There are plenty of options available now if you are in the market for a petrol-powered mid-size SUV. And, if you can look beyond the current favourite Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos duo, there's another pair of siblings that will catch your attention. The Renault Duster and the Nissan Kicks.
Besides, there's a good reason why you should take a look at these two. Especially, if more power and turbocharging are what you are looking for. These are amongst the most powerful turbo-powered petrol SUVs on sale in India. We shall draw an analogy between the two, and this comparison should help you decide which one to choose.
Since we are talking about power, let's get straight to the heart of these two bad boys. The joint project of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance along with Daimler developed an HR13 turbo-petrol engine, which is this 1.3-litre four-cylinder mill seen under the hood of both these SUVs. This turbocharged petrol engine with direct-injection produces 154bhp and 254Nm of torque. And as compared to the naturally-aspirated powerplants, this one's a cracker! Thankfully, none of these SUVs is a slouch, lag is minimal, and the turbo power has brought in the much-needed zest to push these big SUVs. These are available with an automatic transmission, but the ones we've tested are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. It's a pretty good experience on their own and though our V-Box tests can't explain that, they still can give you a testament to their straight-line performance.
The Nissan Kicks sets off from a standstill to reach 60kmph in 5.07 seconds, and clocks 100kmph in 10.24 seconds. On the other hand, the Duster had an advantage as we could manually switch off its traction control to allow a little bit of slip. And, it did scamper ahead to sprint from 0-60kmph in 4.76 seconds and achieve the 0-100kmph run in 9.71 seconds.
|Performance (CarWale Tested)||Renault Duster Turbo MT||Nissan Kicks Turbo MT|
|0-60kmph||4.76 seconds||5.07 seconds|
|0-100kmph||9.71 seconds||10.24 seconds|
Now, our roll-on tests are a great measure for drivability and to prove that the turbo-power has given a new lease of life to these SUVs. There's considerable pulling power, all thanks to the new variable geometry turbocharger and our in-gear acceleration times reflect this. Let's take a look at the Nissan first. It took 9.41 seconds to achieve the 20-80kmph roll-on test in third gear, and 12.51 seconds to complete the 40-100kmph run in fourth gear. The Renault again put up slightly better timing by completing the 20-80kmph sprint in third gear in 9.28 seconds and the 40-100kmph test in fourth gear in 11.52 seconds.
|Performance (CarWale Tested)||Renault Duster Turbo MT||Nissan Kicks Turbo MT|
|20-80kmph||9.28 seconds||9.41 seconds|
|40-100kmph||11.52 seconds||12.51 seconds|
We couldn't complete our real-world fuel efficiency test cycle with these SUVs in the short span of time they were with us. Still, we have the official claimed figures to give you an estimate of how much range these SUVs with a fuel tank capacity of 50litres each can provide. The Kicks Turbo has an ARAI-rated fuel economy of 15.8kmpl, while the Duster Turbo is rated at 16.5kmpl.
|INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS||Renault Duster||Nissan Kicks|
Now let's get to the interior space of these two. You know they say, 'If something ain't broke, don't fix it'. This statement stands true in the case of the Duster as its cabin layout and space remains unchanged since its inception. And for a good reason, as there's plenty of space in the front, in fact, more than the Kicks. And though both SUVs provide the same headroom, the Duster has a fairly wider shoulder room making even the healthiest of individuals feel quite comfortable inside. That said, the Kicks still does match up to the space.
|Second row measurements||Renault Duster||Nissan Kicks|
|Ideal legroom (100 front)||710||680|
|Seat base length||470||470|
However, step into the second row of the Kicks and it has quite comfortable seats providing adequate comfort like in the Duster. But I'd like to point out that the Kicks’ faux leather upholstery does enhance the feel and look on the inside. However, the sloping roofline does limit the headspace. Meanwhile, that's not the case in the Duster and even the additional shoulder room makes things quite roomy for the passengers in its second row. And even though the knee-room is almost similar to that of the Kicks, the sense of space is more in the Duster thanks to the higher ideal legroom.
|Boot (with 2nd row up)||Renault Duster||Nissan Kicks|
|Loading lip height||770||730|
|Boot space (Claimed)||475 litres||400 litres|
Both the SUVs have a fairly squared off boot-space that will easily gobble up weekend luggage for four or even five occupants. This includes a full-sized hard shell trunk, two mid-sized ones, and still space left for soft luggage and smaller items. There are numerous possibilities in which the baggage can be arranged. Also, there's no wheel arches intrusion so your bags fit in neatly. What's more, the spare wheel can be lowered down to the ground instead of getting it out of the boot.
A few changes or updates are always refreshing and that's what Renault has done with the Duster facelift, which now gets this turbo option as well. It is available in three trim levels with a manual gearbox. The base RXE variant does miss out on the chrome grille, projector headlamps, DRLs, etc., but still gets dual airbags, reverse parking sensors, and a speed-sensing and impact sensing door unlock. On the other hand, the top-spec RXZ trim gets more features like an eight-inch touchscreen, auto climate control, cabin pre-cooling via remote, a fuel-saving engine stop-start system, hill-start assist, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Kicks, on the other hand, packs in quite a lot of equipment as compared to the Duster. And be it for the instrument cluster or the touch screen infotainment system, Nissan has provided a much better kit than Renault. Its entry-level trim is equipped with automatic climate control, rear AC vents, two 12V power outlets, electrically adjustable ORVMs, remote key, LED DRLs, etc. In terms of safety features too, it gets impact sensing and speed-sensing auto door unlock, a rear defogger, rear parking sensors, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, and dual airbags. Then, the top-of-the-line XV Premium optional dual-tone variant gets additional equipment like Nissan Connect, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, follow-me-home headlamps, front fog lamps with cornering function, and a rear fog lamp. Then there’s black and brown upholstery with leather seats, a leather-wrapped soft-touch dashboard, and a segment-first 360-degree camera. Similarly, for the safety suite, side airbags, Vehicle Stability Management, ESC, and Traction control are also available. Sadly, none of these gets an auto-dimming IRVM and you have to switch it manually.
Now you must have got an idea of how different yet similar these SUVs are. There's no doubt these force-induction iterations have lend the SUVs quite an impressive performance, especially when it comes to the engine's response at low rpm. They're equally fun to drive on the highway as they are within the city. Now for the variant-wise on-road pricing in Mumbai, both carmakers have further positioned these turbo-petrol ones higher than the respective naturally-aspirated ones.
The Kicks misses out on the XL entry-level trim in this turbo model, and starts from XV Turbo priced at Rs 14.67 lakh. Its mid-spec XV Pre Turbo will cost Rs 15.72 lakh, while the top-of-the-line XV Pre Optional Turbo, and in a dual-tone colour, retails at Rs 17.12 lakh.
For the Duster, its base RXE turbo variant is priced at Rs 13.34 lakh, mid-spec RXS at Rs 14.28 lakh, and the top-spec RXZ turbo manual trim at Rs 14.98 lakh.
So now you know, if you have set a budget of 15 lakh rupees, it’s the Duster for you. And, if you have the provision of extension, then you might be able to consider the top-spec Kicks too. After all, a price north of Rs 17 lakh gets decent safety features and most of the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern age car. It also offers a wider variant line-up, feature list, and even higher number of connected car systems.
But then, I still believe the Duster nameplate has a sentimental value for Duster owners and will appeal to the buyers who still love that old school look and feel. Yes, Duster's interior might have started to show its age, but the SUV is certainly not past its prime. Of course, the next-gen Duster should take this proposition on to a new level. However, for the ones who love driving, just get behind the wheel of the Renault Duster to know how it feels. You'll look no further and yes, save some of your money as well!