There is no denying that the Dusters design is a study in simplicity. It’s boxy, back-to-basics, no frills shape and design ensure that it fits the bill of a SUV properly. The no nonsense shape might be boxy but it also ensures that the Duster is big on space and practicality. The big talking point is the enormous boot, which is much bigger than its immediate rivals and aids the luggage carrying capacity of the car.
Every member of our team also loved the Duster’s diesel engine, which is simply brilliant for refinement. It remains largely muted even when you rev the motor hard. In fact, our HR-head, who had borrowed the car for a fortnight couldn’t believe that he was actually driving a diesel. He only figured it at the fuel pump, when he stopped to refuel.
What we like?
Adding to the sense of refinement is the fact that the diesel engine starts responding from a relatively low 1,500-1,600rpm. This relatively responsive nature of the engine means that it feels like a petrol to drive and you won’t have to rev it hard unlike other rivals to get it going.
Another major highlight is the brilliant ride comfort on offer. No matter what kind of surface you take the Duster on, the car simply glides over it with complete aplomb. Battered up roads, rumble strips, expansion joints simply cause no problems for the car. Highway stability is good too. But what most testers noted was the consistent fuel economy. No matter how much traffic you face, the Duster delivers around 15-16kpl with the aircon on in the city. On the highway things improve with an economy figure in excess of 17kpl.
What could be better?
We are using the AMT-automatic version of the car. While this is a hassle-free and no nonsense way of motoring around town, the AMT itself could be improved. The shifts have a certain jerkiness about them and when on the move, the shift pattern is a bit slow, both up and down. Another minor irritant is the touchscreen infotainment system. It is lazy to operate and the menus and submenus aren’t the crispest. In isolation it’s not that bad, but only when you compare it with rivals, including the Ford Ecosport.
Overall, we are delighted with the Duster. Its strong blend of SUV looks, hatchback fuel economy and solid build quality ensure it is one of the best compact SUVs out there. Watch out for more reports here as we continue with our long term test.