Renault wants to turn the MPV market on its head here in India and this is the car it plans to do it with. The French carmaker knows a thing or two about big people movers, having created the MPV segment back in Europe back in the 1980’s with the aptly named Espace MPV. The Indian market though isn’t going to an easy one, especially considering the fact that this segment has some strong rivals from Maruti, Honda and that King of MPVs, Toyota. But Renault has already tasted success with the Duster. So can the company replicate the same success with the Lodgy? We figure it out.
Just like most French designs, the Lodgy is quirky looking. It’s a love it or hate it design. Unlike the Duster which has a unique square and boxy shape, the Lodgy is a bag of sharp cuts and curves all across. It looks the best when viewed from the front three quarter angle. It’s built on the same no-frills platform as the Duster, but for the Indian market, Renault spiced up the styling considerably. The company has given it plenty of chrome up front to give the style plenty of jazz.
This is a long car and this is immediately visible as soon as you see it from side on. Interestingly, the Lodgy is longer than both the Maruti Ertiga as well as the Honda Mobilio but slightly shorter than the Innova. However, the Lodgy has the longest wheelbase in this segment, ensuring greater room for occupants inside the cabin.
With all three rows up there is 279 litres of capacity in the boot. You can remove the last row to get 759 litres of space. But if you need more space all you need to do is fold away the second row of seats and you get enough room to shift home in. Renault claims that you can make multiple combination with these flexible seats making the cabin a really practical place to be in.
All three rows get separate AC vents to aid comfort. The last row has decent place for adults and is better than both the Mobilio as well as Ertiga but still can’t match the space of the Innova. The front row of seats is set lower than the rear, which means that whoever gets in the second row gets a good view of the row ahead and does not feel claustrophobic in the slightest.
Quality of materials used are good all across the cabin and the Lodgy feels like a premium product in that department.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The Lodgy will come with only one engine option. It’s the same 1.5-litre unit that powers the Duster. You will get this in two states of tune, 85bhp and 110bhp. We got to drive the 110bhp version of the car. The Lodgy impresses as soon as you start it. The engine is very quiet and even when you rev it hard the cabin remains a calm place to be in. This gives the Lodgy the immediate edge over the Honda Mobilio as well as Toyota Innova, both of which aren’t as smooth.
Performance is brisk too, once you step on the accelerator and move the car past 2,000rpm. The Lodgy, just like the Duster has its best power reserve in the 2,000-4,000rpm band. So you will have to use the gearbox judiciously to get the best out of this engine. That said, the gearbox is a delight to operate. It’s crisp and precise and right up there with the Honda Mobilio and Ertiga’s units. However, the Lodgy has the edge here as well. This is a six-speed unit, which means greater flexibility for the engine on the highway.
Ride and handling
The ride is supple around town and the MPV cushions you from the worst roads rather well. On the highway as well, the big MPV feels well planted and cross winds do not affect this car too much. However, handling isn’t as adroit. The Lodgy has plenty of body roll when you push it into corners. This is one area where the Mobilio is supreme. But, to the Lodgy’s credit the steering is pretty accurate and offers good feel.
Safety and equipment
In terms of features you get climate control, steering mounted stereo controls as well as GPS based navigation on the Lodgy. It also comes with multiple airbags as well as ABS to keep you and your loved ones safe.
If you are in the market for a seven-seater MPV for the family and don’t really want to follow the herd mentality then this MPV is a logical choice.