Renault Duster petrol-CVT Review

  • Published On: 16 July 2018
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The Duster now comes with a new petrol engine and a CVT gearbox. So, is it a better package now?

The CVT model looks very similar.
This model gets X-tronic badging.
The motor has decent power.
The interior isn't the most up to date.
The CVT model looks very similar.
This model gets X-tronic badging.
The motor has decent power.
The interior isn't the most up to date.

Automatic gearboxes are getting popular in India and Renault too has joined the bandwagon – the French carmaker is now offering an auto gearbox on its petrol and diesel Duster. The Duster diesel gets an automated manual transmission (AMT), the petrol gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The diesel AMT is only available on the top-spec RxZ trim, while the CVT is available only in the RxS trim, which is a trim below the top-spec. So, if you get the CVT version, you miss out on features like an auto AC and a reverse camera, but you get the touchscreen, and safety kit like ABS, EBD and dual airbags. The RxS also gets ESP and hill start assist.

Apart from the Xtronic badge at the back, there isn’t much on the outside to differentiate the CVT from the other cars in the Duster line-up. The same square headlights, twin-slat grille, cladding and scuff plates, 'S'-shaped LED tail-lamps and thicker roof rails (with 'Duster' spelled across) continue on this car. The interior is also unchanged and the fit and finish of plastics is not up to segment standards. Even the touchscreen feels very dated and unrefined. Space in the cabin is great and the seats are very comfortable. Legroom and headroom at the back are great and the large side windows make it feel airy and roomy.

Under the hood sits a 106hp, 1.5-litre H4K petrol motor, which replaces the 104hp, 1.6-litre unit. The combination of a 1.5-litre petrol and CVT has been used in the Sunny/Scala before. This unit has been improved by the company and Renault says that the Xtronic CVT is smaller, lighter and shifts about 30 percent faster than its previous CVTs.

When you’re driving this car around town, the 1.5-litre engine feels more modern and refined in comparison to the old unit, and it is quite silent too. Power delivery is linear but feels a bit slow, it almost feels like it is doling out its power in a very measured manner. This car isn’t for quickly darting through gaps, it feels tuned for relaxed city driving. The Duster does have a manual mode as well, but performance isn’t significantly better in this mode. The shift speed and feel of this gearbox is great, the rubber band effect or stretchy feel while accelerating, typical of most CVTs, is barely noticeable here - the shifts are nice and smooth. Ride is excellent, and the suspension easily soaks up bumps on our uneven roads, and handling is quite surefooted and predictable too.  

Should I buy one?

The Duster is now all too familiar, the interiors look outdated, and as far as material feel and design go, it’s not the segment leader, even in terms of equipment, it isn’t segment leading. The Duster CVT’s trump card though is that, at a price of Rs 9.95 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s a good Rs 3.5 lakh cheaper than a Creta automatic, and, in fact, just Rs 20,000 over a base Ecosport automatic. At this price, this is a hard car to ignore for what you get.

Author: Droom

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