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Variant of the Year: Renault Duster AWD

Renault gave the Duster everything it needed: more features, and real off-road ability

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A lot of good things were to happen in 2014. A lot of folks hoped Narendra Modi would become our Prime Minister; we had our fingers crossed when ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission neared its destination, and a lot of us saved up to buy the ridiculously-priced iPhone 6.

Mr Modi did become the PM; the Mars Orbiter successfully entered the red planet’s orbit, and the iPhone 6 is, despite costing as much as a Honda Activa 125, a super hit. But, there was something equally anticipated by compact SUV fans.

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What NaMo is to Indian politics, Mangalyaan to ISRO and iPhone 6 to, er, rich brats, the Renault Duster AWD is to compact SUV buyers. Our obsession with SUVs - and more recently, with compact SUVs - is well-known. And, with this off-road-ready avatar, the Duster line-up in India is complete. Come to think of it, it was the only thing missing in a product as strong as the Duster.

The all-wheel-drive mechanism gave it the tools to not only fight bigger SUVs, but also the wherewithal to venture out into the wild. The Duster AWD can do some serious off-roading. It also has features that improve the overall experience, like a better quality interior, improved suspension, and a lighter clutch.

No other variant in 2014 garnered as much interest as the Duster AWD. Not surprisingly, it gets our Variant of the Year award.

(Words: Devesh Shobha, Photos: Parag Parelkar)

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