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Sponsored Feature: The international Indian SUV

2nd Sep 2015 2:10 pm

Sponsored Feature: The Renault Duster fuses international quality with Indian values.

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DRIVING AHEAD AROUND THE WORLD

What many don’t know is that Renault is a company of firsts. In the automotive world, it is a true pioneer. It invented the sedan way back in 1899. That’s not all. It invented the gearbox, the turbocharger, the hatchback and the MPV. Now that is really impressive. In fact, for the past 117 years, Renault has been revolutionising the automobile industry with its inventions and its stylish, comfortable and efficient cars. It has even achieved incredible success in the extremely competitive world of motorsport. Since 1977, Renault has powered through to win eleven drivers championships, twelve constructors titles and numerous wins at Formula One. Such was its success that in 2013, four teams out of twelve on the Formula One starting grid were powered by Renault engines. Has this reflected in how its products sell? Absolutely. But then, Renault cars have historically been bestsellers around the world. The strategic acquisitions Renault has made over the years like Dacia, Samsung Motors and Nissan have seen it become one of the most innovative companies in the world.

What about India?

Car manufacturers around the world know that India is a market like no other. What works well in multiple markets can flop painfully here. Renault knew this. It entered the market cautiously. Renault set up a technology and business centre at Chennai in 2009. In 2010, it set up a manufacturing facility. A year after that, the facility rolled out its 100,000th car. What’s interesting is that the production facility in Chennai has the capability to roll out 4,00,000 cars a year. A little under a year later, Renault unveiled
the Duster at the New Delhi Auto Expo 2012 and sent ripples through the auto industry. Six months later, when the Duster launched, the response it received from the Indian market was nothing short of phenomenal. Over the next couple of years, the Duster won several awards and still continues to sell in large numbers. Today, Renault has over 1.7 lakh satisfied customers and a strong network of over 200 dealerships across the country.

Strengthening the bond
      

Renault was looking for a symbol that would perfectly portray its confidence and commitment to the Indian market. This year, on its fourth anniversary, Renault announced India’s leading actor Ranbir Kapoor as its brand ambassador. It marked the union of two iconic brands synonymous with passion, innovation, universal appeal and an illustrious and successful lineage. This was a perfect way to signal Renault’s next phase of growth in India.

BUILT TO BE UNSTOPPABLE

The Duster helped Renault set up a very strong base on which to build its future in India. Let’s take a look at why the Duster became a runaway hit.

It’s got the looks

The Duster’s styling raised eyebrows when it was launched a few years ago and continues to do so. A contributing factor is probably the fact that Renault pays a lot of attention to automotive design. In order to align with the Indian market, Renault even set up two global design studios at Mumbai and Chennai and a research and development facility at Chennai.

When the Duster was unveiled in 2012, it caused a stir in the market. It was quite the show stealer amongst a line-up at an Auto Expo where all auto manufacturers had brought out their best. When it was launched, the Indian audience went on a Duster shopping spree. Its strong SUV looks, superb ground clearance; sleek, muscular design had people queuing up at the showrooms. Everyone was quite taken by the big, beautiful Duster.

The engine of champions

Since 1977, Renault cars have been equipped with world championship winning engine technology. We already know how successful they have been and continue to be in the hyper-competitive arena of Formula One. What Renault did though, is take all its know-how of making world champion engine technology and put it to work in its road cars.

The Duster is no exception to this. Both engines that are available with it deliver a great driving experience. The 1.5-litre diesel engine offers two power outputs — 84bhp and 109bhp which comes mated to a 5-speed and a 6-speed gearbox, respectively. These offer great comfort during start-stop city driving and fun while cruising on highways. This power is used responsibly. The 1.5 offers best-in-class fuel efficiency of 19.87kpl and the 1.6 isn’t far behind with 19.64kpl.

Those who prefer petrol aren’t left out either. The Duster also comes with a 1.6-litre engine that churns our 103bhp and is coupled to a 5-speed transmission. Enough power to ensure a very easy drive no matter where you are. And with 13.05kpl, it’s economical too.

THE INSIDE STORY

The Duster’s looks give it great presence on the road and off it. Thanks to those engines, it’s quite capable too. But does the story continue when you’re inside the car?

Get comfortable

The first thing you notice when you’re inside the Duster is the space. In a country where every inch is at a premium, the Duster gives you a lot of personal space. And we Indians are a curious lot. We want to pay the least, but expect the absolute best. Looks like Renault’s research division understood its target audience really well. They offered the space, comfort and provided just the right amount of features to keep everyone who brought the Duster home, happy.

The driver obviously is the focus in every car. Great efforts are made to ensure that the driver has a good view of the outside, while being in a position that helps him or her maintain complete control of the car. All this without sacrificing comfort. This is why the driver’s seat in the Duster offers not two or three but eight fatigue beating seat settings. The rear passengers aren’t ignored either. With up to 82.5cm of legroom and enough space for three to sit comfortably, everyone can stretch their legs. The plush beige interior made with meticulously crafted premium blended leather upholstery feels great and looks great too.

The premium soft-touch dashboard isn’t just a fusion of ergonomics and elegance; it houses the entertainment nerve centre of the Renault Duster.

The MediaNAV system lets you control all your music with a touch, provides navigational support and even attends to all your communication needs. The steering-mounted audio and phone controls are intuitive and easy to use and a simple way of handling audio and your phone. The steering wheel also lets you activate cruise control, so long drives become even more relaxing, just the way they were meant to be. And with 474 litres of boot space, you can carry your entire world with you if you so desire.

EXPERIENCE THE DRIVE

Getting behind the wheel of an SUV gives drivers a certain confidence that other cars cannot provide. The seating position, commanding view, ability to see further ahead and plan your drive accordingly and most importantly, the respect other cars give you on the road, all adds to it. And when you’re on a long drive, you get to learn a lot of things about the car you’re driving.

All-purpose SUV

What you will fall in love with is the honest, no-nonsense character of the Duster. It is also extremely practical. Combine that with its incredible fuel economy and the 50-litre fuel tank and you’ve got a real long-distance runner. The Duster sips fuel frugally and drives like something with a much larger engine.
What really inspires confidence though is the way the Duster grips the road. Its poise is phenomenal. It handles highway speeds and corners with such ease that the Duster becomes unbelievably easy to drive. Then there’s the ride quality, flat and consistent. It just hides the bad roads.

This is thanks to a combination of factors. The Duster’s monocoque body provides increased torsional rigidity, handling and safety. This is also the reason the Duster feels like one solid, integrated unit. Its intelligent electronic stability programme controls the grip of each wheel and keeps the Duster stable while cornering and in wet conditions. When on an incline, the Hill Start Assist applies the brakes for an additional two seconds after the brake pedal is released to ensure the Duster doesn’t roll back. If you’re in the mood to make your own path, the shift-on-the-fly AWD with iDrive lets you switch between multiple transmission modes. In such situations, the all-wheel independent multi-link suspension with electronic torque control keeps you posed and ready to make your way through anything. The ABS with EBD and brake assist keeps the car in control when you really need it. 30° approach angles and 35° departure angles allow you to take the Duster to places you wouldn’t dream of in other cars.

But remember, the Duster is all about practicality. When you have a long way to go, just engage Eco mode that enables approximately 10 percent less fuel consumption. And when you arrive, the rear parking sensors make sure the Duster remains scratch free.

But don’t take our word for it. Let’s hear from those who actually live with a Duster.

I’ve been driving my Duster for three years now and am very satisfied with it. There weren’t too many options in the market in that price range at that time and even competition was very limited. Even when I compare it to what’s available today, I’m glad I bought it. It feels like a proper SUV. And the quality of everything in the car is quite good. I love the way it looks. After I took a test drive,
I was convinced enough to buy the top-of-the-line model that was available at that time. I think there’s nothing like it. The ride quality is great and driving around in it is really comfortable. It handles really well too. But an SUV feels wasted in the city. I regularly load all members of my family into it with their luggage and head out for long drives. There’s enough space for everyone to be comfortable. They also love that it has a rear AC vent. Our drives from Delhi to Amritsar are quite common. There’s enough power in it for the city and the highway. Living with it for the past three years has also been really easy. The dealership themselves call whenever it’s time to get the car serviced. The service they provide and their service centre staff is really good. Everything is hassle-free.    - Paramjeet Singh

I love driving. And I’ve been driving my Duster for a year now. When I was in the market for a new car, I tested the Duster and loved its strong SUV styling. The car itself feels strong. I was impressed with the ground clearance, the interior space, the headroom and the legroom. One of the main reasons I bought it was because of its power. The ride too is really comfortable and the Duster is so easy to drive. That’s the reason I drive it every day to work and back. On an average, I end up driving it about 70km per day. I even take it out for long drives every once in a while. In fact, I’ve drive from Delhi to Jammu in it. The feature I really like about this car though is the Bluetooth connectivity it offers. It’s so easy to use and so easy to sync. All the controls for it are on the right of the steering wheel and I find using this system extremely comfortable. Everything I need is just a click away. I’m also a stickler for quality. And on that front too, I’m pretty satisfied. The service quality too is good. I’ve only sent it to an authorised service centre and will continue to do so. The services they offer are good and their quality leaves me satisfied. Overall, everything about the Duster is really nice.    - Himanshu Chhabra

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