster.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 13:21   #7
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Thanks guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pradyblr View Post
raul,
Any thoughts on changing the shoes?
Thanks, not planning to upgrade the tyres, the Wanderers are relatively quiet and have grip, since the ride quality is so good do not want to mess with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by F150 View Post
Fantastic ! First Duster from PUNE Team BHP ? Congrautlations !!

What was your previous car in INDIA ? 32K for Zero Dep policy seems to be a good deal
Thanks, I am actually based in Mumbai for sometime now - yes my profile needs to be updated, but folks are in Pune and I am there twice a month.

I had an OHC in Mumbai, which got sold in June. The Duster is cheaper in Pune by 20k and my parents have always been there when I bought a new car so it was more convenient.

It was a 2003 model and was 7 years old requiring significant maintenance to the tune of 60-70k per year for the last 2 years (only repaired at Shanbhag) from suspension, brakes, ac, clutch, battery, radiator, steering, drive shaft, power windows, ac again. Its a beautiful car but a 7 year old require changes)

BTW Reliance zero dep for the RXZ is 30k, went for AIG because the poor chap followed up weekly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoIndian View Post
I had initially thought that you had cancelled your booking & looking for some other car. Then what made you stick to the Duster?

By any chance Renault is going to open any more dealerships other than the one at Shivajinagar, especially in PCMC area?.
Yes, the interiors and lack of esp were a downer. I evaluated the Yeti seriously, and Laura and then Jetta. I would have gone for Yeti but like I mentioned the looks were not working for me, the Jetta was considered but wasn't sure about spending 18 lakhs on a car now, so that left the Duster in the reckoning.

I understand a new dealership will be opening in PCMC area shortly, maybe a month.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 16:22   #8
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Congrats on the Duster, Raul! It's quite a competent package and few SUVs can match its outright performance, ride quality and road manners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raul View Post
The turbo lag has been surprisingly minimal. It was really bad in the first test drive car, on subsequent demo drives it's been minimal. Clearly something has changed and it is dramatic.
This is not the first time I've heard this. Has Renault tweaked its engine map? Look forward to driving a more recently built Duster than the one I tested.

Quote:
Ride quality is phenomenal, I had taken 5 test drives of the car, and untill you drive it for extended periods you will not realize just how good it is. It soaks up bumps, road undulations, and craters with zero fuss. It rides completely flat and I can't think of a more perfect car for our road conditions.
Undoubtedly. I can think of only a handful of cars costing <50 lakh that ride like the Duster.

Quote:
4. On flat curves it drives flat right through the curve at 110, there is no suspension play or bounciness which is a great experience from a car which has a high centre of gravity. It really is wonderful because you donít expect it.
Try the same in a Scorpio or Safari and you'll be lying upside down. The handling & high speed poise make the Duster a far safer highway vehicle than the homegrown SUVs.

Quote:
You are also going to get some push back from the steering and this is something GTO mentioned in his review. Before driving at a healthy pace I would recommend a progressive driving style to understand the car better. The push back can unnerve if you are not ready for it. A lot of folks are going to unhappy with the handling on ghats and curves if they are not aware of this, the push back will most likely prevent them from pushing further.
You explained it better than I could manage to! Thank you.

Quote:
Price could be 50-75K lower


The price (further hiked recently) and dealer experience are working against the Duster right now. But well, it's the only compact SUV at 10 lakh. Renault will probably address both of these concerns once there is more competition

Thanks for sharing this review with us, Raul. Hope to see service & maintenance updates as the odometer climbs up. Drive safe.

Last edited by GTO : 23rd October 2012 at 16:23.
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Old 23rd October 2012, 16:30   #9
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Congratulations, may this one serve you as good as the Rav4.

As you did compare this to the XUV and you found it big, does that mean XUV in terms of interior space (luggage and middle row) has more of it than Duster.

How would you compare the driving characteristics?
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Old 24th October 2012, 10:19   #10
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Lovely writeup Raul. The white looks so cool.
As you have mentioned, the AC is sometimes inadequate at speed 2.
But now with a sun film fixed (try the 70% visibility, cops won't know) I feel comfortable at speed 2.

The push back from the steering is a surprise but it indirectly helps you.
It comes into effect when one negotiates a sharp turn at higher speeds, slow down
and the steering will take the direction one wishes to give.

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 24th October 2012, 14:03   #11
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by raul View Post
The turbo lag has been surprisingly minimal. It was really bad in the first test drive car, on subsequent demo drives it's been minimal. Clearly something has changed and it is dramatic.
I remember GTO mentioning in his review that the 85PS version had a lesser turbo lag than the 110 PS. So, now this is no longer the case? How do the turbo lags of the 2 versions compare now - any idea?
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Old 25th October 2012, 01:10   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

This is not the first time I've heard this. Has Renault tweaked its engine map? Look forward to driving a more recently built Duster than the one I tested.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vasanthn21 View Post
I remember GTO mentioning in his review that the 85PS version had a lesser turbo lag than the 110 PS. So, now this is no longer the case? How do the turbo lags of the 2 versions compare now - any idea?
I think they have. First gear pulls nicely, there is just the slightest of hesitation in second gear, very very slight - minus 1 sec, and it pulls. In the first test drive car, press the accelerator in second gear and there would be no response for at least 3-4 sec before power came on.

It looks like there may have been a tweak or the first set of demo cars were setup differently. The engine has a sticker that says E2, that's also the infamous laggy Fluence engine, which my engine is not so difficult to say what's happening. Perhaps someone at Renault can tell us.

There are too many variations of the 1.5 dCi, some have start-stop, DPF, ESP support etc. I 'heard' the Renault folks are testing start-stop for the Duster.

Regarding the 85 a back to back test is in order so I suggest Duster buyers do this. When I tested it there was zero hesitation and zero lag, it just pulled. So there is a difference and I think 85 will be easier to drive in the city.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Undoubtedly. I can think of only a handful of cars costing <50 lakh that ride like the Duster.
Yes, this is the Dusters USP; handling and ride is is superb but I think it will take at least a day with the car under varied conditions to get a real appreciation of this.

It would be insightful to have a thread on car suspensions and why Renault especially gets it right and other like Hyundai struggle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

The price (further hiked recently) and dealer experience are working against the Duster right now. But well, it's the only compact SUV at 10 lakh. Renault will probably address both of these concerns once there is more competition
Yes, the pricing is now considerably off - even the launch price was more than most other countries, the 110 post hike price is near 14 plus lakhs OTR in Mumbai and given the interiors wouldn't be out of place in a 5 lakh hatch I think this is imbalanced.

The AC vents for instance are outrageously cheap and I have little doubt they are going to break. In Mumbai all external odours seep in. Cost cutting is evident in a lot of places, a lot of things are adequate, others like the AC vents basic. So Renault should up the quality of interior parts or price it sensibly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
As you did compare this to the XUV and you found it big, does that mean XUV in terms of interior space (luggage and middle row) has more of it than Duster.

How would you compare the driving characteristics?
Mayank - the XUV has tons of space inside, the rear seat legroom is humungous compared to the Duster, the XUV is a bigger car, its more airy, and feels more solid and better built. Duster has decent rear leg room and excellent boot space.

Driving - the XUV feels heavy and drives heavy, you feel the size of the car, you don't feel the size of the Duster, its easy to drive, effortless. That's why for predominant city use XUV is not the best idea IMHO. This would apply to Fortuner and other large cars too.

But on the highway the XUV is planted and even 150 feels safe, wind noise is controlled and its delivers a very stable and refined experience.

XUV also has ESP on the W8 and other things like all round disk brakes and independent rear suspension which the Duster does not. At launch the value for XUV was good, now its expensive IMHO.

Duster is lighter and I think at 150 apart from the reported wind noise its not going to be as planted as the XUV due to the weight factor. There is going to be a lot of wind flowing under these cars, weight will play a role at high speed. Folks like Satya (Ownership report here) have driven XUV even faster and report its planted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by himadrimondal View Post
As you have mentioned, the AC is sometimes inadequate at speed 2.
But now with a sun film fixed (try the 70% visibility, cops won't know) I feel comfortable at speed 2.

The push back from the steering is a surprise but it indirectly helps you.
It comes into effect when one negotiates a sharp turn at higher speeds, slow down and the steering will take the direction one wishes to give.
Thanks! In our summers, and it's nearly summer all year round I think 2 is going to be inadequate. The 3M guy was wooing me with all sorts of freebies to install the film, but I don't want to spend 6-7k and have the cops who are out in full force in Mumbai over the last week rip it off.

GTO has grappled with the steering push back, you just need to give it firmer inputs. I didn't feel it was losing control or anything.

To clarify I do not drive fast, most of time I am ambling along at 100-120. Its just for testing and to get familiar so I am aware of its capabilities and limits.

Last edited by raul : 25th October 2012 at 01:26.
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Old 25th October 2012, 01:23   #13
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Default Re: SilverDust - Renault Duster 110 RXZ

Congratulations on your new Duster 110 Raul. Good to see that you've opted for a no-nonsense colour. It suits the car really well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raul View Post
7. You are also going to get some push back from the steering and this is something GTO mentioned in his review. Before driving at a healthy pace I would recommend a progressive driving style to understand the car better. The push back can unnerve if you are not ready for it. A lot of folks are going to unhappy with the handling on ghats and curves if they are not aware of this, the push back will most likely prevent them from pushing further.
I haven't driven the Duster long / fast enough to experience this. Although you have explained it well, I'd like to know what you mean by 'push-back'? Do you mean that there is violent return-to-center feel or just kick-back? Does this happen when you drive over undulations too?
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Old 25th October 2012, 01:53   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
Congratulations on your new Duster 110 Raul. Good to see that you've opted for a no-nonsense colour. It suits the car really well.



I haven't driven the Duster long / fast enough to experience this. Although you have explained it well, I'd like to know what you mean by 'push-back'? Do you mean that there is violent return-to-center feel or just kick-back? Does this happen when you drive over undulations too?
Thanks Suhaas! Yes ultimately reverted to silver

It's a bit strange really and my experience is when the car was only 50km with a very hard clutch. More testing and other experiences required.

On long curves the steering progressively tightens, this is ok. On mid level curves, when you are a bit fast and have already decided your line, at the moment of maximum input, the steering will resist more stronger than expected (not a revert to centre action) so you have to be firmer, and its relatively ok.

The really fun part is when you have misjudged your line and now need to take maximum corrective action and the steering is literally fighting with you and you can now feel the driver side tyre along with the steering wheel resistance. I don't know whether this explains it, its not dramatic, just unexpected.

Because I had read GTO's review I was not taken by surprise but those who have not are going to be a bit unnerved. We need a suspension and steering expert to step in here.
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Old 25th October 2012, 02:16   #15
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Quote:
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On long curves the steering progressively tightens, this is ok. On mid level curves, when you are a bit fast and have already decided your line, at the moment of maximum input, the steering will resist more stronger than expected (not a revert to centre action) so you have to be firmer, and its relatively ok.

The really fun part is when you have misjudged your line and now need to take maximum corrective action and the steering is literally fighting with you and you can now feel the driver side tyre along with the steering wheel resistance. I don't know whether this explains it, its not dramatic, just unexpected.
This tugging / resistance you feel while dialing steering-input is indeed aggressive center-back action / forceful return-to-center.

Kick-back or push-back is usually associated with talkative steering-wheels that provide feedback. It isn't violent or that noticeable in most cars unless you drive a rally-car, is what I was told. I'm not sure what kick-back really is but I don't think the Duster's steering-wheel kicks-back. It just hates being turned at speed and wants to return to center by giving you this obvious tugging sensation.

I've also found this in the i20 and honestly, it came as quite a shock to me because the steering is otherwise light. The heaviness in the Duster's steering on the other hand probably helps in allowing you to make minute corrections without the car feeling twitchy.

By the way, are you considering any modifications. I see you're pretty pleased with the power on tap so a digital tuning box may seem redundant. Are you upgrading the ICE? What about other accessories like the wheel-arch cladding and the bumper-guard with the front fog-lamp-integrated into it?

I've been advocating these accessories because I love how it ties it all together and completes the look.
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Paid for Duster 110. GenNext Motors gave us a Duster 85 instead. EDIT : Solved (Pg 2) mohandasnikhil Indian Car Dealerships 74 7th November 2012 23:59


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