Renault Duster 1.5 AMT Long Term Review
We took the Renault Duster is in AMT avatar through the daily grind, occasional highway trips to the hills and here is our report.
Photo Credit : Siddharth,
Duster is that one product that changed Renault’s perception in India. Duster has been in the Indian Market Since 2010 and has been a hit with the buyers. The Compact dimensions, high ground clearance, humongous boot and go anywhere ride quality is something that has done a lot to bump up the sales numbers of Renault Duster even with the presence of formidable competition.
Renault has been updating the Duster in small bits and pieces, with traffic congestion becoming real problem buyers are preferring automatic transmissions and with these buyers in target, The Company launched the Duster Diesel with an AMT Gearbox. The Petrol variant of the Duster also got an automatic gearbox in the shape of a CVT gearbox.
We at BWAutoworld drove the Duster AMT diesel in the City, Highway, Expressways, Hills a total of 6000kms and here is our report.
In the Looks, department Duster looks dated, but in the Cayenne Orange Shade our long term test car always stood out. Dated it may be but the Duster still has a lot of things going for it, the ride quality is still unbeatable, the 475Litre boot can still swallow a bunch of suitcases and bags. Duster still looks purposeful, 210mm of ground clearance is more than the stock Mahindra Thar and that is saying a thing. Ingress and Egress is easy and you straight up get inside the Duster, unlike other SUVs where either you are climbing on to them or sitting low inside. The 2019 Variant that we had, came with Android Auto and Apple Car Play support which add that extra bit of tech.
Duster AMT in the City
Driving the Duster AMT in the City has been an enjoyable affair. The AMT is not a traditional slushbox, it has negatives like jerks and hesitations at slow speeds. But all this takes 15mins to get used to. Driving the AMT variant of the Duster in the City was easy as driving the small automatic hatch. The K9K 1.5L DCI engine at 110ps has enough grunt to propel the Duster to triple digit speeds with ease. The gearbox shifts smoothly if driven with a steady foot, pedal to metal brings in the classic “head nodding” effect of the AMT gearbox. This is common to all cars with AMT gearboxes, but the Duster AMT has the creep function which is missing in a lot of AMT equipped cars. The Creep function is a boon in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The NVH levels are good, the cabin remains relatively silent even at high speeds and the suspension over bad roads is silent.
The AMT version of the Duster doesn’t come in the range-topping RXZ variant, One variant lower, the RXS is where the Duster AMT is positioned. So there are no soft-touch plastics or leather inside the cabin, but the plastics they feel they could outlast you. One thing that we noticed was a serious lack of cubby holes for storage overall in front and rear.
The omission of a rear AC vent was also missed as the Delhi Summer continuously hits 40plus degrees. The Fabric seats in the front are comfortable, although side bolstering is not up to the mark and you find yourself sliding out of the seats during fast corners. I’m 184cms tall and headroom and knee room was more than enough for me.
The Infotainment system on the Duster could have been better, the sound quality is not up to the mark if you look at the cars in the price range. There is navigation inbuilt as well, but in the times of Google Maps, it's slow.
Renault Duster with the proven K9K engine, robust suspension and now with the AMT gearbox is a comfortable mile-muncher. There is a button for eco mode as well place awkwardly in front of the gear lever. In the Eco mode, the gearbox upshifts quickly and this is best used in stop n go traffic. On the highways, we found using the AMT gearbox in manual mode as the best way to have an enjoyable and spirited drive.
The AMT gearbox in the Duster is no slouch though, it downshifts seamlessly, blipping the throttle while doing so. Once you get the hang of the gear shifting it’s much easier to drive. The Steering on the Duster is great, there is enough feedback and you feel connected to the vehicle at all times. It does fight back at the limits but how many times are you going to push the car to its limits … rarely. The dedicated audio control stalk is behind the steering wheel, initially, it felt weird but as you get used to having a dedicated audio control point at one place it feels naturally intuitive to use.
The other thing that we liked was the cruise control system, the button to activate is awkwardly placed below the infotainment system and the control buttons are on the steering. Once activated you can easily set the cruise speed in the memory, on deceleration and braking, pressing the “R” or recall button would quickly get you back to the speed in memory. A Boon on highways.
Braking on the Duster is fantastic, there is no moment where you feel you need more braking power. , We get electronic nannies like ABS, EBD with brake assist and ESP which never allows any drama to set in.
Once you are done with Tough Guy looks and feel of the Duster, there are small things which you start noticing. Like the lack of dead pedal in a clutchless car, the fit and finish of the cabin, the lack of storage places for bottles and cups. Mind you our test car had no rattles and squeaks even after putting it through the paces. The Low-res and slow infotainment system is another pain point.
The Duster is an abuse-friendly machine, it is the car's version of Fill it, Shut it and Forget it. Driving the Duster AMT through various terrains and situations, never did we come across any problems. Not once did the AMT gearbox get stuck, it does hesitate occasionally. But slow crawling speeds and high-speed expressway runs, The Duster AMT has been comfortable and abuse friendly. The Big boot also opens up a lot of uses for the SUV. Airport runs with luggage, hauling camera equipment, The Duster AMT does it with minimal fuss. For the price, it’s possibly the most well-rounded large-ish diesel SUV for families at this point. The proven K9K engine and platform also plays in its favor. If you want a rugged vehicle that you can take anywhere without worrying about anything this is it. Office, Parties and weekend getaways, The Duster can do it all.
If you have any questions or observations of your own, feel free to leave a comment below.