The compact-SUV segment is surely the craze of the day currently in India. However, what a lot of you may not remember is that the Renault Duster was the first original compact-SUV in India, kick starting the segment way back in 2012. At that time, Renault had the first mover advantage and the Duster turned out to be runaway success for the French carmaker in India. Heck, it was even offered with a AWD system, something unimaginable for compact SUVs these days.
In fact, the Duster was one of the most affordable vehicles in India to be offered with an AWD system back then. Owing to its compact dimensions and fairly less weight, the Duster was a pretty accomplished off-roader with its all-wheel drive system. This was one of the reasons why it became so popular as its go-anywhere capability took the liking of Indian buyers. Likewise, here we have a video of an old BS4-spec, pre-facelift Renault Duster taking on one of the most challenging off-road obstacles - the slushy mud pit crossing.
We will have to admit that the Duster overcame this obstacle with fair ease. The SUV entered the slush pit with control and poise and thanks to good clearance and traction from the all-wheel drive system, it did not beach itself in the puddle of slush. This is also a good showcase of the water wading capacity of the Duster. That said, the SUV got it's wheel spinning when trying to climb out of slush pit. However, with a little more momentum in it's second attempt, the Duster climbed out quite easily. Barring some serious off-roading obstacles, the Duster was plenty capable for most off-road scenarios.
Sadly, with the transition to BS6 norms, Renault have discontinued both the diesel engine and the AWD drive system on the Duster. The BS6 Renault Duster is available as a petrol-only front-driven SUV. Currently, there are two petrol engines on offer with the Duster - a 1.5L NA petrol and a 1.3L turbo-petrol. The affordable 1.5-litre unit that makes 106 PS/142 Nm and can be had only with a 5-speed MT. Meanwhile, the 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine generates 156 PS/254 Nm and is mated to a 6-speed MT or an optional 7-step CVT.
Although the segment has vastly matured over the last few years, the Duster remains one of the more affordable offerings in the segment. Prices for the Renault Duster currently range between INR 9.57 lakh - INR 13.87 lakh (ex-showroom). The compact SUV segment has certainly become a lot more colorful and exciting these days, thanks to the Hyundai Creta and the Kia Seltos. With two more slated to arrive very soon - Skoda Kushaq and Volkswagen Taigun - the competition is going to get even tougher. Although Renault has been regularly updating the Duster with facelifts, new engines and more features, it's still way behind the competition.