The Lodgy MUV is Renault’s attempt at making a mark in the premium seven-seater segment that is being ruled by the Toyota Innova for more than half a decade now. Where most of the Innova’s rivals failed for reasons like brand value, ownership cost, ‘taxi image’ and even looks, we try and find out if the Renault Lodgy stands a chance with the claimed modern underpinning, better performance and extra cabin space.
Instead of a in your face profile, it gets a rather smooth design on the front with petite headlights just around the front corners with a strong chrome line forming the hood lip joining both the headlights. The twin slat grille flows horizontally around the solid Renault logo placed at the centre. The front bumper gradually flows out from the headlight giving it a car like design. It also gets a two tone finish with the lower portion finished in matte also forming an air splitter and fog lamps housing. The chrome touch given all over looks decent.
The uniformly straight flowing roofline makes it look like a typical family carrier but at the same time it looks way better than Nissan Evalia and Chevrolet Enjoy. Large windows for all three rows make it look impressive as well as serve for a roomier feel inside the cabin. The wheel arches gets a subtle flair and the 185/65 R15 tyres with five spoke solid alloys suit the large contours. To make sure the silhouette doesn’t look drab, the Lodgy gets crease lines on front and rear sections. There are chrome protectors on the lower section.
The rear quarter view looks as impressive as the front quarter with swollen sections and solid profile. The fish tail styled tail lamps is a nice attempt to distract from otherwise boring looking tail door. It gets roof mounted brake lamps and a large rear windshield. There is again solid chrome above the number plate area as well as on the lower section of the tail door. Overall, the rear profile looks clean and scores more points than many other MPVs excluding the Honda Mobilio, which has the best tail door design.
Now this is where the Renault Lodgy really comes into its own. It is nearly 4.5 metres in length, it has a reasonably high roof, and it isn’t exactly short on width like the Honda Mobilio or the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. So interior room on the Lodgy is fantastic. Be it leg or elbow room at the front; knee, shoulder and head room in the second row; or even the knee and shoulder room in the third row; the Lodgy has enough and more all round. This one is a proper seven seater even when you consider adults.
But this is true only for the version that gets a bench in the second row; officially classified as an eight seater. Renault says the Lodgy can seat three in the last row, and so we tried. But unless all three are size zero adults, it’s an uncomfortable squeeze. For two, it’s great. Flexibility to haul luggage though is just as Renault claims. With all seats in place, there’s enough space for small sized suitcases (over 200 litres). With the last row folded, the Lodgy can easily gobble up weekend luggage for five. And when you throw out the last row and fold the second, you can literally move houses with this car.
Now, this is the top of the line RxZ trim. The Lodgy will also be available in the mid level RxL and the entry level RxE trims, the detailed feature list for which will only be revealed later. For the RxZ, its interiors might look different from the one on the Duster, but there’s still a lot of parts sharing here. The steering wheel, the front aircon vents, the gear shifter as well as buttons and knobs be it for the aircon or the power windows or even the ORVMs, are all from the Duster.
The touchscreen multimedia system is taken from the Duster as well. So, the overall quality levels though not all that great, still suffice. But not having climate control or ORVMs with turn indicators is a miss. The Renault Lodgy in the RxZ trim also gets steering column mounted audio controls, Satnav, and aircon vents for all three rows besides ABS and front two airbags on the safety front.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The Lodgy is powered by the same tried and tested 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, carried over from the Duster, offered in two states of tune – 110 PS/245 Nm and 85 PS/200 Nm. It won’t come with the 1.6-litre petrol engine though. The 1.5-litre oil burner is a gem of an engine that we have tested in various cars before. It is quite a refined motor with stellar NVH levels, fuel efficiency and tractable power. The engine behaves the same in the Lodgy, pulling the MPV in a strong yet linear fashion. There is the typical turbolag under 2000 RPM with the 110 PS version, which is not present in the 85 PS version. The car has a punchy mid and top-end power that makes it a confident highway performer. The diesel clatter is not intrusive in the cabin but gets a little vocal near the redline that comes at 5000 RPM.
The 110 PS Lodgy is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission while the 85 PS gets a 5-speed gearbox. Gear shifts are smooth and slick but the 110 PS has a heavy and snappy clutch, which can get annoying in stop-go traffic. 100km/hr in the 6th gear sees the needle ticking around 1900 RPM, which makes cruising quite relaxed. The 110 PS version does the 0-100 km/hr sprint in 12 seconds with a top speed of 170 km/hr and the 85 PS does it in 13.3 seconds having a top whack of 163 km/hr. The French automaker claims that it has the best acceleration and top speed in its category. The ARAI fuel efficiency figures for the 110 PS and 85 PS Lodgy are 19.98 km/l and 21.04 km/l respectively, take them with a grain of salt though as real world mileage will be at least 4-5 km/l lesser.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
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 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
Renault seems to have wiggled into a sweet spot in the crowded MPV market with the Lodgy. It blends space, comfort, good driving dynamics and strong performance into a convincing package. As a family car, this MPV is hard to beat. It makes for a happy companion, especially on holidays, thanks to its unmatched cruising ability and long fuel range. It’s not all perfect though. The quest to liberate as much room as possible has made the Lodgy a touch too boxy, which could be a deal breaker for some. Also, at Rs 11.79 lakh for the top-end RxZ 110 diesel, it is on the pricier side. However, you do get a fair bit for your money, which makes the Lodgy reasonable value too. The only real issue is, Renault’s service network doesn’t as yet cover the entire length and breadth of the country. But the Lodgy’s proven mechanicals, which are shared by the Duster, should give owners peace of mind.