The Renault Duster made a huge impact in the Indian market when it was launched. It opened up a whole new segment of premium but affordable urban SUVs with a fair bit of off-road ability. Before the Duster, Nissan was always the first to introduce a product after which the French company would rework the styling and sell it as a rebadged Renault. This time, it was Nissan's turn (with the Terrano) to rework a Renault product and it rebadged the Duster. So what is the difference between the two SUVs, you might ask? Read on:
Renault Duster and Nissan are the same, yet quite different
The best description for the Duster's styling is overtly muscular. Right from the stout face to the oversized wheel arches to the strong looking rear end, this is a compact SUV that looks like it's been reared on a steady diet of anabolic steroids. The car looks brawny and ready for a fight but considerable use of chrome sobers down the aggression a bit.
Nissan has done an excellent job of making the Terrano look more than just a hacked facelift, and the SUV does a good job of carrying the de rigueur Nissan SUV look. Every panel on the body is new except for the roof and rear quarter panel. That three segment grille with the thin and angular headlamps echoes the design of bigger SUVs like the iconic patrol. The angular theme continues at the back with smart and fully functional tail lamps. The side profile is most reminiscent of the Duster but even here the doors have been redesigned while the B and C pillars get a blacked out treatment.
The Duster's interiors echo the rounded theme of the exteriors with circular airvents and rounded off edges around the centre console. The cabin is spacious, but the driver's seat has a tendency to rock back and forth slightly under braking. The mock wood finish on the central arm rests look a little tacky but build quality on the inside is up to par.
At first the interiors look very similar but a closer look shows a refreshed centre console and there's a new audio system with better feeling buttons. The centre air vents are now more rectangular and trimmed with some chrome garnish. There's also a new closable stowage area above the air vents. The faux wood on the door trim gets a darker grey shade and looks much classier. The steering wheel is new but very similar in feel and there are no steering mounted audio controls on offer. Besides that everything, from the seats to the rear aircon vents, is the same.
The Duster comes with the choice of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel. The petrol produces 104PS while the diesel gives you two power output options - 85PS/200Nm and 110PS/248Nm. The engine produces great torque with minimal lag while the 110PS is mated to a six speed transmission. The top end diesel is also very efficient, returning an overall figure of 15.9kmpl.
Ride quality is the Duster's forte and it handles our poor roads with ease. While there is body roll, it is contained very well and the Duster is a surprisingly able handler. The electronic steering does have a tendency to snap back if the car hits a bump mid-corner which can reduce the fun factor a little bit. The Duster's engine might be good on efficiency and power but it does sound quite clattery. NVH levels on the inside, though, are quite reasonable.
We felt the Terrano had very good NVH and there was a big reduction in noise when we shut the doors. That could be down to the fact that the doors have been redesigned and feature better noise dampening.
Nissan lists 96 dealers and service centres on their website, while Renault lists 122 dealerships and service centres on their website. The Duster price range starts at Rs 7.69 lakh and goes up to Rs 11.49 lakh. We expect Nissan to price the Terrano about Rs 50-70,000 more than the corresponding Duster model.
The Terrano will definitely appeal to someone who's looking for a compact SUV but finds the Duster's design a little too common. The Terrano is a good-looking SUV, but we've no objection to the Duster's styling whatsoever. The Terrano doesn't give you any added features over the Duster despite the extra dough. So prima facie, the Duster comes out trumps, but only a more exhaustive on-road comparison (and price information) will finally settle the matter.