This is the Lodgy, an MPV that has been developed by a car maker that first introduced this body style to the world more than three decades ago! This people mover has been around for a while in international markets but it's finally made it here to India. This delay meant that Renault have had the time to make a few vital changes and additions for our market. We've just driven the production spec Lodgy around Bangalore, here's what we think of it.
The Lodgy follows a simple design approach but that doesn't mean it's not appealing. The basic silhouette may be boxy but then the striking face and various lines on the body make the MPV quite likeable. The front end is dominated by an imposing grille that has been tweaked for India. The twin slats neatly sit around the large Renault logo. The variant you see here uses the optional chrome pack kit, expect a lot less bling on the standard variant. The detailing around the air dam and the fog lamps are also finished in chrome. The bumper features a sharp chin like we see in a few Volkswagen cars, we like it.
Move to the side and you will realise that it is quite a long vehicle. At 4.5m it's longer than the Duster and is still a proportionate design. The sides are flat but to give it character the front and rear fenders get some definition. There's more chrome too, in the form of a side strip. 15-inch alloy wheels look smart and fill up the wheel arch quite nicely. The tail lamps wraparound the sides well and flow with the fender line. Taking of the lamp, the uniquely shaped vertical unit with a hexagonal cluster is the only highlight of the plain rear end. The boot release button stand out oddly, unlike the Duster it is placed above the chrome garnish.
Step inside and you're greeted by the spacious and simple interior. The interior is smart and built well too. If you drive a Duster like us, one will immediately feel at home. That's because a lot of parts are shared and is exactly the same as the SUV. For instance the instrument cluster, steering wheel, gear lever, air vents, door handles, air-con switches etc have all been borrowed. But since it is a newer car, it is more appealing inside. The light brown/beige interior combo is easy on the eye and adds to the airy feel. The steering wheel features cruise control switches and the audio and phone controls are housed behind the wheel similar to the, yes you guessed it - the Duster.
The Lodgy excels when it comes to space and comfort. The front seats offer good support and driver seat is height adjustable in two steps. We preferred the lower seat height since the seating position is more sedan like. The seats also offer good thigh and back support while the middle seats could do with some more. Headroom is impressive but kneeroom for the middle passengers is just about perfect. One can opt either captain seats or a bench seat for the middle row (7 and 8 seater configuration). The last row is wide and offers impressive shoulder room but the floor being stepped up in the back results in one's knees pointing upwards when seated. This isn't a comfortable position to be in especially on longer journeys. There are various storage points too, the front doors and area below the centre console get bottle holders. The middle row also gets bottle holders along with foldable trays mounted to the back of the front seats. While the third row gets cup and bottle holders on the armrests like most modern MPVs.
Boot space varies depending on the seat positions. With all three rows upright, there is 207-litres of space on offer and with the the third row tumbled, it increases to 589-litres. The third row can also be removed completely, 759-litres can be used then while a massive cargo van like 1861-litres of space is available when the middle row is tumbled. The second and third row seats can be split folded as well. Overall, the Lodgy offers impressive comfort and space, an important asset as an MPV.
The proven K9K engine has been used in the Lodgy, the 1.5-litre VGT diesel is available in two states of tune(85PS and 110PS) like on the Duster. We drove the more powerful variant and found the motor to be refined. It produces good power across the range and is a pleasure to drive both in town and highway. There's ample torque too (245Nm) so ferrying eight grownups and luggage isn't a problem. The 6-speed gearbox makes full use of all the power, the ratios are well spread out. The gearbox does feel notchy to operate but gears slot well. The clutch action is lighter than on the Duster, good news then, especially while driving through congested traffic. We even drove through Bangalore traffic for hours and it wasn't tiring. Out on the highway, the MPV was effortless to drive. We like driving the Duster across the country since it is a capable tourer and are pretty sure that the Lodgy is as good if not better. Besides, a relaxed motor combined with impressive comfort makes it a great highway travel machine.
It's quick too, thanks to a low kerb weight (1368kg),100kmph comes up in less than 13 seconds while the MPV maxes out at 165kmph. Claimed fuel efficiency is 21.04kmpl, in our tests, the Lodgy returned good figures. In town, the vehicle returned 12.3kmpl and on the highway the figured went up to an impressive 21.6kmpl. The fuel tank can hold a maximum of 50-litres, translating to a driving range of almost 750kms.
The Lodgy doesn't get independent rear suspension like the Duster AWD but the torsion beam setup is still tuned very well to offer a great ride. Just like its SUV sibling, it drives easily over broken roads, bumps and undulations. Ride quality is definitely an USP here. The vehicle handles well too and despite its overall length, is still quite agile. The steering offers good feedback and isn't as heavy as the Duster, there is hardly any steering kickback as well.
Like the rest of the Renault cars, the Lodgy will also be available in thee variants - RXE, RXL and RXZ. The last being the top variant. We are guessing this is the variant that also gets standard airbags and ABS. There's also a speed limiter option. In terms of comfort features, the Lodgy gets a reverse camera, parking sensors, separate air-conditioning for the second and third rows(specially developed for India), a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system that features a stereo and navigation that comes with 3-years of free map updates. A first in segment cruise control feature is also standard in the top variant and is quite handy. There's also a long accessory list, 47 items to be exact. Four accessory packs will also be provided. Apart from the chrome pack you see in the Lodgy featured here, one can also opt for the essential pack, sport pack and the techno pack at an additional cost. Warranty includes a 2 years/50000km package with 2 years of road side assistance, it can also be extended to 3 years/60000km or 4 years/80000km.
There have been quite a few MPVs that have been launched over the years but the Lodgy stands out amongst them, the vehicle is smart looking, powerful, efficient, comfortable and spacious. These attributes make it a potential winner. However, Renault needs to price it well. We aren't sure if there will be a petrol model but expect the diesel variants to be priced between Rs 9 to 13 lakh, ex-showroom. At this price bracket the Lodgy will give a tough fight to not just the Innova but also to the Ertiga and Mobilio.
How does the Lodgy fare against the hot-selling Innova? We will have the answers on this page very soon.