2012 Renault Duster | first drive

Posted on May 8, 2012 by

Renault claims to have grown phenomenally in the UAE over the last couple of years. In numbers, the company claims over 40 per cent growth.  However, they are not content with their current growth path and remain bullish in capturing even more market share and they are hoping to turn the entry level SUV market on its head with their latest offering, the Duster.

At the media briefing, Renault made it very clear that they aren’t just targeting the entry level SUV customer but also those who are looking to buy an affordable sedan. They are betting on space and practicality offered by the Duster that sedans can’t match.

The Duster is based heavily on the Logan platform, which is one of Renault’s highest selling budget sedans built especially for developing countries. Those who are familiar with the Logan will instantly notice a lot of shared components in the interior. The instrumentation cluster and bits of the dashboard come from the same parts bin and that is a key factor in enabling Renault to price the Duster so competitively.

At the launch we drove the entry level PE variant that is priced at AED 48,500. At that price, Renault just can’t go wrong with this car. Even though it’s not rich on features and everything is bare basic, it still offers a good amount of space and the drive isn’t all that bad. It could do with a bit more insulation to keep engine and road noise at bay and personally; I would rather see Renault offering an adjustable steering column rather than a Bluetooth enabled stereo. The seating position was a bit awkward and I did have to struggle to find the right driving position.

The steering and the brake assist also felt a bit unusual. The assist fluctuated from being maximum to completely missing. The steering and the brakes went from being very light to extremely heavy within seconds. This hints at how Renault has managed to keep the price down and for an owner this means a rather uncomfortable driving experience.

However, the amount of space for the front row and the second row passengers is adequate and the seating position is a bit more upright when compared to the second row of a sedan. Plastic quality is nothing to write home about and the PE variant doesn’t match up to the quality which some similarly priced sedans have on offer.

The is available with a 4×2 and a 4×4 drivetrain. Both share the same 2-litre petrol engine that produces 135bhp at 5,500rpm and 195Nm of torque at 3,750rpm. The 4×2 variant gets a 4-speed automatic gearbox whereas the 4×4 gets a 6-speed manual. The 4×4 variant, priced at AED 64,500 is available on order and comes as a SE trim only.

Those looking to buy a 4×4 variant need to know this; it’s not a car that you can go around conquering dunes in. The engine really doesn’t feel capable of hauling this car in demanding situations. The torque is a bit low for a car claiming to be an SUV and it’s best to attempt some loose gravel roads if you must take it off road.

The basic PE version gets fabric seats, front power windows and a drivers side airbag. 16-inch pressed steel wheels and a Bluetooth enabled stereo is also part of standard equipment. The next level is the SE variant that gets 17-inch alloy wheels, dual front airbags, ABS, all-round power windows, electrically operated mirrors, tilt-adjustable steering column and roof rails. The top of the line SE+ variant gets a full leather interior and curtain airbags along with everything offered in the SE variant.

The Duster’s pricing is set to blow the competition out of the water and being the newest car in the market, it also has a certain novelty to it. Affordability and interior space is this car’s USP over similarly priced SUVs and sedans. The Renault Duster is very good proposition for someone who is on a budget and if you are planning to buy an entry level car in the near future, I really recommend you go give the Duster a try before making up your mind. However, the base PE trim isn’t an ideal family car. You are better off buying the SE or the SE+ variant.

We will be driving the top of the line SE+ variant soon and that promises to be a whole different car in terms of quality and features. Stay tuned for more.



PE: AED 48,500
SE: AED 56,500
SE+: AED 62,000

SE 4×4:  AED 64,500


Type: 2-litre 4-cylinder
Max. power: 135bhp @ 5500rpm
Max. torque: 195Nm @ 3750rpm


4-speed automatic (4×2)
6-speed manual (4×4)

4 Responses to 2012 Renault Duster | first drive

  1. Antony Reply

    May 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I have noticed one other negative issue, there is no access to the petrol tank from inside the car. We have to go out and open the fuel tank lid by using the key every time of petrol filling or should keep the spare key in hand all the times. According to me it is very difficult. If renault could solve this problem i would order a new duster at the same time.

    • Pankaj Dev Reply

      May 13, 2013 at 12:27 am

      This is a hassle, specially in summer months. Who wants to step out to open a fuel tank lid during the day? I hope Renault looks at this soon and sorts it out.

  2. lucky Reply

    July 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I took the car out for a test drive just very recently and I found it really great. The height is really fantastic, the look from the inside and the outside is awesome, with bluetooth, cd player, nice speaker, usb port, sound control, I think they are lovely and more safer than buying a saloon car with the same price.
    Negative sides:
    1. When you press the accelerator, it wont pick up so qucikly
    2. The back seats wont really be folded exactly flat.
    3. Front & back bumbers are not even painted.
    4. There is no armrest.
    5. The window switch button are very weird, they are in the middle of no where.
    6. The window at the back are mannual.
    7. Horn button is very weird.
    8. Antenna is very weird, because they put it in front. Never seen it before!

    And other negative point also is that, when you order the car, you have to wait for centuries to get it. I ordered the car and everything was done with the bank and I even sold my car because of there positive promises, but now I ended up taking a cab everyday for work because the car is still not available. They need to speed up the process in order not to disappoint and give frustrations to there customers.
    The 1.6l engine would be a lot better than 2.0l..to save a lot of money for the petrol…2.0l is not required anyway…1.6l is more than enough and is really great for people who are saving money for the petrol..

    • amaljos Reply

      November 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      i have got a 2013 duster
      it takes ages to get delivered..
      but there are 3 variants each in PE as well as in SE

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