Off Roading with the Duster AWD
Adventure is a term that is beyond the thinking limits of any individual. My limited view of this term was restricted to the few activities that I have experienced in my life time. White Water River Rafting, Fox Flying, Balloon Safari, staying in a Tree House are to name a few that I have explored in my life time. But today’s activity that was arranged by Blogadda and Renault India was mind blowing. Thanks to these lovely folks for inviting me.
It was the launch of Renault AWD and we had the privilege to drive it first hand in the beautiful and scenic locales of Lavasa near Pune. The French makers had come up with the 4WD of the Duster Model long after its launch of the Two Wheel Drive. The day started early at 7:00 a.m. in Courtyard Marriott, Pune. 15 bloggers from Mumbai and Pune had come down to experience the mind blowing drive of their life.
With few instructions from the Renault Duster folks a convoy of Duster 4WD was flagged off to Lavasa. The beast was an absolute beauty as we manoeuvred it through the narrow roads of the countryside to reach the modern city. Once we reached Lavasa we drove it to the rough terrains of the hillside that I wasn’t aware of, despite the fact that I had visited this place twice. We indulged in some real off roading activities here. As the beast drove through rough dirt routes that was with slush, rubble and water beds thanks to the lovely rains, never did she falter in the whole trip. She absolutely was a delight to drive through in the rough terrain.
Duster AWD – RXZ Variant (Diesel)
Two variants are available for the AWD model the RxL and RxZ
- Plush dual tone red and grey seats looked great
- Dual Tone black and grey dashboard would have looked better with a uni tone
- 3 spoke steering wheel was sturdy and smooth to drive.
- Wiper and indicator controls have been reversed which makes it a tad difficult to use
- Touch screen console for the music system also houses location controls which helps to determine the nearest car repair, health centre, police and petrol station
- Enough leg space for the front and back seats
- Three Modes – 2WD, Auto and Lock Mode. Auto alternates between 4WD and 2WD as per the traction of the front wheels. 4 WD is the one that you should go for, to experience the off-road affair
- Eco mode for better fuel efficiency. Renault claims 10% improvement in fuel efficiency
- Gear Shift Indicator – Depending on the driving condition i.e. based on speed and gear it indicates increase/ decrease in the gear for better fuel efficiency
- TL8, 6 speed gearbox as against the TL4 in 2WD. I found slight difficulty whilst changing gears. Once you get a hang of the vehicle it is a breeze
- Reverse Parking indicator helps alert the driver in case of any obstacles
- Two airbags in the front row are available in the top end model
- Great boot space of 410 litres and could be increased further in case the back row seats can be folded
- The exteriors almost look the same as the two wheel drive except for the Anthracite alloy wheels
- The AWD and the 4X4 Badging
- Darkened Headlamp clusters
The Drive –
As the top end model was driven through slush, rut and rubble the vehicle performed beautifully and was able to manoeuvre easily. It was stable and the ASR, ESP features (sensors in the wheels and steering) help navigate through round patches. In the slushy areas I could feel the power in the rear wheels for better traction. The company claims that it could be driven under 400 mm deep water, with a ground clearance of 210 m.m it should be possible.
The change in architecture (T4), Electronic system and the Engine Compartment to bring about better performance are some of the alterations that have made a difference. The slope assistance could be felt when you drive the vehicle uphill on first gear. On releasing the pedal the vehicle stays put for few seconds.
Good to have –
- No rear A/C vent available. For the price range would have preferred this feature
- Considering it would be priced high approx 75,000 above the current high end model would have preferred a 7 seater as against the five seater model
All in all a great experience and if you are the adventurous kind who would go on long road trips this is the one. Go for it!