According to appearance, Mahindra XUV and Renault Duster is positioned somewhere between a crossover and an SUV. But we will call it an SUV here as they have maintained that kind of image in the Indian market.
The year 2012 seems to be the year of SUVs. 2012 had seen the two most significant launches i.e. Mahindra XUV 500 and Renault Duster. If we will go by the figures, then XUV will be the ultimate winner. It has fetched 35,000 customers to the showroom since one year from the launch. But we cannot term the Duster as a loser. It has also done a significant job for Renault. It had helped the French carmaker to set foot in India. The Duster is the bread and butter of Renault. Duster aka Dacia is being called the cheapest SUV in the Europe, priced at 10,000 Euros.
In India, the Duster is priced at 11.39 lakhs while the XUV at 13.18 lakhs. All the prices are Ex-showroom Delhi.
We are comparing the 2WD version of XUV because the Duster doesn’t come with AWD system. We have got our hands on the high end version of both the cars i.e. W6 for XUV and RxZ for Duster.
Both the SUVs sport tough looks. At the front Duster sport squared looks. This helped headlamps to gain maximum space of the front. Chromed front grilles and Renault’s (chromed) logo being placed at the centre gives Duster a rigid and built-to-last impression. The larger wheel arches, descent roofrails along with the wider body makes Duster more attractive and sophisticated from the front. The taillamps are also well done. However, the door handles are not up to the mark. They look a bit outdated.
On the other hand, XUV exterior seems more refined than the Scorpio. It looks more macho and a bit futuristic as well. On seeing XUV one can form an image of a cheetah staring at him, which is seen in all of its advertisements. Proportionate wheel arches add some sportiness to it. The rear is perfectly designed which Mahindra had incidentally forgotten to include in the Scorpio. In fact we like the rear more than the front. The vertical taillamps and the tilted roof at the end make the XUV a clear winner at the rear. Last but not the least, door handles of XUV seems to be inspired by the Cheetah’s paw. It is one of the innovative features which Mahindra has added to the XUV.
Overall, the looks of the Duster appeals to us more than the XUV. The Duster looks more clean and clear while the black detailing at the front made us a bit disappointed on the Mahindra XUV 500 part. But the Indian customers tend to like Cheetah more than the French stud.
Interior is that part where customer actually feels the car. On opening the doors, real pictures of both cars were in front of us. XUV offers a third row seating option and in other words it can be said that it can accommodate 7 persons at a time. On the other hand, Duster offers only two row seating feature i.e. five persons seating capacity. Mahindra offers foldable third row seating arrangement which can be converted to boot, when folded. XUV offers a 703 liter boot space (when third row folded) while the Duster offers a mere 475 liter only. Duster also offers a parcel tray which helps to obstruct additional luggage from peeping out through the window. Both of the vehicles come with a foldable second row feature as well. Though this feature is rarely used but is useful at sometimes.
The second row seating arrangement is good enough in Duster as compared to XUV. In XUV a person has to face glitches while moving out of the car. The reason is that XUV offers the third row seating arrangement. But in Duster this isn’t the case. We mention that Duster is made with clear intention of SUV while XUV is made to suit the Indian market more.
One thing which did not appeal to use in the Renault Duster is the second row AC vents. It is good, but is placed at the centre of the floor in second row. It takes away all the comfort and legroom from the third person who is sitting in the middle. I can say that only a child will be able to sit comfortably and not an adult.
The driver’s seat in Duster is uncomfortable but in XUV it is made perfect. We felt that driving XUV for a long distance will not be a problem. Though the ground clearance is more in Duster but XUV feels better in driving seat.
Talking about AC, Duster offers HVAC. It cools the cabin faster as compared to XUV. AC vents in XUV Is also placed efficiently. Even last benchers will not complain about the cooling because there are AC vents placed at the rear pillars too.
Mahindra comes fully loaded in terms of feature. It offers Touch screen LCD at the centre, car information system, automatic headlights and wipers and climate control. The Duster doesn’t offer so much on the features part.
While both the cars come with standard features of USB/aux-ready audio player, Bluetooth telephone function, steering-mounted controls, reverse parking sensors, keyless entry and dual airbags in the high-end version, which I feel, is enough for the price tag of Duster.
The dashboard of Duster looks very sophisticated and the plastic quality is excellent. Plastic used in XUV is of very cheap standard. It doesn’t goes at any point with features it provides. Glove box in XUV is too good. It is divided into two parts. You don’t have to take your legs backward to open the glove box. You can use open the upper half of it with your legs stretched.
Our take on the interiors is that the XUV is built taking Indian market into consideration, while the Duster is giving a lot at that cost, except the seating space (as per the Indian market). XUV should have used better quality plastic for dashboard to get customer’s delight feedback. But not to worry, you can make it yourself by shelling out some extra money. While the plastic quality is not a big drawback on seeing the features that XUV is providing.
XUV is powered by a 2.2 liter ‘mHawk’ engine mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The same engine is used in the Scorpio as well. M Hawk yields a power of 142PS (140 bhp and 104 KW) and a torque of 330 Nm @1600-2800 rpm. It zips from 0-100 kmph in 12.5 seconds and attain a top whack of 175kmph. It yields a fuel efficiency of 12kmpl (overall) when tested. It owns a 70 liter fuel tank.
On the other hand Duster sport a 1.5 liter dCi engine combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. It yields a power of 110 PS and 248 Nm of Torque @ 1800-2250 rpm. It swoops from 0-100kmph in 11.88 seconds yielding a fuel efficiency of 12.75kmpl (overall). It can store only 50 liters of fuel to the fullest.
Drive and performance:
Both the vehicles are mated with 6-speed manual gearboxes which are quite heavy. But the driving experience of Duster is much better than XUV within city limits. It’s because Duster is lighter by 669 kg (gross weight) than XUV. And that’s not it, the max torque of 248 Nm @ just 1800rpm helps to move swiftly on city roads.
The heavy kerb weight than Duster plays a spoilsport for XUV (in city). But the XUV gains more points on Highway. Its massive 330 Nm of torque @ a lesser 1600 rpm which stays till 2800 rpm proves it a Cheetah on highways. The sporty ergonomics of XUV gains more advantage on turns and twists than the boxy-designed Duster. But I can say that Duster finds itself comfortable in the tight parking spots because of boxy design while the XUV has to struggle a lot.
Renault Duster suspension system is much better than XUV. Duster gobbles up everything whatever thrown at it. Both of the vehicles share the same front MacPherson struts but at the rear Duster sport a torsion bar setup while XUV’s rear is based on the sophisticated multi link setup. Duster moves swiftly over the broken Indian tarmac but XUV do it with a lot of bumps. Steering control of XUV is worst on the broken paths.
Experiencing both the cars from corner to corner we came to the conclusion that one of them stands at value for money and the other one at good ride quality for a lesser price.
XUV offers a great line of features. It also offers rugged looks complementing off-roader as well. It does provide ‘Status’ quotient which Indians expect on buying a car. However the ride quality is not up to the mark but Cheetah has snatched many customers in the showroom.
Duster offers a good ride quality at very affordable price tag. We also admit that it doesn’t offer so high-end features like that of XUV but you can do it yourself by spending extra bucks on it. Yet there will be still one important thing which the Duster’s owner will miss all the time i.e. 7-seater capacity.
In India people will manage some of the bumpy rides, if given more space. But with Duster you can flaunt sophistication and a world renowned brand name of Renault which is missing in Mahindra XUV 500. Duster is one of the successful running SUVs in Europe while the XUV has done the same in India.
Technical specifications at a glance:
Duster XUV 500
Price 11.39 lakhs 13.18 lakhs
Engine 1461 cc
Turbo dsl, 4cyl
turbo dsl, 4cyl
Power 110PS 140PS
Torque 248Nm@1800 330Nm@1600
Gearbox 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
Type front wheel front wheel
Fuel Economy 12.75 kmpl 12kmpl
0-100kmph 11.88 secs 12.5 secs