Finally, your wait is over. Renault India has launched the Duster AWD (All Wheel Drive) RxL variant and the RxZ variant in India. Renault has made it sure that in the next two or three months, you can walk into their showrooms and place your instant order for a Duster 4×4. Having introduced the Duster AWD, Renault has stood one among the few who offer a unique proposition in the mass market of car manufacturers. Till now the only Duster on sale was the front wheel drive variant. The AWD version opens up its soft-roading credentials as well as for competitive rallies. The new Car will go on sale this festive season and we are the lucky ones to try out the tools that make this Duster stop at nothing.
The Duster looks macho and muscular from all four corners. In terms of style, there’s a little to distinguish between the front wheel drive and 4×4 Duster but a few crucial changes has been made for the 4×4 to stand out. These are the smoked headlamps, gun metal finished alloy wheels and AWD decals running along the side of the car. The loud AWD stickers at the bottom of the doors and the rear pillar are eye catchy. Apart from the stickers the cosmetic changes have been done to the black surrounds inside the headlamp cluster and the anthracite alloy wheels which is painted in gloss grey. It also gets a small 4WD badge on the tail gate, in case the stickers peel off with time.
In comparison to the exterior the interior gets some notable changes. It gets a new steering wheel with cruise control buttons on it that looks nice and feels good to hold. It is also equipped with traction control, cruise control, a speed limiter, gear shift indicator, ambient temperature gauge, and real-time fuel efficiency display and satellite navigation as standard in the top-of-the-line RxZ model. The Duster AWD also comes with an integrated 2-din audio system with USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity. The list of driver’s aid is extensive too, which includes ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and dual front airbags. The AWD also gets a navigation system which is a welcome addition and was fairly accurate. Now the Duster adds three more reasons to whine about – the AWD knob, traction control and Eco Mode buttons.
One can get an electronically controlled AWD system that could be engaged on-the-fly with the help of a knob. One could slot it in permanent 2WD mode for the regular urban commute where it works like an ordinary front-wheel driven Duster, or it can be switched to lock mode, wherein the torque is equally distributed to all four wheels for better traction on tricky situations. This mode can be accessed till the speed of 60kph, after which it automatically switches to Auto mode. Renault has full faith in its AWD system and suggests we switch to Auto when venturing out in the wild as the electronics, when left alone, can do a better job on its own.
Renault offers the Duster AWD only in the diesel 110PS. The petrol 1.6 and the detuned 1.5-litre diesel with 85PS on tap will continue to be offered in front wheel drive only. The 110PS AWD Duster comes mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. There is better torque distribution across the power-band, making it easier to drive at lower rpms too.
The Renault Duster AWD RxL variant in India will cost at Rs 11.89 lakh and the RxZ variant at Rs 12.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It may not be as potent as a Mahindra Thar, Force Gurkha or the Maruti Gypsy, but it’s more in the league of the Skoda Yeti and Mahindra XUV wherein the SUV will be used more in the corporate jungle rather than out in the wild. And for those roles, the Duster AWD makes for a strong case.