The Renault Duster 1.3 MT needed some highway real estate to stretch its legs, and a family event offered the opportunity, for a trip to Uttarakhand.
It’s been a few months since the Renault Duster 1.3 MT was acquired, so mileage (odometer mileage, not fuel consumption) is low. A family milestone, in the form of the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law, offered up the opportunity for a get-together. After several back and forth discussions, it was decided to head out to the outskirts of Corbett National Park, to spend a couple of days, and ring in the occasion with the better half’s ‘la familia.’ The Renault Duster 1.3 turbo petrol (manual) I had acquired a few months earlier was looking for exactly such an opportunity, to stretch its legs.
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The wife’s parents were to be our passengers, and we set out on the 270-odd kilometre one-way trip relatively early. By around 6:30 am on the first day, we hit the road and the wide open highway, with some diversions here and there, offered the perfect terrain to check out the Duster’s mile-munching capability. A road trip is just what the Duster is made for, with taut handling and comfortable ride quality; although I’d wager that the old 16-inch wheels with higher profile tyres offer even better ride quality than the 17-inch wheels of my Duster 1.3 MT RXZ. The lower-spec variants still come with the 16-inch wheels, but miss out on some essential standard equipment. Nevertheless, it still is a comfortable vehicle, and without any complaint from my passengers, we covered the kilometres. In the plains, the Duster returned best fuel economy (FE) figures of 15 kmpl, with maximum speed limited to 110-120 kmph for a few bursts. But some spirited driving sees the FE fall dramatically.
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After a quick stop for some tea and snacks, we eventually entered the lush green foothills of the Kumaon Himalayas, bordering the town of Ramnagar, and the Corbett National Park. By the time we reached Mohaan, the closest village to the resort, it was almost 1 pm. The road up to the resort is strictly for 4×4 vehicles only. In the right hands, a two-wheel drive will make it, but I didn’t want to subject the relatively new Duster to some off-road torture, particularly when the resort’s choice to ferry guests for the last 3 km stretch up a rocky path on the hill were all 4x4s.
After a morning walk in the woods adjoining the resort the next day, we decided to head out for a drive, up the hills, to see if the weather permitted a view of the greater Himalayan range. But clouds had covered the view, although the drive was quite nice, with smooth tarmac, minimal traffic and twisty roads. But fuel consumption increased with some spirited driving in the hills, and I saw a worst fuel economy figure of 9.5 kmpl, with the average still hovering around 10.5-11 kmpl. After spending two days in the lap of nature, it was time to head back.
The Renault Duster 1.3 MT was my choice for a few reasons. Good ride quality, tight turning radius, decent handling, and a peppy turbocharged engine which offers enough punch to keep things entertaining, if asked for. There’s cruise control for boring highway stretches (although I seldom used it), AppleCarPlay, and most everything one could ask for. The only drawback, in my book, is the lack of cubby holes, for four passengers, particularly without any storage space on the inside of the rear doors. But for our kind of usage, with mostly two people on board, it still offered the best value. And for the kind of driving we would be using it, and over the kind of terrain, it still offers a solid, stable package. The Renault Duster may look a little dated, but delivers all the goodies that a driver’s car should have. Can’t wait to head out for another drive up, maybe a little higher up in the mountains the next time around.