Renault tasted success in India with the Duster SUV. While some of its other products have been slow sellers, the all-new Lodgy MPV has all the ingredients to make it a best-seller from the get go. Here’s why we think so.
Design & Engineering
For starters, just take a look at it. There isn’t very much you can do with a vehicle whose reason for being is to maximize all the potential interior volume available. But Renault designers have managed to make the Lodgy look quite attractive from most angles. Yes, it is still slab-sided and the blank canvas that is presents should give potential owners enough creative inspiration, but the front end and rear are positively attractive. I love the front of the new Lodgy, with its bold chrome grille and proud Renault diamond. The headlamps are a striking design as well, and the lower bumper with a chrome lip and round fog lights perfectly accentuate it.
The blistered tail-lights are another interesting piece of design, quite unlike anything you’ll see on any vehicle in India. Typically, the ‘L O D G Y’ lettering on the chrome bar at the rear carries forward the Renault theme, which Indian customers of the Duster will be familiar with.
Alloy wheels are only offered on top Lodgy RxZ trim; no turn signals incorporated in mirrors.
Under the skin, the new Lodgy MPV is based on a thoroughly reworked version of the erstwhile Duster platform, so much so that is can be construed to be all-new. Code-named M0, the key features of the Lodgy platform are a longer wheelbase compared to the Duster SUV and reworked suspension mounts and re-configured steering articulation. The Lodgy remains firmly front-wheel drive however, and it is unlikely a four-wheel drive version will ever be made.
Design elements on the new Lodgy are simple and elegant.
Some comparisons to the competition will be inevitable, and the new Lodgy takes on the likes of Honda’s Mobilio and Maruti Ertiga on one end of the spectrum, while also challenging the king of the MPV segment – Toyota Innova – on the other. These are both fair comparisons; the Lodgy has a transverse engine, front-wheel drive and monocoque construction like the Ertiga and Mobilio, although size-wise it is closer to the Innova. Indeed, the new Lodgy has a substantially longer wheelbase, a key factor for its commodious interior as we’ll see later.
Interiors & Comfort
Getting inside the Lodgy is something family owners will particularly appreciate. Unlike the high ingress point to the Innova, the Lodgy proves much simpler and easier to slide into, both in the front and at the back. Third row passengers get some step-motherly treatment however, but considering that space will mostly be occupied by nimble and agile children, it shouldn’t be a problem.
As you can from our pictures, the Lodgy can squeeze in three adults in the third row, but unless the intention is an intimate ménage-a-trois, I really wouldn’t recommend it.
Well-laid out dash. Infotainment system with in-built navigation not too impressive; sound quality is tinny, and screen not bright enough in daylight.
The dashboard in the Renault Lodgy is identical to what you’ll find in the 2015 Duster, but that’s no bad thing. It’s a clean and functional design, with a robust build and easy-to-locate and operate controls. Ergonomics are just fine, and while it does not look as neat a design as the Maruti Ertiga, it is still light years ahead of what the Honda Mobilio and Toyota Innova can manage.
Customers can opt for either a bench seat or two individual captain chairs in the middle row; however, this option is only available in the top-end RxZ variant with the 110 PS engine. The front seats and the middle row are well-bolstered and supportive, and will remain comfortable for the occupant even on long drives.
The new Lodgy has AC vents for all three rows of passengers, which will provide welcome relief, especially since India’s sweltering summers are just around the corner.
Space and flexibility are key aspects for MPV customers, and the Lodgy has both in spades.The third row has split-folding backrests, in a 50:50 ratio, or the third row can be flipped forward entirely. Luggage space is quite good, and even with all three rows in place, it is possible to fit in two cabin bag-sized suitcases. Renault claims the functional roof rails of the Lodgy can also accommodate a further 80 kilograms on the roof, which is an important consideration for fleet owners.
With the third row seats folded, the Lodgy can swallow 827 litres of luggage; remove the third row and fold the second row and you get 2,617 litres of luggage volume. You could literally move house in a couple of trips.
Performance & Handling
Powering the new Renault Lodgy is the familiar K9K diesel engine, available in both 85 PS and 110 PS versions. While the former has a 5-speed gearbox, the variant we tested came with the more powerful engine and a six-speed manual gearbox.
What was immediately apparent and quite impressive about this new MPV was the quiet cabin. You’re barely aware of the diesel engine under the hood, which can only be a good thing. Refinement is way better than any other MPV on sale in India at the moment, and will be a key aspect to getting family buyers to part with their money. Engine noise and road noise are both barely audible, and the only noise you experience at speed is a little bit of wind buffeting around the mirrors.
The Renault Lodgy is also very car-like to drive; Renault India engineers claim the power steering has been recalibrated to make it lighter to steer, and we can happily report that this is true. Despite the lighter steering (compared to the Duster), the Lodgy never feels nervy or skittish, which is a positive attribute. It steers as you would expect, and while here’s no point talking about feedback in a large family MPV, I was happy to note that the steering was positive and accurate. The slab-sided design also makes it a breeze to place on the road, but in tight traffic in Bangalore city we were always careful about its size. On paper it is only marginally narrower than an Innova, but much easier to navigate through meandering traffic.
Another strong point of the Lodgy are its brakes. The long wheelbase definitely plays a part in the Lodgy tracking true, helped in no small part by the ABS system which Renault has included as standard across the range.
Renault's K9K 1.5-litre diesel engine is renowned for its frugal nature.
Renault claims the Lodgy will manage 21 km/l under ideal test conditions with the 85 PS engine, decreasing slightly to 19.9 km/l for the more powerful 110 PS version, despite the taller sixth gear. One can be pedantic and argue that these figures aren’t ‘class-leading’, but we are reasonably confident that the new Lodgy’s mileage won’t be a deal-breaker. It may be considerably lower than the Honda Mobilio’s claim of 24.2 km/l, but then that vehicle is smaller, lighter and possesses none of the finesse that the Lodgy has.
The strong brakes and standard ABS with EBD is a good safety feature on the new Lodgy. ABS can often prevent ugly accidents, and is an active safety feature which should soon become standard fitment on all cars in India. As you go further up the variant catalog on the Lodgy, you get additional safety features like dual front airbags, rear defogger with wiper, ELR seatbelts etc. The rear defogger and wiper are only available on the top-end RxZ variant, as are two front airbags. The lower-spec RxL gets a single driver’s side airbag, while Lodgy base version and the RxE make do without any airbags at all. Similarly, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, cruise control, front seatbelt height adjuster and fog lamps are all available only on the top-of-the-line RxZ version.
New Lodgy will be available in 6 colours: White, Silver, Gray, Black, Blue and deep Purple (pictured). The lovely Maroon, Green and Orange from the Duster have been ditched, unfortunately.
So, where does the dice fall for Renault India? The company is the first to admit that the Duster apart, none of its product offerings have made much of a dent in the Indian market. Renault India’s market share currently hovers around the 3 % mark, which isn’t saying much. In the coming 12 months however, Renault is bullish about doubling its market share. To do so of course, it needs more dealer and more attractive products, and that’s exactly where the new Lodgy MPV makes its mark.
It is a thoroughly engineered vehicle which abides by all the qualities that both family buyers and fleet owners will aspire to. The new Lodgy is refined, well-made, easy to drive and reasonably attractive to look at as well.
Passenger space, versatility, luggage capacity and interior features are available aplenty, and the company has the right focus in offering the Lodgy with ABS as standard, unlike any other vehicle in this segment.
Which brings us to the final consideration: price. A quick glance confirms that Renault has priced the Lodgy extremely competitively.
Lodgy 85 PS Std: Rs 8.19 lakh
Lodgy 85 PS RxE: Rs 8.99 lakh
Lodgy 85 PS RxL: Rs 9.59 lakh
Lodgy 85 PS RxZ: Rs 10.89 lakh
Lodgy 110 PS RxL: Rs 10.09 lakh
Lodgy 110 PS RxZ 8-seater: Rs 11.49 lakh
Lodgy 110 PS RxZ 7-seater: Rs 11.79 lakh
Note, these are introductory prices, however, and Renault will almost certainly increases prices in the coming months. But whichever you cut it, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Lodgy is an extremely good deal. It also brings into focus how stupidly overpriced an out-dated product like the Innova has proven to be. Toyota no doubt makes money hand over fist with the Innova, but the new Lodgy helps to bring much-needed perspective to the market.
For the typical large indian family, the Renault Lodgy proves to be more than just a credible alternative; rather, I would go so far as to say it has the potential to be the defining family vehicle in the MPV segment.
Maruti Ertiga, Honda Mobilio, Toyota Innova