What stated as an search for a replacement for our aging Maruti 800 5 speed ended up with the Duster upgrade. It was a long patience research and search for over 3 months. I'd like to credit the T-BHP members for the great writeup and reviews to help make me aware of the pros and cons of the various choices. I was open for any car below 12.5L that best matched all my requirements. What I needed: #1- Seating
- We are 4 adults and 2 children below 10. So something that can take 5 adults comfortably will work. Seating width and shoulder room was essential. #2- Ground Clearance
- is essential with low body roll and bounce. I like to drive at a consistent speed and enjoy the ghats. The roads or lack of it in Kodagu makes it an essential.
I've added spacers or leaf to every car owned till now. I hate to scrape the floor. Even the Bangalore Mysore highway has humps the trucks are scared of. #3- Luggage space
- if it were possible we would see the house traveling along. In short bigger the better. Roof rack is not an option. My parking wont like it. #4- My drive
- mostly city. Something that can keep the needle stable at 100 for highway is fair.
Been there done it! No more crazy driving; even done 160+kph in M800. #5- Features
- rear windshield washer (a part of my brain keeps an eye on the IRVM, I am not comfortable when there is a block), good A/C performance, Electric ORVM #6- Ex-showroom price
below 10L. I could use that extra tax money on after market
. Thats the max I would push for. #7- Diesel
- Have been driving petrol/LPG all along, this one should be a Diesel. Compared to Petrol, Diesel is 40% more efficient by design. The TDs:
I wouldn't TD unless my requirements were met, no point waiting for the Car for a 15mins ride. Did physically check out many and got loads of brochures. The techy in me opened up an excel file comparing features, price, FE, Petrol to Diesel price break even on a variant.,etc.
To name a few that were on my favorite fell a bit short on my requirements; Skoda Rapid
(#2&4), Tata Aria
There were talks of EcoSport
in the horizon as a challenger for mighty Duster, but the specs fell short on #1&3
Finally narrowed down to a few for TDs: Mahindra Verito
from Logan experience I know it is wide, spacious, comfortable and good GC. May be its the cab perception that I couldnt shake off my head. To add to it the sales guy brought a white car for demo. The variometric A/C does its job exceptionally well. This could save me loads of cash too. The cab feel was just too strong. The wife shot it down. Tata Aria
- Dealer response wasnt great my TD car never arrived. Tata started losing my trust. By the time they woke up, I had already booked the duster.
- I was very excited about the caar. The feature list, the price band, GC, user reviews, all were falling in place.
Then the TD caar came home. Parents and wife got in, then there was the shock of my life. They said the space is same as our Spark. Loads of leg room and a massive trunk what about width. This was not expected. It was unbelievable, but then the ladies occupy the rear bench, I had to give them the benefit of doubt.
Got the measuring tape and voila! they were right the seating width translated only 2"inch more than my Chevy Spark. What a disappointment it was. My heart broke. All my research time wasted. Now I had to look for a new car. I wont spend money for the trunk space. Scala CVT
- dropped it after TDing the Sunny (#1). I find Scala CVT more value for money than the Sunny CVT for the default OEM equipments.
- this was not on my radar because of few ASS. But after Sunny/Scala debacle this was on No.1 position. Tank like build quality, wide seats. Liked the way the interiors are designed the door arm rest caves into the door to make more seating room. The media console is angled to give a cockpit feel. The TD was well rounded, the sales team have found a good route to showcase their handling and ride quality. Frankly, I tried my best to scrape the bottom, there were many opportunities, but it didn't happen. The Fiat glides on bad terrain. Barring the approach angle the new Linea can go anywhere in comfort. Came out of the car impressed. Only grouse was the slightly stiff ride, still better than the CAAR.
Although it fell short on #5 (no rear washer only defogger). The color choice is very limited. We liked the colors on 2012 models, very trendy. I would go for the suspension kit to fix #2 on 2012. Sad it was out of stock. Black was the only color we liked with 2013.
For some reason my younger daughter gave it a thumbs down. There went a brownie.
So I decided to give Duster one try before booking the Fiat.
Duster 85 RXL
- I was not very enthusiastic/keen on this one. I had initially looked at the interiors while I went to check out the Scala. The cost was at the stretched out end of my budget. There were no offers (they even charge for standard fitments which are usually waived off by others). So, finally waked into the Renault Whitefield for a TD. The Demo car was available and they arranged for a TD in no time. The Duster obeyed all my commands and felt good. Rough patches were not a problem any more. Most cars will smooth out a hump, the duster can dismiss potholes with ease as well. I got out of the car impressed. It ticked all my requirements. Next was to get it home it home for a drive with family. It was arranged promptly. I really liked the way the Renault Whitefield guys presented themselves. They were professional in their approach, valued time. My queries were answered by people from appropriate department who knew what they spoke and no-nonsense or beating around the bush. I also got to tour through the multi-level service station and compare the various Duster colors. The choice of colors:
Woodland Brown - 7 of 11 cars at the parking lot were Brown. Opted out of it.
Fiery Red - We already have a Red car so had to ditch it.
Galaxy Black - This was our initial choice. Looks great when shiny.
Graphite Grey - It has a bluish tinct to it and looked better when dirty along side the Black.
Moonlight Silver - Shiny even when dirty.
Left to right; Grey, Black and Silver Note
: None of the cars is washed and have similar level of dust and rain dried marks.
I kind of liked the Grey black combination of RXL better than the silver railings and mirrors of RXZ. Anyway the RXL(O) and RXZ were failed on #6.
So the final verdict was to come between Silver and Grey. This was a tough fight. There was a divide in family between colors. Finally came down to voting and Grey won by a small margin. What I liked apart from (#1-7):
- The boot space can expand into space for kids. Baby seat available as accessory, can seat two kids. (Future expandability)
- The wheel and body look very proportionate. Very few vehicles on our roads look that way.
- For some reason I liked the stupid ergonomics. Felt very practical. Was used to it by the time I drove home from showroom.
- The road presence. People tend to maintain safe distance.
- The presentation and demo by sales person.
- The floor of boot space is solid metal as the wheel is housed below. No weak spots on cardboard over wheels of sedan.
- Looks big but can get into some tight spots. Turning radius is small compared to its dimensions.
- One of the few vehicles that look good when dirty. Less cleaning.
- No turbo lag, drives like a petrol.
- The 85ps is a lean mean machine with enough power on the go.
- Trunk space is solid sheet metal as the spare wheel goes under. You can keep heavy load and also seat children without worrying about the board over the spare wheel, as in cars.
- AC performance is per my liking. It chills pretty well.
- The large window and light interiors give the car a very large and roomy feel. Actually feels larger than it actually is. What I didn't like:
- The power window switch on the rear seat is not placed right. It gets pressed unknowingly by the resting elbow.
- No automatic door lock (ignition or speed sensing). It does lock on its own if the key is not in ignition.
- No burglar alarm. (car wont be stolen, but everything from inside can be silently cleaned up)
- Its a dust magnet. No wonder its called the Duster. Like the Thar this is one of the cars that looks good with dirt.
- Hard clutch. Being a petrolhead this was a little odd for me Initially. But fewer gear changes makes up for it.
- On Highway you get a feeling of a missing 6th gear. Could be because we know they got it in 110ps.
- The floor mats provided by the ASS are pathetic. Didnt even last for 2months/2000km. Already getting bald.
The car was ready in 3 weeks, I had to push it a week more for delivery as the celestial bodies didn't permit for the arrival.
The D day, me and wife took a Rick and Volvo ride to the showroom. I had informed of our time schedule, the car was gleaming and ready for delivery.
They had kept it inside the showroom floor. I was promptly given a demo of the various equipments and spare tire lowering. The SA meticulously showed all the things that came with the car (Mats, Mudflaps, Jack, Spanner, reverse parking sensor, tail pipe finisher etc)
The seats had bar code of 11-May-2013, So I believe the car was assembled around this date or later.
Color: Graphite Grey
Dealer: Whitefield Renault
Model: HP RxL (85PS)
Total Damages: Rs.11,73,962/-
- Ex-Showroom: Rs.9,81,000/-
- Road Tax: 1,52,449/-
- Insurance: 25,800/- (Bumper to bumper zero dep Tata-AIG)
- Handling: Rs.7,000/-
- Standard Fitments: Rs.2,913/-
- Accessories added before delivery: Rs.4,800/- (Reverse parking sensor and Tail pipe finisher)
The reverse parking has 4 sensors and a little digital display conveniently sticker-ed to dashboard left corner.
Sensors are pretty effective, starts displaying message from object distance of 1.6meters.
Four weeks from booking The Grey Hound comes home. We did a small pooja at the showroom and brought it home. A second round followed by Dad.
A looks from the top
I prefer the smooth roof of my Duster and Spark compared to the ribbed roofs of many new generation cars. Under the hood:
The frugal 85ps k9k engine is a lean mean machine with enough power on tap. During the steep hill drive to Ooty (36 hairpin bends), the Duster could climb with ease and no fuss keeping RPM below 2500 all the while in 2nd and 3rd gear (with rare 1st gear to stay with slow moving traffic). While most cars would stop and open bonnets to cool down or risk getting roasted, the Duster moved on with enough energy on tap for overtakes. The engine did not feel strained at any point. It is fun to drive around 2k-2.5k rpm, the turbo has kicked in by then. The engine temperature remained normal through the journey, went a notch up during the hill drive then came down. That behavior was expected. Mileage:
I haven't done a full tank to full tank analysis yet as I felt it was premature to do that yet.
Anyhow, to reach the 2000km mark for the first service, we drove to Ooty. Ooty experience with pictures will come up shortly in Travelogue.
Since the purchase, I've done 6 trips to the fuel station out of which only two were full tanks (auto stop)
I've been capturing the stats since purchase on Carango Pro (thanks to 9thsphinx
). The app has options to capture all expenses, including service and insurance. Only thing is, like all other apps, the kmpl calculator only works from full tank to full tank so the results might be skewed.
However, as per the on-board trip computer, the worst mileage I see is 11.5kmpl and best mileage goes up to 22kmpl with an average display around 16.9kmpl.
My drive is mainly within city limits. The drives can be broken into 25% highway and 75% city/town and hill roads
. All this while, I've been maintaining RPM below 2500 with A/C On most of the time and engine idling during short stops. I was doing this for seasoning the engine. As per manual the engine will settle down by 6000kms so should avoid rpm over 3500 till then. The current performance is itself good, still sticking to the routine for longevity of the machine parts. 1st Service at Whitefield Renault, Bangalore:
The car was ready for first service with 2009 on the Odo. I had pre-booked my service, so my name was written on a white board when I arrived at the A.S.S. The lady at the reception got my vehicle number and paged for the adviser. Although the appointment was pre-booked and I was right on time, it took an hour for the Adviser to reach me. This is my only grouse. Apart from that I am happy with what followed.
The SA Mr.Thyagraju gave me a quick summary of the service that would be undertaken (see checklist). While inspecting he gave tips on general maintenance and running of the vehicle. Advised to have the Lacring done. Some senior BHPians on the forum had advise to go for it, so I didnt have an objection.
The job card was made quickly. I was offered to go for LBLACH79 Engine Lacring and 3MEC Engine Coating. The total damages for which including taxes was Rs.683/-
This is purely optional. I went for it has its benefits, specially when the engine is not supposed to be water washed. A water proof and anti-static coating has its advantage. It is just being a little extra cautious with the expensive electrical.
Now 2079km down the line I am happy to have chosen the Duster. View My Garage
for more pics and specs. The running costs and FE
is maintained in this spreadsheet