|FRENCH REVOLUTION-RENAULT DUSTER|
Renault seem to be hell-bent on changing the common perception about European cars in India with the Duster, their price warrior SUV!
This is the big one for renault india.
Not just in size, but the sheer importance of this sUV to be successful for the company’s future. the Duster is a popular compact sUV sold internationally with the Dacia badge. So to get a first impression of the sUV we, pretty much as in a Guy Ritchie flick, packed our cameras (zip), hopped on the first flight (swoosh) and landed in Chennai (screech).
The india-spec Duster was waiting for us at the test track of Renault-Nissan’s plant, where it is manufactured. While chatting with the company’s Managing Director, Mark Nassif, we discovered that Renault India have made several changes and reduced NHV levels so that the vehicle would be better suited and more appealing to the Indian customers. The obvious visible changes include the new chrome grille with the renault badge, roof rails, prominent sump guards and new bumpers. the bonnet looks rather squat and flat and would have looked better if it had more rake, merging with the ‘A’ pillar. the accentuated wheel-arches and tail-lamp highlights make it look impressive even from the rear. The Duster has great proportions and good road presence, a must for sUVs, and due to its compact size it’s not over-imposing either.
We drove the top-of-the-line RxZ variant with chrome-finish roof-rails, outer rear-view mirror (orVM) console and some chrome inserts in the cabin as well. You get an option of full leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob or you may opt for fabric upholstery. the dashboard has a combination of glossy black and hard matt-beige plastic. Although the quality of the material is not exceptional, it can be acceptable since it was built for a price. the centre console is flat and neatly laid out, though the ‘piano black’ shroud could have been of better plastic. there are a couple of cup-holders and only the front doors get storage pockets. The driving proportions are spot on and there’s good overall visibility from the driver’s seat, since you sit high. You also get a fairly decent music system and reverse sensors as added features along with Abs, ebD and air-bags.
If you are used to Japanese cars, then locating the buttons and switches around the dash might take a little while. For instance, the door’s central locking button is at the bottom of the console, the orVM adjuster is near the hand-brake and the audio controls, as in most renault cars, are behind the steering wheel. in reality these are minor issues and in a couple of hours you’ll know exactly what’s where.