The Duster CVT uses a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol motor that makes 106bhp and 142Nm, lugging the 1160kg kerb weight, and is matched to an inoffensive CVT gearbox. In terms of performance this engine has a good midrange, pulling well around the 3,000rpm mark. However, this also means that one has to keep the Duster on the boil while darting into traffic gaps or overtaking at high speeds. Thankfully, the engine makes up for the restrained low-end with its refined nature as its hardly audible under regular driving. Thanks to the CVT, the power delivery is incredibly linear and thankfully, there is less of the typical rubber-band effect wherein there is a sharp rise in engine revs in proportion to the gain in momentum.
If you love driving and are the kind who wants strong performance out of your car, the Duster CVT isn’t for you. This engine honestly feels like it’s gasping under heavy throttle or while going uphill. Sure, it will maintain highway speeds all day long and get you from A to B but it’s not an inspiring motor. The CVT, too, despite having a manual mode, is no firecracker but as far as the shifts are concerned, they are incredibly smooth and barely perceptible.
As for the ride and handling, this petrol version is the same as the rest of the Duster range which is a good thing. The steering feel is light and progressive, only a little loose on-centre. Too bad that three-spoke wheel still judders when taking corners at high speeds. Renault says they have worked on reducing the juddering; however, it’s still there and would probably prove to be unnerving for some drivers. No such groaning when it comes to the ride quality as the Duster simply manages to hover across bad roads. Yes, it is slightly stiffer than its rivals but the trade-off to this is that the Duster feels a lot more solid when going through median bumps and potholes. Unlike some cars wherein you have to take caution while going over rough roads, you really can plough through in the Duster without second thoughts, the whole suspension is that solid.