Renault launches Duster compact SUV in India

04th of July, 2012 will go down in Renault's history books as the one in which the French car manufacturer really kick-started its innings in India. They might have entered our market long back with the Logan partnering Mahindra, but it did more harm than good for them. After the subsequent break-up, Renault went solo with three all-new launches in the form of Koleos, Fluence and Pulse in the last one year and has gained a decent foothold here. But, that one big blockbuster success have eluded Renault till now. This model launched yesterday has the potential to change that. In fact, this model is speculated to jump start a whole new segment in the Indian automotive industry that is expected to boom over the next few years. Yes, BMW and Audi already have their Compact Sports Utility Vehicles X1 and Q3, but they aren't for the mass market. The one that started it all and is affordable has bombed miserably - that's the Premier Rio we are talking about. It is in this virgin segment the Renault Duster is invading.

Remember that the Duster isn't actually a Renault by heart. Built for the low-cost Dacia brand which also underpinned the Logan, Renault was smart enough to identify a niche in the market and played its cards very well to bring out the Duster under its own badge. Quite understandably then, the Duster is square and boxy. But its high ground clearance and an overall tall stance does make the Duster look macho and muscular. Renault has also ensured that the car looks rich with a generous splashing of chrome and clever usage of black and silver-colored plastic. There are 5 variants on offer - RxE, RxL, RxL Option Pack, RxZ and RxZ Option Pack. The 1.6-liter petrol engine with 104 PS of maximum power is available only in RxE and RxL variants while the rest of the line-up comes with the popular 1.5-liter K9K diesel engine in two states of tune. The 85 PS variant is available in the first 3 trim level whereas the top-of-the-line 110 PS variant comes with RxL, RxZ and RxZ Option Pack.

While the two petrol variants are priced at INR 7.19 Lakhs and 8.19 Lakhs respectively, the diesel variant extends from INR 7.99 Lakhs for the base 85 PS RxE variant and goes up to INR 11.29 Lakhs for the top-end 110 PS RxZ Option Pack variant. All prices are ex-showroom Delhi. That's quite a big space that the Duster is trying to cover up. The top-end variant comes fully loaded with features such as 8 way adjustable driver seat, power mirrors, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Dual front Airbags, steering-mounted audio and phone controls and a rear AC with independent controls. Given Renault's stellar reputation for safety in the European market, it is disappointing that the company has not taken the same approach here in India by making ABS and Airbags standard across variants. The Duster is available in a palette of six colors and is expected to compete with the likes of Tata Safari and Mahindra Scorpio until the Ford Ecosport comes along and joins the fray. The Duster will also be exported out of Renault's Chennai facility to all RHD markets in the world, including UK.

We expected the Pulse to make it big in India but it hasn't exactly set the sales chart on fire, Renault's image not withstanding. The Duster though, with its muscular looks, wide range of variants, 3 engine options and adequately loaded interiors, has all the right ingredients for success. Will the Duster finally do what the Pulse couldn't and establish Renault as a mainstream player in India? With more than 3500 pre-launch bookings, Duster's prospects look very bright forcing us to say 'yes'.


  1. Ergonomics Matters a lot, If they are made comfortable this Machine will sell like hot cakes, and real competition to XUV500/Scorpio's and even For the fortuner, No SUV has such Mileage delivery as stated on thier Portal

    1. Hi Rahul,

      More than the ergonomics, it is Renault's brand image that needs to work to make the Duster a success. So far, the initial response has been fantastic with the Duster attracting 6000 bookings in just a week and it has to be seen whether this momentum is sustained. As you said, fuel-efficiency is one biggest strength of Renault-Nissan's K9K Diesel engine. We experienced it already in the Nissan Sunny and Renault Pulse and the Duster would be no different.

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