After a long wait, Renault India has confirmed the launch of the Duster crossover, which the French automaker plans to launch next month. Though the company has not confirmed the date yet but have confirmed that a launch in July is on the cards. The Renault Duster was spotted all over Chennai where the manufacturing is done, extensively testing the compact SUV before the launch.
The Duster is a very important product for Renault India in the Indian market that cannot be ignored with an all new segment in Indian automobile sector, compact SUV. Compact SUV is the entry level segment for the SUV sector that will be positioned below the likes of Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra XUV500, Tata Safari, Skoda Yeti 4X2 and Force One in terms of smaller in size as well as cheaper pricing.
The Renault Duster will be powered by both petrol and diesel engines that are currently doing duty on the Nissan Sunny. The 1.5-litre petrol motor produces a peak power output of 97 BHP at 6000 RPM and peak torque output of 134 Nm at 4000 RPM. The diesel engine on the other hand is the 1.5-litre dCi unit, which produces a peak power output of 108 PS. Both these engines are mated to a manual gearbox and a 4-wheel drive automatic variant Renault is on the cards for next year.
Currently the Duster will not have any competition for quite some time until Mahindra’s mini-Xylo rolls out that is expected to be launched in August, though not an SUV to compete with but in terms of price that will be almost similar. The arch rival for the Renault Duster will be the Ford EcoSport that is expected to roll out sometime in early 2013. The Maruti Ertiga can also be considered as a competitor to the Duster considering its size, price and the MUV tag (Maruti calls it LUV) that is already selling in great numbers.
The compact SUV segment is a major threat to the C-segment sedans with prices being almost similar, we must wait and watch if the Indian auto buyers will shift preference towards the compact SUVs. Though cost cutting will be evident on the Compact SUVs unlike the sincerely built sedans for comfort, performance and ride quallity.
On the contrary, practical conditions such as space, ruggedness for Indian roads and the dream of most Indians of owning a SUV says it all for the positive welcome to the Renault Duster provided competitive prices like we saw with the XUV500 that received a trememndous response, thanks to its competitive pricing. The Renault Duster is expected to be priced at Rs.7 lakh(ex-showroom).