Renault Duster 1.3L Turbo Petrol Review
The Renault Duster 1.3L Turbo-Petrol
is on sale in India at a price of between Rs. 10.49 - 13.59 lakhs.
Renault Duster Turbo Pros:
• A Duster on steroids! 154 BHP motor has transformed its personality
• Very fast & loads of fun on the open road. Punchy mid-range will leave you grinning
• Turbo-petrol's refinement levels are terrific, including at high rpm
• Smooth CVT automatic available. It's quick too
• Mature ride quality & sorted dynamics
• The Duster is still a good-looking crossover. Exterior styling has aged well
• Robust, abuse-friendly build & construction
• Practical boot (475 - 1064 liters of cargo capacity)
• Fair pricing for a 154 BHP crossover. Lakhs cheaper than the Creta / Seltos 1.4 Turbos
• ESP is a crucial safety feature in a fast car, while Hill Hold is very useful with a laggy engine
• 205 mm of ground clearance. Dismisses broken roads with aplomb
Renault Duster Turbo Cons:
• 1.3L turbo-petrol suffers lag at low revs. It's very easy to stall too
• Duster's terribly old & outdated interiors are the biggest deal-breaker
• Feature list is basic by current times (no sunroof or keyless entry & go, just 2 airbags...
• Ride quality is good, but retuned suspension & 17" rims have taken the "magic" away
• Price premium of ~2 lakhs for the turbo-petrol & 1.6 lakhs for the CVT is way too high
• Red highlights all over the car look extremely garish; we'd get them removed
• The next-gen Duster is already on sale globally, but Renault won't bring it here
• Workhorse 1.5L diesel & competent AWD are gone!!!
• Mediocre rear seat legroom. More like C1 segment sedans than C2
• Road & wind noise are prominent at high speed
• Renault's after-sales service quality is inconsistent
Renault Duster Full Review
Because the Renault Duster has been fully reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on the 1.3L turbo-petrol variant. Full Review The AWD The '16 Facelift
• For this punchy & powerful engine, you have the Government of India to thank! It is because of BS6 norms that we are seeing amazing new turbo-petrols like the Polo-Rapid 1.0L TSI and Hyundai-Kia's 1.4L GDI. All of these turbo-petrols are also well-priced for the kind of performance they offer.
• The new 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol is sold alongside the old & unimpressive 1.5L naturally-aspirated motor. This 1.3 TCe engine was jointly developed by Renault and Daimler, and is used in a variety of Renault, Nissan & Mercedes cars.
• Duster 1.3L Turbo costs Rs. ~2.0 lakh more than the N/A 1.5L petrol. We find this price difference to be excessive. For a direct-injection turbo, the premium should be ~1 lakh tops. Then, the CVT variants cost an additional Rs. 1.6 lakh more
which is shocking (CVT ATs are usually a 1-lakh rupee option).
• This is a modern new engine whose long-term reliability is unknown. Please do take that extended warranty, without fail. The Duster hasn't exactly proven to be the last word in reliability either.
Renault Duster 1.3L Turbo Petrol Review in the City
• Sit inside the Duster and the cabin sure feels old & outdated. It felt old a decade back when the Duster was launched and today, it feels like a 15-year old design from the mid-2000s. From the design to the instrument cluster, this cabin is a throwback to a different era. More than the exterior, it is the interior that will be the biggest deal-breaker in the showroom. You'll want the engine, but your family will be repelled by the interiors.
• Startup and shutdown are smooth. There is a conventional key that you have to insert into the ignition console. No engine start / stop button which even the cheaper Triber gets. Although, after driving the Thar & Duster back to back, I've come to realise that I actually prefer this kind of a conventional key. Reason = you always know where the key is (smartkeys roam around pockets, bags & cubby holes) and I prefer the conventional starting action.
• The clutch pedal has some weight. It's neither too light nor too heavy; the pedal requires a medium-level of effort. Won't bother you when you are normally driving in the city or on the highway. However, the clutch pedal will definitely annoy you in crawling bumper-to-bumper traffic.
• The accelerator pedal has a longer travel range than what one normally sees!
• The shifter has well-defined slots and is placed quite close to the driver, making it a friendly gear shifter to use. Has its slots closely stacked, but isn't as light as in the Hyundai's. It requires a little more effort than I'd like.
• The turbo-petrol has lag at the bottom end and it is extremely easy
to stall the car. Sure takes some getting used to. I guarantee you that in your first couple of kilometres with the Duster, you will stall it a few times before you get the hang of it. Being a small 1.3L turbo petrol with a whopping 154 horses on tap, lag was a given. No, the Duster 1.3 doesn't clear the 2nd gear speed breaker test either. Renault is aware of this lag; hence, their engineers have kept the 1st & 2nd ratios on the shorter side to reduce the feeling of lag as much as possible. I must add that, on day 2 of driving, the turbo-lag didn't bother me as much as it did on the first day with the car. It was less irritating as I learnt how to drive around it. Still, there is no doubt that you'll be frequently working the gear-shifter in urban traffic.
• The Duster Turbo comes with an idling start / stop function. This is the weirdest auto start / stop I've ever seen, but also the most user-friendly. Why so? In a nutshell, if you stall the Duster (and this feature is enabled), you don't need to restart the engine with the key. Just press the clutch pedal all the way in and the motor fires up again
. Since it is so easy to stall this car, you will appreciate this automatic-restarting, because it reduces the inconvenience caused by the stall-happy engine. Maybe Renault engineers intentionally designed it this way? Me thinks it's a feature, not a bug!
• Additionally, the operation of the system is smooth by idling start / stop standards. With my music on, many times it switched off the engine at a traffic light and I didn't even realise the same. This was one of the rare cars in which I didn't disable the auto start / stop. Coming from someone who hates this feature, that's saying a lot. Just don't know what it is going to do to the turbo as I like cooling it down before switching the engine off (related thread
• Just like the clutch, the steering also has some weight to it at parking speeds. This isn't a one-finger-light steering like the Hyundais. If you are looking at the Duster and desire convenience in the city, it's better you get the CVT. I had a quick & short 5 km spin in the CVT variant. Must say, it’s butter smooth (as all CVTs are), and quite quick too, thanks to the sheer power on tap! Yes, the rubber-band effect is there, but I found it to be tolerable if you build up speed gradually - that’s the best way to drive any CVT. Accelerate hard & you'll hear some of that typical CVT whine & the rubber-band effect is pronounced. No paddle shifters in the CVT, although you do have “manual mode” which can be used in certain situations (e.g. downshifting just before overtaking - a recommended practice with CVTs). Read here
what BHPian nimz_blr has to say about his Duster CVT.
Renault Duster 1.3L Turbo Petrol Review on the Highway
• The engine revs effortlessly to ~6,300 - 6,400 rpm. I would have liked for it to rev a little higher as this limit is on the lower side for a petrol. Admittedly, we have been seeing a lot of turbo-petrols with lower-than-expected max revs. Still, the Hyundai & Skoda turbo-petrols do go to 6,600 rpm which is more palatable.
• Floor the accelerator on the open road and this car feels like a Duster on steroids!! If someone told you this is an "RS" or "Abarth" version of the Duster, you would totally buy it. The Duster 1.3L is really fast and the acceleration is enjoyable. There is no way you'll keep the rev counter low with an empty road ahead of you.
• Under hard acceleration, you have to keep a firm hand on the steering wheel due to torque steer. Even if you floor it on the move in higher gears (say 2nd), you'll feel torque steer tugging at the wheel. Accelerate aggressively and the traction control light blinks as the front wheels scramble to maintain their grip on tarmac. While undeniably safe, the traction control & power cutting out can play spoilsport.
• Almost all turbo-petrols are fully alive
at 2,000 rpm. Not this 1.3L. While there is enough torque & pulling power @ 2,000 rpm, the motor becomes fully alive
only at a relatively late ~2,500 rpm. That's where it starts pulling like a train. The solid mid-range is addictive & enjoyable.
• The Duster's tall seating, good frontal visibility and explosive mid-range means overtaking is easy as pie. You can fly past other traffic on the expressway, who will no doubt be surprised to see an ol' Duster with such grunt. The Duster 1.3L is a properly fast 154 BHP crossover and you'll have a lot of fun driving it on the highway. The turbo-petrol has a lot of muscle at 2,500+ rpm. Some crossovers start losing punch at high speeds above 120 km/h...not the Duster 1.3. Keep the engine on the boil and this thing flies on the open road like no owner of the old Duster would believe.
• Keep an eye on the speedometer, else you won't even realise how fast you are going. It is very easy to reach silly speeds. Of course, the excessive wind noise (inherent problem of the Duster
) serves as a good reminder of the travelling speed.
• If you are an owner of the old Duster, I highly recommend taking the new turbo variant for a spin. It's just to experience the magic of a turbo petrol and how it has transformed this old workhorse.
• On the open road, thanks to the 154 BHP engine and sorted suspension, this is a properly fun-to-drive crossover. Must say, thanks to BS6 & intensifying competition, we are seeing some interesting crossovers. Even the Hyundai Creta 1.4 turbo petrol is fun; not only is that engine good, but even its suspension is sorted (shocker for a Hyundai!).
• The engine's NVH levels are absolutely brilliant. Even at the redline, the turbo-petrol is never too loud. There is no excessive screaming or groaning like we have seen with some petrols from Europe. In fact, this engine does feel more Japanese than European. Nissan effect, perhaps?
• I like how the 80 & 120 km/h warnings are soft and subtle. It's easy to drown them out with even regular-volume music (not that the head-unit's volume ever goes too loud).
• The auto start / stop feature will help increase your daily city FE, but since this is a 154 BHP engine, I don't expect it to be a highly efficient motor. This engine is about BHP, not kmpl. I'd say you should probably expect anywhere between 8 to 10 kmpl in the city, depending on traffic and your driving style. Let's wait for the Team-BHP ownership reports for accurate, real-world figures.
• Still good & mature ride quality, but some of that magic is gone. Renault confirmed to me that they have "retuned" the suspension for the almost 50% bump up in power compared to the old Dusters. It was obviously needed for the 154 BHP variant, versus the Duster 85 PS, the 1.5L petrol and even the 110 PS. However, that & the larger wheel size have taken some of that "magic carpet-ride" away. When I first experienced the Duster's unbelievable ride quality, it was running 215/65 R16 tyres & the old suspension tune. The RXS & RXZ variants of this turbo-petrol Duster get 215/60 R17 rubber. The firmer suspension & 11 mm lesser tyre sidewall height do bring more firmness on bad roads when compared to the R16 variants. It is still good ride quality, but not magical
like the old softer, R16 Dusters.
• On the highway, the Duster's road manners are safe and sorted. In fact, I will say that the handling & dynamics have actually improved a bit due to the retuned, firmer suspension.
• The RXZ variant of the Duster Turbo is equipped with ESP. Nice to know that ESP is there to help you out when you lose grip / during an emergency manoeuvre.
• The steering kickback that we mentioned in our first Duster review still exists. If you drive hard on a mountain road, this kickback gets extremely annoying. It's like the steering is fighting with you. Sad that Renault hasn't fixed this after so many years.
• I don't like the brake pedal's numb feel. While the braking hardware does the job, Renault should have upgraded the brakes for the times when you are in a fun mood. When you are pushing the turbo-petrol really hard, you will be left wanting for more stopping power.
• Do you know about that 60-year-old uncle in your neighborhood who's a fitness freak and can outrun you in a marathon? The Duster Turbo is like that. Older than most, yet fast...with a whole lot of drama & stamina.
Price & specs, relative to the competition:
To differentiate the 1.3L Turbo variant, Renault has given it red accents on the outside. I hate these red inserts and IMHO, they look terribly gawdy! If I were a Duster owner, I'd get these removed before taking delivery. Other than that, I don't have a problem with the exterior design because the Duster is still a handsome crossover. It's got the right proportions and more importantly, the right stance. What I really have a problem with are the interiors - more than the outside, it is the inside that feels old & outdated:
Amazing blue shade is called Caspian Blue. Renault is really trying to make the car look younger with such colours:
The car gets crimson red accents on the grille & foglamp pods:
The RXZ variant wears 17" diamond cut rims with red center caps. The design looks almost identical to the wheels found on the GT-Line variant of the Seltos
, which also has red caps:
The roof rails get red 'DUSTER' lettering:
As does the tail. These highlights look so after-market'ish. Please get the red removed if you buy the Duster Turbo; a silver or dark grey (like the skid plate) would look more neutral & classy:
Happy to see "petrol" marking. So many cars are missing this (diesel labelling is the norm, not petrol):
If you see this 'TURBO' badging, just know that it's a really fast car that can leave you behind in the dust (pun intended)!
The RXZ trim gets a meaty, chrome exhaust tip:
Prehistoric interior remains unchanged. It will be the biggest deal-breaker in showrooms. You will want this engine, but your family will detest the cabin:
As someone who prefers his steering wheels clean & uncluttered, I actually love Renault's implementation of the audio controls, where it is placed behind the steering
. I find the steerings of some new cars to be too busy & cluttered for my conservative tastes. Especially ones like the Sonet's
The instrument cluster couldn't get any more basic, huh? Again a throwback to a different era of cars! Compare it to modern Korean consoles and it's like a Nokia feature phone vs an iPhone:
Renault calls this 'premium blue glazed' seat upholstery. It is available in the RXZ variant:
Zooming in on the seat pattern and blue contrast stitching:
The Duster Turbo gets a 7" MediaNAV Evolution
touchscreen headunit with Android Auto + Apple CarPlay. Audio quality is like a typical OEM system and doesn't impress in any way. Even the 'max volume' doesn't go that high:
Quite a competent "auto start / stop system". One of the rare cars in which I kept it activated (I hate them otherwise
). Best part is, if you stall the turbo-petrol (which you will frequently
), all you need to do is press the clutch pedal and the engine automatically restarts!
Regardless of the colour of the exterior, the Duster gets this blue trim on the passenger-side of the dashboard:
1,330cc turbo-petrol engine produces 154 BHP & 254 Nm. Has a lot of muscle! The engine bay looks messy and could surely do with an engine cover:
Gets under-bonnet insulation. Engine is refined, including at high rpm:
Big Garrett turbocharger brings all the magic & lots of smiles:
The Duster features 'Remote Precooling'. Keyfob lets you start the car and cool the cabin before you get to it: