It has been several years since Duster entered SUV market and dusted off the competition. However I’d not driven one till date. Finally took it on rent for 2 days and drove it in and around Bengaluru. It is little too late to review this car- there’s already been tons of reviews already. Nevertheless, now that I’ve driven it, below are some photographs and my observations on Reno duster.
Note that what I drove was the cheapest variant, 85PS RXE diesel, with 18000kms on the odo already. This variant misses on lots of features. Hence my observations will be different from other reviews, which are mostly done on top spec RxZ variant.
The cheapest duster variant misses out on whole lots of goodies, in order to cut cost. Mirror is manually adjusted, front row alone gets power windows, obviously no airbag, ABS/EBD, alloy wheels, reverse parking sensor, entertainment system n such stuff. Only one overhead lamp provides very poor illumination- to second row passengers in particular and to overall vehicle interior in general. Second row head rests are fixed and can’t be adjusted. Sunvisors don’t get any mirrors, no rear AC vents. Steering has tilt adjustment, not telescopic.
That is fine. Job of cheapest variant is often to pull people to showroom with a lower price tag. Then salesmen/women would try selling a higher variant to the prospect. So with that objective, base variant is just fine. (There is close to 5 lakh rupees price difference between the cheapest and most expensive variant of Duster).
Compared to Ecosport, duster feels like it has a thicker skin, more rugged build and capable of handling more abuses/bad roads than Ecosport. Ecosport feels a bit tender and delicate in comparison. (Both Carzonrent and Zoom have Ecosport in their fleet, you can check them out. My review of Ecosport Petrol, Diesel, Ecosport photoshoot )
Ground clearance is very generous and there is huge boot space. But Duster continues to be a 5 seater. (in the move HNY, SRK had to abandon Duster once Deepika joined the team and size grew to 6). Mahindra has added quanto’s last row seat in much smaller space. Also Nissan has put extra seats in its version of Duster, Terrano. The 4.3 meter length isn’t helping with tax savings either (Ecosports gets that advantage). So those with large family or those who see the need for 2 more seats should invest a little more and opt for other SUVs in Duster’s price range. Those looking for a muscular looking 5 seater SUV with lots of space and decent power, can consider Duster. Unlike other SUVs such as Safari, there is no external footrest below the doors, so your black cat commandos can’t hang on to the car, holding skyrack in one side.
Given the size of the vehicle, 85PS might appear underpowered, but I felt that is fairly adequate. It has enough power to pull people and luggage, could reach a top speed of 161-162kmph and has good acceleration. However, after 140kmph, 85PS duster’s steering wheel begins to vibrate mildly, clearly communicating to the driver : “hey! You’re pushing me too much and I am not really in my comfort zone”. Nevertheless, 85PS is adequate for normal usage, you can save a few lakhs by not opting the 110PS version.
This time I had a suction mount with me, so I was checking out where all I can mount the same. I could fix it firmly on the bonnet, on the windshield, but on the side of the car- on wheel arches, door panels etc, it was difficult to mount the 9CM dia suction mount (note: a smaller dia mount would have probably held on). Because the surface isn’t fully flat, suction cup gave way and fell down after sometime. I could fix on the glass and few other places, but wanted to mount on the wheel arch, but couldn’t. I think it is time automobile designers give some thought about the action cameras and give some flat surfaces on the vehicle body, so that mount can be attached.
I drove for about 433kms in 2 days and duster consumed 40.56 lliters of diesel , resulting in net fuel economy of 10.675 kmpl. This is with good amount of high speed highway driving, normal use of AC, some luggage hauling, bad roads and other practical everyday usage. Duster’s claimed fuel economy is 20 kmpl, twice what I got.
Overall, it was fun driving this car around.