I started my search for a 4 wheeler during April 2012. I was using a Maruti Esteem (Gas / Petrol) and I was looking for a different one other than a sedan. To be honest, I didnt go for any test drives of all the cars in the market. Shortlisted Ertiga / Storme / Duster based on my requirement. By that time Ertiga was launched and I got impressed with the package it was offering. Since there was no news about the Storme / Duster launch dates, I booked a white Ertiga VXi (ABS
) @Popular, Muvattupuzha, Kerala during 1st week of May with the delivery expectation of 1.5 - 2 months. But it didnt materialize either because of the dealer's irresponsible behavior or the strike at the plant. To increase the probability of getting the car I did another booking at another dealer too (@Indus, Muvattupuzha, Kerala).
From one of the thread in T Bhp, I came to know that the Duster is going to launch on July 4th and started reading the reviews to get more idea about it and on July 3rd I transferred my booking amount to TVS (Renault Cochin dealer) to their Madurai a/c without specifying Petrol/Diesel/variant with an understanding that I can select the variant after the launch and test drive.
Atlast, I chose 85RXE (Diesel) variant based on the test drive experience with 110PS. The promised waiting period was 1-2 months. But I had to wait for 4.5 months due reasons only known to the dealer / Renault and changed the model to 85RxL(O). I got it for the initial pricing ~11.25Lakhs w/o choosing any additional addons from the dealer and took the zero depreciation insurance from National for ~21K compared to 36K quoted by the dealer. The ordeal didnt end there, the left drive shaft full assermbly got changed under warranty with in 1 week due to improper crimping on the rubber boot. The Engine
– The K9K engine, India's "national engine" had already proven its robustness and reliability in Logan. I have seen taxis with more than 2lakh kms and running without any sweat. Its refined, but not a rev happy diesel for an impressive mileage. With the combination of linear turbo and a 5 speed gearbox, its a peppy car to drive. But sometimes we may feel out of breath in highways. A remap is in the pipeline once everything is settled. I want the peppiness in the 4th and 5th gear without loosing the current peppiness at the initial gears. Since the duster is built to cost, it will be a NO NO for a TUNING BOX, dont want to risk the injectors. So a safe remap is recommended (the pistons/transmission and other related parts are different and doesnt support the torque of 110 dCi). Need to analyse more. The cabin space
– Its more than adequate for a dravidian family, there is no one in our family with more than 6ft ht. All seats have good knee room, shoulder space and outside visibility. Driveability
– Inspite of having the size of a crossover, it is an easy drive car with great road visibility. The clutch is not to my liking, hence I opted for 85PS, in city it requires less number of gear shifts than 110PS. Gearshift
– Shifting is smooth, but slightly notchy. Short throw and slots well. But the slight hardness of the clutch can be a let down if it is frequent. Brakes
– Slightly spongy, but did a bleeding during the 2nd service. But it does the job without any drama, did a detailed test during the test drive, tried to stop a non-ABS
model @~100/110 speed, it stopped with a slight screeching, but it never went out of control. Once I had a similar situation with my car too, with ABS
it did perfect. Good GC and Tuned Suspension
- This is the highlight of duster and can glide over pot holes very well. It was put to test on our trip to chikmagalur trip. There is one botanical garden \ rock garden (under development) and to reach there is risky as literally there is no road and its like a forest to cross. Most of the tourists might have not gone there because of this. On the way, I could see only a few locals in a Jeep with a weird look like "Are you crazy". BTW
, you will get breathtaking views from there, a nice place for a photo enthusiast like me. Large Boot
- It has good boot space and could carry all the luggage of 2 families + 25ltr water container + other goodies on a long drive to Goa. Interiors
: Plastic quality for this price is a let down, but its very practical. The ergonomics are not a deal breaker for me, except the power window controls. I like the audio controls and the orvm controls' location (common complaint), but I find perfect for me. Since the audio controls are at a constant location irrespective of the steering position, will not confuse while driving. Also I can easily locate the orvm controls while driving, without looking at it. Also I feel the size of the rear view mirror is less, a bigger one will be more comfortable. Seats need improvement, its not so supportive, it definitely requires an ortho seat attachment with good lumbar and thigh support. Another issue is the A-pillar blind spot while turning, it could hide a whole Alto. A few more observations
- The headlights could be more powerful esp for highway runs. I am planning for Hella aux lights, but keeping it on hold due to the recent checking in kerala.
- The horn is adequate, but a better one is recommended
- The music system has all the features you would need and is relatively easy to use, the sound is not a big let down, with proper setting its not so bad for an average user. The default speaker size is 5.25" and needs reinforcing the door panel to accomodate a bigger one.
- The rear parking assist works pretty well and is accurate.
- Observed a slight dimming of headlights while some electrical load is there, eg: during a load on electrical power steering while truing the steering
- Windnoise due to the rails / orvms at high speeds. One solution is to increase the ice vol, but I like to listen the engine during my spirited drives.
Anyways, now its running fine and I am happy with my decision. I am getting 16-18km/l in city and 20-21km/l in highway with <2700rpm for sedated drive ~80-100 and occasional use of AC. Once it cross the 110-120 mark, the FE drops and got 15-16km/l (with AC) during a pondy drive with occasional 160-165km/hr.
[Update] : Recent filling (60ltrs) at the Cochin refinery bunk gave 19km/l on highway with full AC (~100-130km/hr) and I am getting 17-19km/l in city with occasional use of AC. A big difference that I noted was that the vehicle became more crisp in response. Following are some of the pictures which I took during the initial days