First-hand impression of comparison between XUV 5OO and Duster AWDfeels like drawing parallels between Apples and oranges. But then dig deep down under the skin andmany credible comparison criteria start sprouting spirally. Almost identical pricing, monocoque construction and youth-oriented appealwere some of the themes that pit these vehicles squarely against each other. And now latest to join this flashpoint list is addition of All-Wheel Drive (AWD) Duster variant that has staked claim against 4WD of XUV. Though XUV 5OO had featured optional AWD right from its inception, Duster AWD has just ushered in market of late. With this new variant addition, Renault has effectively neutralized the long-held advantage of XUVin luring hard-core off-roaders. This is however another issue that none of these two AWDs are real off-roaders as both these vehicles lack transfer case with Hi-Low ratio. Still we believe that AWD provision in both of these vehicles iscapable enough to take you places where you won’t dare to venture in ordinary cars. So which one of these two is more capable and deserves your attention as well as investment; we find through this road test comparison review.
In terms of engine displacement and performance figures, Mahindra XUV seems to be be far ahead of Duster. Mahindra XUV displaces 2.2-litre and puts out 140 PS and 330 Nm of max power and max torque respectively. In contrast Duster AWD tries to put up fight with meagre 1.5-litre dCi oil-burner that is good for 110 PS and 248 Nm. On paper XUV leads the performance chart by 30 PS and around 80 Nm though Duster has weight advantage up its sleeve. In terms of gross vehicle weight, Duster AWD is 400 kg lighter and that makes it quite zippy in real-world conditions.
Duster AWD: Smaller heart limited top-end performance
Duster AWD sprints is more eager and its linear power delivery makes it more effortless in city. In comparison XUV feels a bit shrugging and peaky. Further the turbo boost that comes in almost linear manner in Duster is quite perceptible in XUV. In mid-range too Duster shines in the range of 3000 – 4000 rpm though after then engine sound becomes hoarse. XUV however is more free-revving and feels relatively free flowing throughout after crossing 2000 mark.
XUV 5OO: Mighty heart, gratifying performance
In terms of shifting experience, both these vehicles are average in their turnout. Both feel notchy and come with relatively heavy clutches mated to 6-speed manual transition. Duster in comparison to XUV boasts better engine-tranny combination and overall feel of mechanicals is slicker in French vehicle. Electronically operated AWD in Duster are well sensed unit that automatically detect slippage and accordingly sent the required torque to respective wheel.
Clutch feel of the XUV 5OO is jerky and even threaten to annoy long city hours driving. Overall feel is heavy and quite annoying in case of frequent shift. On flip side however brakes are more fulfilling in XUV and unlike spongy feel of Duster; brake pedal of XUV doesn’t wobble in disturbing way.
XUV 5OO: 3.5/5 Duster AWD: 3.5/5
Duster was always been a great riding car and AWD version is no different. Carrying forward the legacy of excellent ride quality, the addition of independent rear suspension in AWD has made Duster even more accomplished car.
Duster AWD: Pliant suspension aiding ride quality
Steering is nice, direct and with plated feel Duster AWD feels a game for everything that is thrown at it. Slow speed ride is impressive and excellently cushioning in almost all the conditions. However handling of Duster is not as impressive as ride quality is. Body roll creeps in easily and even shows the signs of oversteer which are then promptly reined in by intelligent AWD sensors. The safety features like EBD and TCS effectively check the griping problem by aligning Duster back to its toed line.
XUV 5oo: Mediocre Road Manners
Mahindra XUV too boasts of good ride quality though in comparison to Duster, it falls short in terms of riding comfort. The sharp edges do filter into XUV cabin resulting in tossing up of occupants. This uncomforted feel goes and rises with increase in whack.Unlike typical pattern of increasing ride comfort with speed, XUV on the contrary treads the opposite path. Its ride actually becomes obtrusive with the speed and sharp vertical moments further adds to occupants’ discomfort. Rolling is high too and pitching of nose under sudden brake application is quite disconnecting. Ground clearance of XUV is 200 mm which is decent to tackle most of the road conditions with ease and Duster AWD has got even greater 210 mm.
XUV 5OO: 3.5/5
Duster AWD: 4/5
Drawing Room Sense
XUV5oo with its stylistically crafted interiors makes a strong case for itself. Unlike the plain-Jane scheme adopted by Renault, Mahindra has gone whole-hog to impress with XUV interiors. Quality, appliques, shades and texture of XUV really impresses with their overall demeanour and feels more sophisticated and modern. Large hooded instrument cluster, flowing centre console, well-supported seat benches and long equipment list makes XUV far more desirable than Duster.
XUV 5oo: Fulsome cabin
The only lacking factor is a bit patchy fit and finish that indeed spoilt the overall impression of this offering from home-grown auto-major. Despite of best efforts from Mahindra XUV has many rough edges that are glaringly visible. Further we believe that Mahindra could do away with present cabin colour scheme that is no to everybody’s taste. Instead bright black-beige colour could have made this cabin even more spacious and roomier.
Duster AWD: Inserted red-stitching on seats
Even the most-encouraging attitude towards Duster AWD won’t take away from its very straightforward and unanimated cabin language. Even on equipment front Duster AWD fails to impress and lacks even some of the basic expectations like climate control etc. Wide seats with new upholstery and red inserts are good to accommodate any frame though side bolstering is not as supportive as in XUV. Another crucial area where Duster AWD gets a beating is absence of 3rd row of seat which is big plus in favour of XUV. A large family has all the reason to go for XUV given its 7-seat credential which sadly Duster AWD can’t purport to have.
Duster AWD: 3/5
Like interiors on exteriors too, Mahindra accrue the advantage owing to its athletic design and shape. Cheetah-inspired XUV has even gone to obsession with this creature as door handles shaping up like Cheetah claws.
XUV 5oo: Styling delight
Aggressive nose of XUV laced with creases and heavily sculpted chin ornamented by plastic inserts my feel a bit exaggerated but then we Indians love to show off. XUV boasts of tastefully profile and rear end too which is result of focussed design attention throughout the project. Beefed up wheel arches and rear design wedge are some other unique design characteristics of XUV 5OO.
Duster AWD: AWD stickers aplenty
Duster on other hand boasts of simple, straightforward and wide-shouldered body language. There are some quirky details in this French design like large gaping wheel arches and low glass area glaringly noticeable in profile still Duster is handsome and butch in its entirety. Roof-rails and muscular wheel arches provide unique personality to Duster and its broad shoulders still remain one of its strongest identification virtue. AWD stickers are used in plenty at front and sides while at rear AWD badge sits beneath variant detail.
Except for ground clearance, Mahindra XUV dwarfs Duster in all other dimensional comparison. It’s visibly longer, wider and taller in comparison and even comes with lengthier 2700 mm of wheelbase. Duster wins on front of ground clearance where its belly is 210 mm off the ground compared to 200 mm of clearance wielded by XUV. In terms of kerb weight Duster has much toned body with weight of 1300 kg while XUV with 1785 kg sports far more heavier butt.
XUV 5OO: 4/5
Duster AWD: 3.5/5
Duster AWD comes with price advantage of around Rs 1.5 lakh in its favour with cheaper tag of Rs 12.99 lakh compared to Rs14.68 lakh of XUV 5OO ( both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). Undoubtedly Duster AWD is commendable proposition and blends practicality and ruggedness in seamless manner. It comes with excellent ride quality and overall sense of stability is amazing too. However Duster lacks on front on interiors and performance quotient and this is exactly where XUV comes in and smash its French counterpart. Not only XUV is more powerful and performance oriented, it has genuine 7-seat capacity suitable for large families. Further the long equipment list in addition to more sophisticated cabin makes XUV a more rational and logical buy than Duster. Duster has given a commendable fight but at last it is bigger and mightier XUV that walks away with honour in this road test comparison review.
XUV 5OO: 4/5
Duster AWD: 3.5/5