By on July 15, 2012

My last post on TTAC was on the Renault Logan, but the vehicle pictured above, also a Romanian derived Dacia, is one that changed Renault’s fortunes in India overnight. After the Logan was licensed to Mahindra, Renault re-started its India innings with the launch of the Fluence and Koleos in 2011. The French automaker launched a re-badged Nissan Micra (called the Pulse) earlier this year. Renault’s monthly sales after the launch of these three cars revolved around 400 odd units, which equates to an yearly figure of around 5000 units. This gives them a 0.24% market share in India and places them in 13th position.

Earlier this month, Renault India launched the Duster, positioning it as a compact SUV. The Duster is offered with three engines, 1.6-litre petrol which produces 104 PS and the 1.5-litre k9k diesel in two sets of tune – 85 PS and 110 PS. All the engines are mated to a manual gearbox and Renault has tweaked the interiors (added beige inserts) slightly to give them a premium appeal. Prices start at Rs. 7.19 lakhs ($13000) and goes all the way upto Rs. 11.29 lakhs ($20434). These prices are ex-showroom and not inclusive of registration, road tax and insurance costs. So, yes the Duster does look a bit overpriced, considering it is highly localized and India is an export base for the right hand drive Duster.

However, the SUV loving Indians have taken to the Duster like a storm. The vehicle received 4000 bookings on launch day itself and 8000 bookings within a week. As I write this post, Renault has managed to get 10000 bookings for the Duster. That is more than what Renault has sold in the last twelve months in India. Getting inside a Renault dealership is not an easy task, as its crowded like a fish market. Every prospective buyer wants the Duster. There is no alternative to the vehicle and Renault can continue to make hay while the sun shines. The real competitor to the Duster comes in the form of the Ford EcoSport in 2013.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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28 Comments on “Renault Duster Captures India...”

  • avatar
    Adrian Roman

    Yep, the Duster is a hit. In its home country – Romania – it managed to sell better than the Logan in Febnruary this year. No mean feat, as the Logan has always been the top seller since its introduction 8 years ago.

    Would be interesting to know which version is most sought after by the Indian buyers: diesel or gasoline, 2WD or 4WD.

  • avatar

    India is a developing market and all that, but, OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE!!! That is one absurdly ugly car and the tacked on Volkswagen Amarokesque front is so fugly it defies logic and perhaps physics.

  • avatar

    It looks pretty good for a 13K SUV. This is aimed for the developing world after all.

  • avatar

    It does not look too bad…It seems like good value for $13k.
    Are both the right hand and left hand drive versions manufactured in Romania?

    • 0 avatar
      Adrian Roman

      Nope, the ones manufatured in Romania are only left hand drive and badged as a Dacia, for sale in Europe. The ones for India will be built in country, at Chennai.

    • 0 avatar

      Due to high taxes and even higher margins, in Brazil the car atarts at over 25k USD. And that’s for the paintless bumper and hubless wheel version, which is fleet only. THe real consumer is paying something like 27.5USD for theirs (sans registration, licensing fees and insurance, that’ll will add on almost another 5K usd.)

  • avatar

    I guess it’s all in the right product. Sometimes a product just captures people’s imagination and sell like hotcakes, regardless of everything else. What does the Duster compete against in India? Are the price similar to its competition? I suspect it might’ve had the same success in Indonesia if it can be sold for the same price, as it’s lower than even Chinese-made SUVs (Chery Tiggo), and far less than the Japanese ones.

    • 0 avatar

      There is no competition yet. The first generation Daihatsu Terios is sold as the Premier Rio, which retails for almost $5000 lesser than the Duster. The other competition is the Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Safari and the XUV500.

    • 0 avatar

      India and BRazil are coming closer and closer. Here, the main competitor is the Ford EcoSport. But the Ford is more expensive. The Chery is also offered but there are very few takers. When Renault launched the Duster it outsold the EcoSport and I guess it still does as the EcoSport is a bit long in the tooth and was more expensive,. It’ll be interesting to see now that the all-new EcoSport has just been launched and is much more modern looking than the Duster. Pricing however will determine the winner.

  • avatar

    i would say its ugly but it has a certain cheeky charm

    you’d be hard pressed to say that any current Subaru is good looking (bar the brz)

    same thing

    it has a ultilitarian ruggedness

    i’d say its a winner… what other 4WD small compact car is there

    if you cruise youtube you’ll see that the car looks reasonably well appointed and no worse than more expensive western hatches

    sure it doesn’t match a Cruze for example for interior build but its more than acceptable for that it is

    priced sensibly i’d say it’d sell a storm in the west (I realise the UK and Western Europe has it already)

    • 0 avatar

      Tony, it does not have 4-wheel drive. The Cruze is more expensive at around $28000.

      • 0 avatar

        Faisal, this being a largely Western English speaking site, most of us speak with a Western bias.

        The closest car we have in the west is the Nissan Quaskhai which has similarities being a small SUV with a part time 4wd system

        it is under $25,000 usd in most places

        where i am the Cruze is around $20,000 usd and of course well under that in the US. This represents probably some of the best interior build quality you can get for the money.

        It would be my expectation that the 4wd Duster would be under $20,000 usd to be competitive.

        So from my expectations IF Renault were to sell this in the West, I would expect it to compete with the above cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Tony, the US market is more competitive on pricing. Here in India, the Cruze is assembled (not manufactured) which results in higher prices. The Duster has to shrug off local competition from the Mahindras and Tatas till its real competitor, the Ford EcoSport arrives (in 2013).

  • avatar

    “have taken to the Duster like a storm”


    Anyways it’s interesting to see how huge a success a product can be in just the right market, though I suppose India makes a better market case for SUVs and similar vehicles than the U.S does. So really this is probably one of the few cases where some one buying a SUV actually DOES make more sense.

  • avatar

    This has just gone on sale under the Dacia brand in the UK. The basic 2wd model is £8,995 (~$14,000). This is insanely cheap compared to the competition – the Nissan Qashqai starts at £16,595 (~$26,000) and even a base model Fiesta with 1.25 litre engine runs at £10,000 ($15,500). Obviously the Duster is rather basic in terms of spec, but it’s a lot of car for the money in this market.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t look that bad. The grille and headlights are a bit weird, but given the apparent popularity of the Juke and Qashqai in their respective markets weird isn’t necessarily bad for everyone.

    I think it would do OK in the US market if you give it a Nissan grille and headlight treatment. Give it the Juke’s driveline and sell it to those who want something this size but not the amphibious looks of the Juke. Call it the Axxess or X-trail or something Nissan-ish from other markets since Fiat could throw a fit over the “Duster” use.

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