A 3200km round trip to Kerala proved just how versatile and well-engineered the Duster is.
I do have a few big, nasty complaints about the car though. First, why is the clutch so heavy? In Bangalore’s crawling traffic, my left leg was constantly hurting with the effort. Second, also with the clutch, is that it doesn’t engage progressively. So it’s hard to drive the car smoothly off the line, it’s easy to stall and starting off on a slope requires torturing the clutch as you slip it to get moving.
Third, and most serious, is that the ABS needs a bit more calibration. It cuts in too early on lumpy surfaces and on more than a few occasions, I had my heart in my mouth. Because it cuts in early, you think the car’s not going to stop in time and this is something that needs looking into.
These bad bits aside, I’m totally bowled over by the Duster. Forget the few cheap plastics inside, and forget the ridiculous seat height adjustment. Because these things do little to take away from the fact that the Duster is versatile, it’s priced realistically, it’s capable and is a well-engineered, honest-to-goodness soft-roader. I, for one, am not surprised that it’s our 2013 Car of the Year.
Price Rs 14.61 lakh
Test economy 14.4kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs None