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Old 19th January 2017, 12:46   #1
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Default The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Introduction
My Duster 110 RXZ AMT (Woodland Brown) is now one week old and has done 1200Kms. There aren't any Duster AMT ownership logs on Teambhp and thus this thread is a dedication to all you folks who want to know more about the AMT Duster.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170125-2.36.21-pm.jpeg
While I was considering buying this vehicle, there was a dearth of ownership reviews. The general opinion of many seemed to be based on the initial driving experience and often compared to their experience with a DSG or CVT. To get the real picture, I got in touch with one of the earliest deliveries of Duster AMT for feedback. They were all very happy with the AMT.
So I figured I should try and make it easy for the others and maintain a log of my trips with the duster for the AMT enthusiasts out there.


Requirements:
Kochi is a city blessed with plenty of weekend driving destinations. A 3-4 hour driving radius gives you numerous hill stations, beaches, backwaters, national parks, forests etc. To enjoy this completely, you need to have a vehicle that has good GC, riding comfort and driving pleasure.
And thus arose the need for an automatic to move around the city that doubles up as a go anywhere SUV on weekends. Go anywhere was more to do with high GC than sand or slush; so an AWD wasn’t priority. 60% of the runs were within the city and an automatic was the need of the hour.

Other vehicles considered:

Mahindra XUV500 W6 AT
Being acquainted with Mr Suresh Joseph (The Record drive and Travels of a Railwayman fame) gave me confidence in the capability of the XUV500 Automatic. He had driven Kochi to St Petersburg in an XUV500 AT all by himself. Having drooled over his blog for long, there was a time when we decided that this was our next car.
It is value for money at 16.5 lakhs OTR Kochi. Many XUV owners recommended the XUV strongly. But a few bits that put me off were the ride quality, the quality of the interiors (which I sometimes personally feel pretentious luxury) and the vibration when you keep the car idle using the brake in D mode. But nevertheless, this was one car I was mentally pitting against the duster. It makes sense if you want a 7 seater.

Creta AT
The Creta to me is another genre. It felt more like an urban vehicle meant to br driven around cities with a more luxurious feel. I liked the whole fit and finish of the vehicle. But at 16.5 Lakhs OTR for a car that has no ESP or even ACC it felt very overpriced. The AT box was smooth and comfortable I didn't want to shell out more for a car without ESP.

Toyota Innova AT
There was nothing much to dislike about the Innova; but for its price. For 26.5 Lakhs OTR, I could buy a Duster and a Jazz! Forget ESP, the mid variant did not even have seat height adjustment for 18 Lakhs OTR! Unless 7 seater is a requirement, it made no sense.

Tata Hexa AT
This was the car I waited for. We went for a test drive the day it started in Kochi. Loved the vehicle in every aspect. Subject to maintenance and niggles (which I believe Tata mustve solved for now) I would have preferred this over the Innova if I was in the market for a 7 seater. However, apart from the lack of ESP, it was the average FE (7.8 kmpl!) shown on the meter that made me reconsider stretching the budget.

Duster AMT Test drive experiences
I booked for a test drive right after launch. They brought the vehicle home and took it for a spin on a nearby highway. I expected the worst before my first test drive, but was pleasantly surprised to see that it was very different from the Celerio(The only AMT I've driven before). You wont like it initially if you are coming from a DSG, but I drive DSG vehicles often and I found the AMT manageable even in first go.
Till you get the feel of it, you will feel a lull during gear shifts 2, 3 and 4.You feel that the vehicle silently changed a gear when you didn't expect it to; between your throttle input, giving you a small lull. The passengers rarely notice this as it feels like a smooth MT gear change for them or even lesser. But I felt that this could be overcome if I got the hang of it.
Later, I tried the manual of the AMT and found them very helpful on inclines and overtaking or when you need more punchy driving.
I made a note in my mind that this was an AT option that deserved to be taken seriously.

With the Hexa launch in vicinity, we decided to wait for it while still thinking between XUV and the Creta AT. Post Hexa, we took more test drives back to back between these different AT options before confirming on the AMT.
The first time someone drives an AMT, he may not like it. I’d recommend you take longer test drives and talk to people who own the duster AMT to see how they find it in the long run.

And why we bought the Duster AMT

Value:
The Duster AMT cost me 13.75 OTR excluding insurance. For the price, I get everything from ESP, navigation to cruise control. Thus feature wise, I wasn’t missing out on anything from the Creta AT or XUV AT. Though the refreshed interiors are a hit or miss, I find them to be no nonsense (KAAM CHALU MOOH BANDH!) and functional. May not the best in it's price range, but served the purpose decently. The AMT did it's job well and I didn't feel like shelling out 2.5 Lakhs more for a lesser equipped car just for a torque converter AT.

Ride and Handling
I am not elaborating on the ride and handling of the duster on which there are plenty of materials on the internet to read about. The car feels planted and inspired confidence at high speeds.

Feedback
All the AMT duster owners I’ve spoken to were very happy with the AMT. They all assured that the 'jerk' and 'lull' was something you will learn to avoid in a few hours of driving.

The looks
The duster feels more rugged looking and macho than most of it's competitors. It is this rugged look that makes the frugal interiors feel acceptable.

Fuel efficiency
One of the biggest perks of AMT is the FE. My friend who has been using the AMT in Kochi city traffic has been consistently getting an average of 16Kmpl in the city. The economics of driving a hexa/XUV and a duster AMT can be very significant.

Verdict
I wanted a vehicle:
1)To drive in the city and
2)Take out for that weekend drive to a farmhouse/hill station.
3)For that once in a lifetime Ladakh drive
Yet, enjoy all the comforts and practicality of an automatic, without compromising too much on fuel efficiency.

With the current discounts and pricing, Renault Duster AMT seemed like a very sensible proposition to me. Hence the choice.


Cons:
  • The center console of the dash has an annoying glare when sunny. Perhaps to do with the piano black finish.
  • The central locking system does not give each door independent locks. It's either Lock all or all open. This is a very dangerous thing! I tried to see if there was some auto lock mechanism at high speeds. If you pull the lever, the door opens even at 100kmph. So if you have children, make sure that child lock is on.
  • The brakes aren't awe inspiring.
What I wish it had
  • An AWD Auto would have been perfect.
  • The optional variant for more airbags.
  • Auto dimming IRVM.
  • Projector headlamps.
  • If only the headlight control stick was on the right side.

Buying experience
As mentioned above, I have driven the Duster AMT, Creta, Hexa all when they were launched. However, the purchase decision was rather impulsive.
A close friend had purchased the duster AMT in December and tempted us to jump in. So, while returning home after a Hexa test drive, we decided to drop by Renault to see if they have any offers running. They 2016 manufactured showroom vehicle could be purchased for 2016 price with discounts amounting to a Lakh Rupees. It also turned out that this was the only unbooked AMT car pan Kerala. (I sometimes feel that Kerala is generally more open towards thinking outside the conventional brands and models.) The deal sounded sensible, and we booked the car.
Later, we did more test drives to feel that our impulsive decision was not a stupid one. Took it to a few steep inclines near infopark, tried out it's cruise control and drove it around for about an hour before we committed.

The Renault Kochi dealership is owned by TVS. They have been professional so far. I am yet to experience the service, but the buying experience has been great. We wanted a longer test drive despite having done a few test drives and they consented to take it some distance to test a few inclines.

The Price
The discounts on the duster are what made it very value for money. The full option duster comes 13.75 Lakhs OTR excluding insurance to be further reduced by the 10K TCS. I dont think there is any other vehicle for this price that has an automatic, ESP, Traction etc. The nearest competition is at least 2.5 Lakhs away.

Extended warranties & service packages
Opted for the 4 years warranty. No special service package was on offer.

Accessories
The new duster comes with everything from reverse cam, to navigation. And hence have no plans for accessories apart from a 3d Mat(from flipkart).
I tend to think the other way round when it comes to seat covers. Get one when the original seat fabric begins to get soiled.
Not a chrome fan, so stayed away from the chrome package.
The music system is acceptable, but I find that the sound from the Left side, back row speaker to be distorted. Need to get that looked into at the first service. A ritz diesel I plan to put up for sale has a JBL woofer mated to an aftermarket JVC stereo. the Renault folks suggested that I could perhaps use it on my duster, but that would take up too much of boot space.
I am however considering a cycle rack, to carry cycles along on my trips. I've seen one in Decathlon.


More observations after delivery

Safety & related equipment
The AMT version has 2 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, ESP, and traction control. The Creta AT and Hexa AT do not have ESP. ESP was a priority for me because it can be very helpful at some critical moments.
The traction control and ESP cannot be turned off. The Traction indicator lights up when you drive on lose gravel or poor roads.

Overall build quality, fit & finish, paint quality and panel gaps
The Metal quality is average. The Creta feels more European in its metal build, but the vehicle feels rugged. (Especially if you've seen videos of what the Russians do with their dusters.)

Wheels & tyres
I've just driven 1200 Kms and the MRF wanderers have been fine so far.

Interior design & quality
The interiors have been spruced a little bit with a decent AVN and new colour theme. But still uses hard plastics and could be a little scratchy in the long run. It's primitive compared to the creta, but if you look at it as your weekend vehicle with functionality, it fits your needs. A fancy looking dash isn't everyone's priority especially if the nearest competition with a decent dashboard was 2.5 Lakhs away.

Driving position, ergonomics, controls & MID
The Driving position is one of the highlights of the Duster. It is one of those few vehicles these days you can see the hood from your seat. I personally like this commanding view from up there.
The ergonomics are a mixed basket. The AVN unit's location makes it a bit difficult to follow while driving. And the Piano black finish has a glare on the windscreen sometimes.
But contrary to many, I find the location of the controls for the AVN to be even more comfortable than the usual steering mounted controls. Use it for a day and you know what to press/pull without having to look at it.

Interior space & comfort.
Not the most spacious of the lot (especially if you are a tall person). The seating is comfortable but legroom is subjective.

Air conditioner cooling & effectiveness
Comes with Automatic Climate Control AC, but I have an issue with the AC. The AC works perfectly fine in auto as long as the temperature is at or below 24 degree. Once you change the temperature on auto mode to 25, there are occasional spurts of heated air. I have mentioned this to my service center and will be getting this thoroughly looked into during the first service.
Another drawback is the lack of half degree adjustments. I usually keep the AC on 24.5 in my other car, but in renault, you have to chose 24 or 25. Not a deal breaker, but this niggle at 25 degrees is a bit annoying.

Audio system & sound quality
I have one faulty speaker which will be replaced on warranty during the first service. Apart from that, the AVN is decent and the music quality is sufficient. Way better than the XUV's system IMO.

Interior storage, practicality & boot space
Thought the boot is spacious and practical, there is a dearth of usable cubbyholes in the interiors. Since there is no central storage unit above the hand brakes, a lot of things like tissue boxes and miscellaneous have to go to the cubbyholes on the doors.

Overall NVH levels
I did read about some people mention that the duster has high NVH levels. The engine is on the louder side, but I find the NVH inside the car to be very controlled. Noise from the outside, particularly buses and autos seems to filter in more than what I'm used to.
I am yet to get a proper feedback of road noise at high speeds.

Fuel efficiency: City and Highway
The Fuel efficiency on the highway has been 18.1 Kmpl based on MID
the city FE fluctuates between 14-15KMPL in Kochi city traffic (which is better off than bangalore traffic any day, so expect 12-14 in bangalore)

Suspension & ride quality
The highlight of this vehicle is it's suspension. It flattens the road undulations and gutters. Being used to a low GC sedan, my reflexes are tuned to avoid the lunar craters and bad roads, but I'm just getting used to driving on top of them without flinching with the duster

Steering
The steering has some kickback in some gutters. When I mentioned this, the service manager said that they have given this feedback to Renault and there might be a fix soon.

Any niggles, problems or part replacements
The main niggles at the moment are
  • AVN speaker
  • ACC heating problem
  • And the steering kickback in gutters.
And the drives begin!!

The first drive : Getting a feel of the machine.
The day after delivery, I took the car for a short spin within the city and even tried the cruise control on the the relatively free container highway.
Having decided to follow the engine break in period instruction, it was super sedate driving. This felt like the car wasn't responding enough to throttle input and I was a bit worried if the AMT had compromised the drive-ability of the car.
After a while, I realized that a lot of attention was going to keeping the RPM below 2500 hence affecting upward shifts and drive-ability. So later, I turned on the Eco mode and tried driving without monitoring the RPM. And then I found out that I could floor the throttle in eco mode and RPM wont cross 2500, and the shifts happened exactly before 2500.
The duster was on its feat now, and I got the hang of how to get the thing moving. It no longer felt slow or awkward.

The second drive :
Having found out that the 2500 RPM limit was not an issue with ECO mode turned on, did a one day to and fro to Munnar. About 300 Kms up and down.
The duster was perfectly drive-able like any AT transmission over the hill roads despite being in ECO mode. The whole trip was done like I would with any MT car, well within 2500 RPM on the hair pins and inclines. The effectiveness of the AMT on inclines and hill stations had been one of my major concerns while buying the duster. I had my share of doubts on if I'd be able to overtake vehicles on inclines.
The Munnar trip was a confidence booster. Overtaking on inclines is not an issue in Auto mode even with the Eco mode on! You just floor the throttle and the car will lunge forward seamlessly. The duster has plenty of power to lunge forward in gears 3 and 4 and you will not feel the need to downshift manually.
I did not face any scary overtaking moments nor was I tempted to shift to Manual mode. I tried turning off the ECO at one point on an incline just to see how it feels, and there was a further rise in performance but the RPM was hitting 3000, so turned it off.

The Auto mode also has some inbuilt engine breaking I reckon, cos it followed the same gears uphill and downhill.

On further drives.
Did another 500Kms one day highway trip to a farm with some mild off tarmac driving through the estate. The drive was smooth, and had no over taking problems. The Eco mode was turned off and now there;s no going back. The Eco mode now feels slow on highways, and we are less concerned about the RPM. 100Kmp in 6th gear stays below 2500 RPM. A cousin who came along who was driving an AT for the first time loved the clutch less driving experience and is considering buying one. The duster is indeed a great highway cruiser. There's a 1000Km drive scheduled this week after which I will be dropping off the car for its first service. Will update the experiences after I get back.

Back to the city
Driving it around the city is now a pleasure; thanks to the AMT. I've gotten used to the shift patterns and it feels seamless now.

The little things I noted
  • The tyres were filled to 48 psi. Reduced them to 30.
  • All power window buttons are illuminated. Even the back row.
  • Pulling both volume up and volume down Controls behind the steering mutes or un-mutes the audio instantly. A handy feature
  • The music and phone control unit behind the steering actually feels very comfortable contrary to what I thought. I'm beginning to prefer it over steering mounted controls.

Summary
Like's
  • Ride and handling
  • Comfort of clutch-less driving thanks to AMT
  • Seating position
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Feature loaded
  • Value

Dislikes
  • Dated interior design
  • Dont expect the fit and finish of the Creta but that's a different price point anyway.
  • I am expecting a few niggles. Facing a few minor ones already.
Disclaimer
The AMT's performance has been evaluated on a rather sedate or relaxed driving. This doesn't mean slower speeds, but less of rash driving. The rash driving may be possible in the manual mode, but I haven't tried it.

Last edited by The Adventurer : 2nd February 2017 at 15:37.
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Old 30th January 2017, 15:17   #2
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Default re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Now for a few pictures,

The tail lamp is a stunner.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.35-pm.jpeg

The curved lines inside the headlights would have made stunning DRL's.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.32-pm.jpeg

The new alloys that come with the Duster
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.29-pm.jpeg

Notice the plastic/fiber cladding close to the wheel arches. Saw a duster that had fitted this all around the wheel arches. looked good!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.26-pm.jpeg

The new chunky key
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.38-pm.jpeg

The OVRM's fold inside if you turn the OVRM adjustment control dial. Not the best way to do it.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.47-pm.jpeg

The AMT gearbox. I do get the feeling if some valet parking driver might try to pull and slot it into first gear!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.58-pm.jpeg

Clutch free bliss!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.52-pm.jpeg

The climate control is a bit confusing. The AC button lights up when the AC is actually off!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.55.04-pm.jpeg

The Leather wrapped steering with cruise control buttons. Like the matte finish on the lower half.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.55.22-pm.jpeg

Practical AVN. I was told the maps are by Map My India, but turns out it isnt. I'm yet to figure out how to get live traffic data on it.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.55.27-pm.jpeg

The bluetooth mic. Very clear and serves the purpose.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170130-2.54.42-pm.jpeg

Last edited by The Adventurer : 1st February 2017 at 10:28.
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Old 31st January 2017, 14:47   #3
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Default re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

More pictures and some weird ergonomics.

The roof rail with Duster Branding
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.41.56-pm.jpeg

The armrest is very comfortable to use. If only the passenger seat had one!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.41.59-pm.jpeg

The space in front
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.44.14-pm.jpeg

The back seat
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.44.21-pm.jpeg

The weird position of the Eco mode button. You have to reach all the way down.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.42.07-pm.jpeg

Reverse camera integration is smooth. But you have to leave the AVN turned on.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.42.12-pm.jpeg

Another weird position for the headlamps direction control. Feels like the controls of a blender.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.21-pm.jpeg

The AVN steering control is very handy and good to use.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.30-pm.jpeg

Cruise control and speed limiter turn on/off button is located next to the AC!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.42-pm.jpeg

Duster branding on the dash.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.48-pm.jpeg

The decent boot. I put some vinyl to avoid soiling the carpet
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.08-pm.jpeg

Fog lamps. Yet to test how good they are.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.42.03-pm.jpeg

The odometer. The MID shows the mileage I am currently getting in the city. Traction control lights turned on above.
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.42.17-pm.jpeg

Parting shots!
The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.42.25-pm.jpeg

The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-whatsapp-image-20170131-12.43.02-pm.jpeg

Last edited by The Adventurer : 1st February 2017 at 10:18.
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Old 5th February 2017, 14:40   #4
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th February 2017, 15:58   #5
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Congratulations on the purchase! Wishing you countless miles with the beauty.

Also, a very detailed report. A good read for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Adventurer View Post
60% of the runs were within the city and an automatic was the need of the hour.
Totally understandable! Kochi is a beautiful city and I'm sure the weekends would be damn fun in God's own country. Beautiful beaches, backwaters, etc.. Also, I feel an automatic is a boon for enjoying these drives as it adds more comfort to the weekend.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Adventurer View Post
The AMT's performance has been evaluated on a rather sedate or relaxed driving. This doesn't mean slower speeds, but less of rash driving. The rash driving may be possible in the manual mode, but I haven't tried it.
Perfectly logical. Why should you even try rash driving?
IMO AMTs are meant to be enjoyed. Sedate driving conditions are the best for AMTs as the gearbox tends to react amazingly well in these conditions.

Lastly, good pictures and details to accompany the report.

Please keep on updating the thread with your experiences and travelogues as possible.
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Old 6th February 2017, 17:00   #6
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omkar View Post
Congratulations on the purchase! Wishing you countless miles with the beauty.


Perfectly logical. Why should you even try rash driving?
IMO AMTs are meant to be enjoyed. Sedate driving conditions are the best for AMTs as the gearbox tends to react amazingly well in these conditions.

Lastly, good pictures and details to accompany the report.

Please keep on updating the thread with your experiences and travelogues as possible.
Thank you!

I did a 1200 Kms drive over the weekend across all kinds of roads comprising of 4 laned highway stretches, A hill station, crowded 2 lane NH, village roads, and dirt roads with absolutely no issues.

The AMT was a pleasure to drive and the convenience of an automatic over long distances was more than I had expected.

To add to that, the fully loaded duster with 5 people and a boot full of luggage across all these terrains returned a 15.9 Kmpl before it's first service. Very happy on that front too.

I've crossed 2500 kms in 2 weeks now. Have booked for the first service.
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Old 10th February 2017, 12:08   #7
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Picked up the Duster after it's first service.

The issues/niggles that we raised with Renault and their current status
  1. One rear speaker has very distorted bass : The problem was acknowledged and Renault has approved a replacement, but my dealer is out of stock. I will be informed when the unit arrives and can be swapped in 10 minutes.
  2. Hot air from AC when you change temperature : This problem was faced both our friend and us. (Both first service on same day). The service center says that they found some block in the blower and they have resolved it. I am yet to see if it has been fully resolved.
  3. Steering jerk in gutters : This is the issue we've raised seriously with the center. Went for a test drive with their TD vehicle and to find that the TD vehicle jerk was not as prominent as ours. Both our vehicles (friend and I) are feeling this jerk. The center is unable to answer why.

Is anyone else facing the same problem? Why does this steering jerk happen? Both our vehicles were August manufactured and must have been in the yard for a few months. Could this have some connection?

The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread-untitled.png
Chaddi Buddies!. Purchased a week apart, registered on the same day, first service on the same day. Same niggles too!

Last edited by The Adventurer : 10th February 2017 at 12:20.
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Old 23rd July 2017, 19:19   #8
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Following! Very well written with lot of details. I am also seriously looking for it. Any idea on Terrano AMT?
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Old 23rd July 2017, 22:45   #9
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Default Re: The Adventurer - Renault Duster AMT ownership thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Adventurer
Hot air from AC when you change temperature
This is something I am noticing with my Aspire TDCi also.

Usually I keep hovering between 20-23c. I am not sure if its a feature or its a problem , but when I turn the dial to increase the temp, immediately I can notice hot air from the vents.

This is very annoying since ideally I would like the compressor to turn off, not the heater to come on and heat up the cabin from 20 to say 22 immediately.
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