Renault first tasted success in India with the Duster. This popular SUV is the sole pillar in the company’s product portfolio on which Renault’s fortunes in India rest. Now, after three years, the French company has come up with its next important model — the Lodgy — which promises to strengthen Renault’s Indian portfolio significantly. The Lodgy might be Renault’s first MPV for India, but the French automaker is no stranger to people movers. In fact, 30 years ago, it invented the segment with the Espace. But here in India, this sector is already flocked by popular brands like Maruti and Honda. So do the MPV innovators have a trick up their sleeve?
DESIGN AND STYLING ;
Renault has been quite safe when it comes to the styling of their cars, at least in India. Notice the entire lineup offered here and you would realise that there’s nothing exciting in their design language, it’s neutral. Same is the case with the Lodgy. No, it doesn’t mean that it looks bad, the styling is conventional yet contemporary and there are certain bits that make it look cool. The front looks pleasant with a detailed grille having a good dose of chrome and a big Renault badge sitting proudly. The headlamps are sizeable that makes the car look big at the front and it gets day time running lights that are not LEDs. The lower half of the bumper is done in black, integrating foglamps and some chrome accents as well.
The Lodgy is 4498 mm long and has the longest wheelbase in its class measuring 2810 mm, longer than the Innova’s 2750 mm. This is quite evident in the side profile with short overhangs. It also looks quite tall with a huge glass area. There are no violent creases running across the body and the design is kept simple and neat. The door mouldings on the lower half of the body get highlighted in chrome while the 15-inch 5-spoke alloys don’t look much exciting. Despite having uniquely shaped tail lights and chrome embellishments, the Lodgy tends to look plain at the rear. The tailgate needs some muscle for better presence. The thick chrome strip having LODGY etched on it is a good touch but the keyhole above it looks out of place and ugly. The overall design looks appealing to all and offending none with balanced proportions ideal for an MPV. Renault will also offer 47 categories of accessories with 4 accessory packs including chrome pack, essential pack, sport pack and techno pack to enhance the exterior appeal.
Once you step inside, it comes across as familiar territory. The dash has many borrowings from Duster including the AC vents, centre console, switches, gear knob and the steering wheel, which is leather wrapped. The two tone – light brown and beige colour scheme provides a classy and airy feel. The piano black centre console looks quite premium and it houses the Media-Nav, which is a multimedia touchscreen device with navigation and a reverse camera, though viewing it in bright sunlight is an issue.
The car we drove was a seven-seater, which had captain seats in the second row. The top end variant of this one gets leather seats. There are armrests for the driver and second row passengers. The second row passengers also have access to a foldable tray with a cup/glass holder, which is a good utility feature. The Lodgy would also be offered with a eight-seater option, however with fabric seats. The car has good storage space for water bottles and knick-knacks, two 12v sockets and roof mounted rear AC vents for the second as well as third row.
The highlight of the Lodgy is space. I was particularly surprised with the third row seats that can seat two adults or three kids with ease and comfort. The best part is that the second and third row seats can double fold, providing multiple luggage carrying options. While stepping in, the first thing noticed was that the ingress and egress is a breeze! Getting in and out of the car is easy and very helpful, especially for the elderly. That applies for the front as well as rear. Also the boot sill is low enough to allow easy luggage loading / unloading.
The Lodgy feels easy to drive, more like a sedan than an MPV. It was easy to find a suitable driving position with the steering and seat height adjustments. Another highlight of the Lodgy is the ride quality, which is easily the best among MPVs and trumps many sedans in this department. Broken roads and deep potholes pose no irritation to the passengers as the Lodgy literally glides over them.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
Just like in the Duster, the Lodgy is also offered with the same powertrain and in the same state of tunes. So, like the Duster, the Lodgy too will be offered with the same, reliable K9K diesel engine in two power and torque ratings. The 1.5-litre dCi engine will be available with a peak power of 85PS or 110PS. There are expected to be three trim variants with both the engine rating options.
We only had the 110PS being offered to us for the test drive. The engine is familiar and its torquey performance straight away feels like the right match for the Lodgy. Both in city traffic and highway speeds, there is more than enough juice from the engine to make use of. There is a bit of lag, but once the needle passes the 1,400-1500rpm level, dollops of torque kick in. We are not sure, how responsive the engine would feel in its 85PS avatar, especially if the Lodgy would be fully loaded with people and luggage.
The best part about the powertrain in the Lodgy is the excellent NVH packaging that the engineers at Renault have done. The cabin is absolutely quiet all the way to a high 3,500rpm. The engine redline seems to have been set at about 5,000 rpm. Renault claims that together with the 6-speed manual gearbox, the engine is capable of delivering 21.04kmpl and 19.98kmpl of mileage in the two – 85PS and 110PS – variants.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
When seated inside, the first thing that strikes you is the Renault Lodgy’s seating position. It is exactly the same as the Duster which gives you a commanding view of the road ahead. But, because the dash design as well as the windshield angle is different, the visibility offered by the Lodgy is better. It’s also not too heavy to drive. The clutch still needs some effort and the steering isn’t as light as on the Maruti or the Honda. But, it won’t leave you with aching arms or limbs even after long hours of commute. Ride, as with the Duster, is sorted on most surfaces. It’s slightly firm. This helps over poor roads and undulations, giving the Lodgy a composed, big car like pliancy.
It’s the same story when driven fast in a straight line. There’s hardly any lift, weave or nervousness no matter how hard you push it. Handling wise, sure, it’s no hatchback. However, around long, fast corners it tracks with confidence. The steering has reasonably good feedback and unless one chucks the Lodgy hard into corners, the extra length doesn’t make its presence felt either. We also found the cabin to be well insulated. So there isn’t a lot of noise seeping in, especially from the engine. Overall, this should make for a fine long distance companion
The Renault Lodgy has got only three star safety rating from Euro NCAP and that too for the international model having 6 airbags as standard. Renault will be offering the Lodgy in India with only dual front airbags, which is a big letdown. It will also get ABS, EBD with brake assist. Apart from cruise control, the MPV will come with a speed limiter as well. Renault currently has a network presence of more than 157 facilities across India. In order to get volumes and provide better after sales service, the French automaker needs to ramp up their presence, which they say they are doing through the year and claim it to be the fastest ramp-up by an automaker in India
The Renault Lodgy is a great attempt in making an attractive looking compact MPV. The interior quality is impressive and acceptable. In terms of comfort, it scores more than others in the competition. The amazing storage and boot space makes it a practical solution for a family. It has the underpinnings of Duster, which has already made its mark in the compact SUV segment. Both the diesel engines are highly promising and efficient. It gets dual airbags, ABS, EBD with brake assist and rear parking camera with sensors.EX Showroom price of Renault Lodgy in Hyderbad.