Renault Lodgy - the new sheriff in town #LiveLodgyCal

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

I learned a lot about Renault over the weekend. I knew they were a French automobile manufacturing company but I guess I had the misconception that they were a relatively young company, my mind only being able to recall the Pulse and the Duster from their stable in India. Considering the fact that they were established in 1899, I guess that would make them a 116 year old 'young' lad, eh?

But you see, that is exactly my point. There was so much I was unaware of even as I stepped into Goa to test out the recently launched 2015 Renault Lodgy. Since their arrival in India in 2011, Renault has been on a steady upward curve with five car launches in 18 months culminating in the extremely successful launch of the Duster. In this short span of time, they have already established over 150 outlets across the country as of last year and are gearing up for 200 by the end of this year.

They also had a stellar track record which we need to be grateful for, I realized.
Renault are true innovators in the automobile field, credited with making the first sedan, hatchback and even multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). Since the launch of the first MPV in the world back in 1984, over 2 million Renault MPVs have been sold across a hundred countries over the years.

In India, the MPV segment caters to a very specific crowd, one that gives more prominence for practicality, comfort and space. And yet, the modern family demands more, does it not? It is no longer just about fitting seven family members in a car... we still want the best in ride handling, technology and features.

Enter the Renault Lodgy.

Image courtesy: the super awesome photographer DeckleEdge

Unwilling to rest on the laurels that they have achieved across the world, the Lodgy rode in to India in April 2015 and immediately redefined the existing benchmarks in the MPV category hitherto set down by the likes of the Toyota Innova, Maruti Ertiga and Honda Mobilio.

40 bloggers from across the country were invited by Renault in association with Blogadda to Goa for the #LiveLodgyCal event. Divided into teams of 4 randomly, we got to drive either the 85 PS or the 110 PS over the weekend. My team, the #FleetingFour ( consisting of SenthilKumarSammy & Prashanth ) got the 85 PS and got to drive over 70 kms from Cavelossim to Canacona beach and back, testing the Lodgy on various terrains to see if the numbers on paper matched the actual performance on the road.


Image courtesy: DeckleEdge

* The Lodgy is available in 2 diesel options: the 85 PS with a maximum torque of 200 Nm @ 1900 rpm (boasting a fuel efficiency of 21.04 kmpl) and the 110 PS with a maximum torque of 245 Nm @ 1750 rpm (with 19.98 kmpl).
* While the 85 PS comes with 4 options (Standard, RXE, RXL and RXZ), the 110 PS offers the added option of choosing between a seven and eight seater.
* As against the 5 speed manual of the 85 PS, the Lodgy 110 PS boasts a 6 speed gearbox.
* The Lodgy has a modern monocoque design unlike the Innova which makes it lighter and easier to handle on the roads.
* Fuel tank capacity is 50 liters.
* The Lodgy is priced between Rs 8.19-11.79 lakhs (ex showroom). In comparison, the Innova's price range varies from Rs 10.51 - 15.81 lakhs. Hmm.


Image courtesy: DeckleEdge
* A lovely smile in the form of the chrome-rich grille greets you as you step in front of the Lodgy. There is a truly 'sedan' feel to the anterior 1/3rd of the vehicle.
* The headlamp incorporates a 'daytime running light'.
* The roof rail is non-intrusive and does not stick out against the rest of the vehicle design.
* The arrow-head styled tail lamps are a nice touch.
* Electrically adjustable ORVMs are body-coloured.
* Top end models get a neat chrome body side moulding.

* The Lodgy badge is very similar to the style of the Duster. No complaints here. I like that look!


Image courtesy: DeckleEdge

* Space, space and more space! The Lodgy boasts of oodles of it everywhere. The numbers tell you that it has the largest wheelbase in the segment, the best third row headroom, knee radius and shoulder room. First hand, it was a delight to experience as three of us (including 'well built, very well nourished' me) could sit comfortably in the second row of seats without any compromise.
* High roof ensures ample headroom.
* Driver's seat is adjustable every which way! Add to that, adjustable lumbar support and a very comfy arm rest and trust me, this is one seat you will not be ready to relinquish in a hurry.
* Roof mounted air conditioner vents exclusively for second and third row passengers is a nice personal touch.
Personalized Roof mounted AC vents for 2nd and 3rd rows!

* Overall quality of material of the dashboard and console appears to be a step up from their own bestseller, the Duster.
Connects to devices easily. Reverse parking sensor is a
welcome necessity for a vehicle of this size.
* A lovely 7 inch touchscreen sits at the center of the console. In addition to connecting to all the usual suspects such as Bluetooth and USB, it also doubles up as a navigation system, your phone and a reverse parking camera viewer when required. Navigation comes with a 3 year free update.
* Classy two tone gris fume and beige aplaga quilted leather upholstery is definitely a step up from any of its competitors.
* Illuminated glove compartment. There is also an open storage area above it.
* 12 volt sockets to charge your electronic devices as you tweet and instagram on the go are available for all 3 rows in the top end model and the first 2 rows in the others.
* Plenty of cup holders and cubby holes for each individual to house their pet bottles (which is a good thing because I ain't sharing my chips and soft drinks with anyone!)
* Adjustable angles for the second row of seats too! This means that the back seat drivers can travel in absolute luxury as they recline and let you drive.
* Rear windows also roll down completely. When you consider the light colours of the interior as well, this means that there is a very airy and spacious feel inside the car overall.
* Cargo room: Oh, where do I even begin? With all 7/8 seats occupied and 3 rows upright, you would have to suffice with 207 litres of boot space. The real fun comes when you start playing with the various available permutations of the last two rows. Visual illustrations on how to tumble and fold these rows are etched on to the back of the seats. Tumble the last row alone and the space increases instantly to 589 litres.

This is with the third row tumbled (aka 589 litres of trunk space).
As you can see, it can fit a baby hippo, a very large pony or just
good ol' me and still have plenty of space for more luggage!

And that's still not the end of it! You can even remove the last row entirely and get a clear 759 litres of cargo room in there!  The middle row splits in a 60:40 ratio and tumbles forward too, releasing an awe- wait for it -some 1861 litres of boot space for you to use. That is probably an entire hatchback extra, if not more.

The Ride:

Image courtesy: Renault 

The #FleetingFour at #LiveLodgyCal
* Diesel engine? What diesel engine? The NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels on this baby are amazing. There is a wonderful silence as you ride through the streets and this was something that stunned all of us. Kudos to whichever department was in charge of that. Perhaps a certain famous Japanese car manufacturer whose recent diesel engines have all struggled in this regard may want to take notes from Renault?

* There is a certain lag as you start off and Renault attributes it to tinkering with the mechanics to make it suitable at low speeds for city driving. Still, considering the size of the vehicle, that should be expected.
* The unexpected bit and the real fun begins when you get some good riding space on the road and move into third gear and beyond. Once more, the stats put the Lodgy as being way faster than the Innova, logging in at 12 seconds for 0-100 kmph as against the latter's vastly lagging 17 seconds.

* At rpms above 2000 or so, acceleration was smooth and overtaking a breeze. Our ride across the slopes and highways of Goa provided plenty of opportunities to test the various aspects of the Lodgy's engine and it delivered on all counts. Even with a curb weight of over 1300 kgs (not including the four passengers), driving uphill did not strain the engine at all.

My botanical enemy: Healthy green leafy vegetables!!
 Gah! Must drive faster!!!

* That reminds me: for a vehicle this big, it took on the curves and bends quite confidently. There was no sense of body roll at all. Again, something that surprised me.
* Cruise control is available too which is a welcome addition and adds to the comfort factor during long road trips on the highway.
* Suspensions again excel - there were no major rumblings or grumblings from the back seat as we took on some of the rougher roads that Goa had to offer along the way.
* Perhaps just as important as the acceleration you get is the deceleration, I guess. The Lodgy goes from 80 kmph to 0 in 35 meters. Most of its competitors ranged between 40 - 45 meters; the numbers may not appear too large but you know they matter when you are looking to avoid an accident.

Video courtesy my good friend SenthilKumar

Final thoughts:

We Indians tend be creatures of habit. We tend to stick to the old and trusted, even when newer options arise. Perhaps it is time we did open our eyes and see that something new (116 years new, mind you!) does not necessarily mean something untested and most importantly,can be something better.

The game has changed. There is a new sheriff in town to challenge the lethargic competition amongst MPVs in India who have spent years resting on their laurels.

Image courtesy: DeckleEdge

The Renault Lodgy wins on so many levels - space, quality of materials, options, safety, silence, even price - but at the end of the day, what matters most is how you feel when you ride it. And having taken this new kid on the block for a long spin through the Goan monsoons, that was the one feature that really shone through: that this was a vehicle that was an absolute delight to ride on.

And that's why it is an extremely easy decision to agree with the likes of Top Gear, ZigWheels, AutoCar and Team BHP amongst others who have already called the Renault Lodgy the new number one MPV in India.

To check out the official site of the Lodgy, click here.

Authors note:
I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by in association with Renault India. You can read more about our experience in Goa here.

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