Duster vs XUV Cross-Segment Fight

Some comparisons are not so obvious and hence in an ideal world shouldn’t have seen the day of light.

Duster vs XUV: Cross-Segment Fight


Some comparisons are not so obvious and hence in an ideal world shouldn’t have seen the day of light. But then we must remember that our cosmos is far from ideal and once you are out in the market, you can’t just avoid these prejudices. For years critics have been comparing the Amitabh Bachchan with Shah Rukh Khan despite of the fact that there exists no common basis of comparison. So even when these big personalities can’t escape the keen eyes of observers how the less-similar but widely-different Duster and XUV could have slipped silently without getting caught in the compare-net of ecardlr. Even though the Mahindra and Renault have targeted their vehicles for different layers of SUV category, we observed that this attempt has failed to bring any abating signs in their sales rivalry. The Uncanny correlation in sales rise of Duster with the decline in buyers of XUV is manifestation that although targeted to a lower segment Renault’s Duster has indeed eaten out some of the potential buyers of XUV. Also the strong and continuous affinity of customers towards the Duster despite of the overall weak sentiments prevailing in industry is an indication of the growing clout of Duster in the market.   So what has indeed made a Duster to strike such a rhythmic chord with the urban masses?  Is it only the lower price and urban-size practicality that is playing a pivotal role in Duster’s growth or XUV has finally started to lose its sheen with the buyers? Although sales figures of both these vehicles in the coming months will make the picture clearer, we as of now decided to pit these two formidable inter-class rivals against each other to find an ideal vehicle for our not-so-ideal world.


Xuv5oo is something that is hard to believe of its Indian origin. In terms of design and styling, XUV has set a new benchmark by crashing all the previous ones. It has changed our perception that SUVs’ can’t look stylish and has to be either macho or brute in nature. Mahindra’s engineers have indeed done a stellar job by seamlessly blending the robustness with subtle feminine quotient.

Large honeycomb grill with lots of cuts and creases give it a whole new different look. Inspiration from the Cheetah has seem to be exaggerated a bit when we notice the claw-type door handles but that shows a little bit of obsession of design theme which is a good thing. In profile, XUV maintains its macho character with wheel arches and strong character lines just above the rear wheel arches. Rear too got the required attention and this time Mahindra doesn’t make the Xylo’s mistake. With a strong power bulge XUV completes its design inspiration and it does make a very commanding as well as adorable first impression. 

On the other side, Renault has adopted a much simplified approach and went to design the Duster with a laid-back attitude. However that doesn’t mean Duster is not a proper looking SUV. In fact its muscular wheel-arches along with raised toe-stance give it a quite confident look on the road. In comparison to XUV Duster might look a bit plain and bland design but still it has certain youth and macho appeal that has actually gone a long way in ensuring its commercial success. Tall stance and generous wind screens also enhances its practicality which is already a big plus for this compact SUV. Roof rails adds the sporty touch to the overall design though the windows could be larger to enhance the inside space feeling.
On dimensions front XUV easily win hands down as it has bigger sheer volume that the Duster. Not only it is taller and wider than Duster but seating capacity of XUV allows you to sit 7 passengers with the provisions of 3 rows of seat while Duster in all variants offers only two rows with maximum carrying ability of 5 passengers.

XUV5oo: *****                                                 DUSTER: *****


With the provision of three row of seats XUV is quite confident to win this round easily by pushing the Duster to the wall however Duster has some another plan. Despite of having lengthier dimensions, XUV doesn’t score that well in space and comfort as we would have anticipated. Addition of third row has although enhanced the seating capacity although it is too cramped to make an adult sit there comfortably. The bench is good only for the kids and that boils down the space comparison to first two rows. We find that the front row of the Duster is more comfortable and there is loads of room available. Although space in plenty is also on offer in XUV still the comfort factor of Duster is wee bit more than XUV. Middle row of both the vehicles are comfortable though in Duster the oddly placed rear air con vents intrudes with the available space for middle passenger. Seats are well bolstered in XUV than Duster; offering a good thigh support that comes handy especially in long journeys. Also the less-cluttered instrument cluster makes Duster’s dash a clean and neat one though quality-wise both vehicles are a mix-bang.

In terms of boot space, Duster clocks 475 litres of trunk area with very usable partition of parcel tray. XUV on the other hand has around 703 litres of boot once you fold the third row of seat. Both vehicles have provision to fold down the middle bench completely to further enhance their swallowing capacity. 

Ergonomically both cars have their share of short comings though Duster has some serious flaws in terms of rear air con vents that intrude into the middle passenger space as well as steering mounted audio controls which are actually behind the steering wheel. XUV although has implied enough intelligence to steer clear of these niggles, still the iffy quality and lame choice of interior colours hold this SUV from setting another benchmark in interior quality and finish. 

Overall both Duster and XUV are adequate for the family of 5 persons and if you live with your extended family than might be XUV fits you bill more than the Duster. However this extra space of XUV won’t be able to take away the excellent practicality Duster comes with. With its generous wind screen and spot-on driving position, Duster sails through the traffic like a dream while XUV feels heavy and cumbersome in comparison. 

XUV5oo: *****                                                 DUSTER: *****


With the advantage of around 700 cc, XUV seems much more powerful and performance oriented vehicle than the Duster; at least on the paper. XUV engine displaces 2.2 Litres in comparison to meek 1.5 Litres of Duster. Peak power difference settles at 32 bhp with XUV pushing out 140 PS of power while Duster churn out only 108 PS. The magnitude of difference in torque figures is even more humongous as XUV dwarfs the Duster figure by around 80 Nm. So on the paper specifications reveals that there is no match up in the performance figures of both the vehicles and XUV is far ahead of Duster but then the crucial aspect of weight comes to rescue of Renault Duster.  With weight advantage of more than half a ton (precisely 670 kg), the real world performance of Duster is not as bad as the figure suggests. Of course XUV shows an advantage in terms of refinement and drivability, the magnitude of the merit is not as high as suggested by the paper specifications. XUV is tad more drivable than Duster and feels spirited at the lower revs although Duster continuously itches for revs above 2000 rpm. After 2000 rpm, the Duster comes on its own and you can happily cruise in this mid power band all day long. Similarly XUV too gives you brisk performance in the mid range and the bigger heart makes it very good miles-muncher.

Both cars come mated with 6-speed manual transmission and both these vehicles needs to learn from their rivals about making the light diesel vehicles. Clutch of both the SUVs’ are heavy and gear shift is too far from the slick and precise. Mahindra although has done a stellar job on the aesthetic front, it fails to raise the overall level of its mechanical part. Gear lever of XUV is a bit long which further exaggerate the notchy feeling of the shift. Clogging of teeth is also not a smooth affair in Duster however it is not as bad as in XUV. Duster gearing has seems to be on higher side that leave a considerable power void at the low revolutions however both vehicles have the additional sixth gear to extract as many km as they can to a litre.

XUV5oo: *****                                                 DUSTER: *****


In terms of suspension hardware, both the vehicles use McPherson strut up front though at rear Mahindra freezes their choice on multi-link anti roll bar while Renault keeps the things simple by employing torsion beam axle. To support bigger body and weight, XUV comes with bigger 17” wheels shrouded with 235mm wide rubber however Duster feel sated with 215 mm wide tyres on 16” alloy wheels.   

Smaller dimensions, tight skinning and taut chassis tilt the scale heavily towards Duster on both ride and handling front. French automaker is far ahead of its Indian counterpart in dynamic competence as XUV left us wanting much more from it on both ride and handling aspects. Contrary to the excellent soaking ability of Duster, XUV feels edgy and unstable at almost all speeds except on the highways. Passengers can clearly feel all the undulations and road disturbances as the jerks directly filter in to the cabin. Even the mid-speed stability is far from the composed and calm ride composure shown by Duster at almost all whacks.

In a craving for corners also, Duster feels very sure footed thanks to its good grip and restricted length. XUV got the thumbs down because of its additional mass that tries to get out of the line while making quick manoeuvres.  So Duster really lives up to the expectation of sporty and youthful SUV by expressing no shocks about anything that is thrown at it.

XUV5oo: *****                                                 DUSTER: *****


Comparing both the vehicles on the value-for-money aspect doesn’t make a good judging criterion as these SUVs’ are targeted for different layers of SUV segment. A fully-equipped model of XUV is a good 2-lakh rupee dearer than Duster but then you will get a lot of extra equipments for that extra money. However an overall assessment of both the vehicles reveals that these urban SUVs’ have their own share of strengths and weaknesses. XUV is dam good looking, has powerful engine and brisk accelerating power however it lacks in the key concerns of cabin quality and more so on driving dynamics. Duster on the other hand exactly scores where XUV shows its faults. It is sportier, agile, practical and having greater value for money too.  You need not to park it a km away from your visiting place and that’s make it such a huge hit with the urban masses. The only concern that deter its buying prospects is if you conspicuously love the third row and adamant enough to have it even if will goes unused most of the time.

XUV5oo: *****                                                 DUSTER: *****

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