Renault Lodgy Stepway: First Drive Review

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.

 

CABIN 

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

  1. 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

 

SAFETY 

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

 

BOTTOMLINE 

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.

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