The Renault Duster has been one of the country's most popular and bestselling SUVs. In many ways Renault claims to have established the compact Ute space really - because it did see a massive explosion of volume when the Duster first drove in to India in 2012. Since then Renault has brought us the AWD variant, introduced a touchscreen nav option, launched a major facelift in 2016 and also the Duster AMT automatic variant. And now the automatic story will go further with a refined and advanced CVT joining the pack in a few weeks' time. "We are launching the all-new petrol Duster with CVT, so we bring automation there also." says Sumit Sawhney, Country Head and CEO, Renault India.
The petrol Duster may not have been the one driving sales ever at Renault India, but it will be the petrol Duster to get the CVT. Continuously Variable Transmissions or CVTs are better suited to petrol engines anyway - and we have had several CVT models gain popularity in India. Honda has had the most success with CVT on its City, Jazz and CR-V. The Maruti Suzuki Baleno also has a CVT gearbox and in the past Renault too had the Scala and Fluence sedans with a CVT option.
The CVT gearbox will be different from the one on the Fluence. Now it has to be noted that in other markets the automatic Duster is only available with an EDC (Efficient Dual-Clutch) gearbox. But it seems that bringing that configuration would have made the car too pricey. The petrol Duster comes with the 1.6 litre K4M engine with 102 bhp and 148 Nm of peak torque. It is currently available in 2WD and 5-Speed manual gearbox only. However, there'll be a new petrol engine on offer, a 1.6 litre H4K, and it will come mated to the CVT. Renault will launch the car in May 2017 and it is likely to be offer the petrol CVT in the RxL and RxZ trims - so expect a fully loaded package. We expect this combination of engine and gearbox to make its way into the Kaptur in India.
Renault feels it is important to expand the petrol offerings in its portfolio given a number of buyers have started to gravitate away from oil burners. The recent focus on diesel engines and emission norms has brought about an increase in enquiries for petrol models. Having a CVT on board will not only mean offering petrol buyers the ease of automatic but will also guarantee greater fuel efficiency than a conventional automatic. The manual Duster currently claims mileage at 13.06 kmpl. Expect that figure to climb closer to 14 kmpl with the CVT.
Besides the Duster CVT Renault is also going to offer another variant on the Kwid - after already launching the Climber version. Sawhney says, "We have more excitement in Kwid and a brand new product which we are currently targeting around festival time." The all-new product from Renault is largely expected to be the Kaptur crossover. This is the larger than the European Captur and unlike that car which shares a platform with the Clio hatchback, the Kaptur sits on the Duster's platform.