Essential Highway Companion…

Every once in a while, work, weather and pandemic permitting, my family likes to drive out of Bangalore, for a break in the wilds. In this post, I will talk about my family vehicle- a 2014 Renault Duster, which we’ve driven more than 50000kms over the last seven years.

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On the shores of Kabini Reservoir…

At the time, I was happy with the ‘all I can afford’ base model, which seemed a significant step up from our outgoing Chevy Beat. It did not have much in terms of safety equipment and as we realised over time, was disappointingly basic on interior features. Today, it probably qualifies more as a ‘truck’ than the trailblazing off-roader that started the SUV revolution in India.

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Somewhere in the Western Ghats

Still, I feel old Dusty has endearing characteristics that warrant its legendary status. It’s  torquey diesel engine is pretty frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. Seven years on, the fabled ‘magic carpet’ ride quality endures. A decent mile muncher, its a pleasure to drive on the open highway. All round visibility in the vehicle is one of the best in its class. There is no raked window line, subduing occupants into car sickness. As a driver, I’m  more confident piloting the Duster through narrow bylanes of Shivaji Nagar (an old neighbourhood in the city) than my wife’s little Honda hatchback. The car is a bit of a ‘carry it all’, like American station wagons of the 70’s- the boot space is surprisingly large! I’ve once transported a single bed in it, with the seats folded down, the boot half closed and a passenger beside me! The Duster is no fancy frilly, loaded to gills, gizmo flaunting Korean ‘softroader’. It’s a joy to drive off tarmac, with its 30 degree approach angle and 205mm ground clearance. It’s built tough and can take punishment. And because it handles dirt with aplomb, it WILL get you from Point A to Point B, wherever they may be.

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Duster loves distance. Its great for sunsets too.
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Exploring the beaten trail off Coonoor, Nilgiris.
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Good for impromptu picnic drives, soaks in the wild.
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Amidst tea plantations in the Blue Mountains
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On a back road near Wind Hill, Karnataka
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All round visibility ensures you see the end of your bonnet (and everything beyond!)
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Hill climb? No Worries!
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Somewhere in Tamil Nadu, enroute to Madurai
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In coffee country, Coorg.
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Southbound Again! Enroute to Kodaikanal

We have roamed a fair bit of the South in our beloved family ‘truck’. Its always been a trustworthy, accommodating and fun vehicle to explore the outdoors. But with diesel phasing out and electric the way to go, I’ve been thinking of what’s next for good ol’ Dusty. Some days ago, I came across some Youtube videos which certify this car as a popular camper van conversion, especially in Europe, Russia and South America. And that is giving me exciting ideas for the long run!

In Avalanche, Nilgiris
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At Harangi Reservoir, Coorg
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Essential Highway Companion.

 

 

 

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