The comfy, sturdy, roomy Lodgy

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The comfy, sturdy, roomy Lodgy

When France’s automobile ma­jor Rena­ult laun­ch­ed its Lodgy in India recently, it heralded a new tryst in an already upcoming category of cars. It is an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), but with a robust (French) European build. 

The Lodgy now joins a race of vehicles that already has few ‘confirmed’ winners, and the market is eagerly awaiting what Renault brings to the table. A serious, yet cute MPVThe Lodgy is indeed a cute car, despite the mammoth size it assumes as a whole. An enviable face, and a body to be admired, summarises the exterior appeal. With wide, expressive headlights, with chrome surrounds and daytime lighting, and a stylish chrome grille and front that is chiselled to perfection, the car’s external posture moves down into a sleek, dynamic profile. While embellishments including body-coloured mirrors and aerodynamic two-tone bumpers add style; a warm, welcoming Renault badge at the base of each door helps in effectively protecting the paint job. Side door moulding with chrome inserts have been additionally added to extend the car’s sharp appearance, apart from protecting it from any potential dents or scratches.

The Lodgy’s contemporary European lines accentuate a majestic character, offering the MPV a striking presence. A pair of smoothly running roof rails add a dash of charisma, while also allowing the car to carry loads of up to 80 kg. The sporty five-spoke alloy wheels and 185/65 R15 tyres give the Lodgy a hallmark of the muscular look, coupled with better handling and control on the road.

The rear of the car commands its own respect. Though plain in its appearance, the strong pose reiterates the fit and finish of the car, built to tank-like perfection. The rear defogger and wiper on the windscreen are prominent, which are again added features. A chrome tailgate garnish has the brand ‘LODGY’ boldly sculpted in chrome. Large arrow-head tail lamps efficiently cover the car’s looks.

Room for, well, everyoneOnce inside, the Lodgy provides so much space that a family can drive an entire day in the car, just like in the comfort of one’s home. The three-row seating is built with elements of adaptability. While some of the car’s models (seven-seater) have the provision of captain seats, the Lodgy that we drive (eight-seater) is composed of a regular long middle-row, which provides enough leg-room that a six-footer person can stretch and grab a nap. For easy access to the third row, a 60:40 split is provided.

The seats are chic, and carry a stylish definition with quilted upholstery. The elegant plush seats add great perspective to an already dynamic and eye-catching interior character.

A two-tone dashboard, designed much like popular sibling Duster, is an epitome of ruggedness with a leather wrapped-steering wheel, three-pod instrument cluster with multi-information display, and circular dual aircon vents, at the base of which sits a mediaNAV entertainment system, with rearview camera display. A few other thoughtful additions within the interior include centrally-placed large upper storage on the dash, flight tray, open storage above glove box, 12-volt charging facility, intuitive audi and phone controls, and independently controlled second and third-row aircon vents.

Renault says that the Lodgy can seat three in the last row, and so we try to squeeze in. But unless all three are size-zero adults, it gets a little cramped. Designers have made the Lodgy the best weekend holiday car, with ample space for luggage for five people. The trunk space is legendary, with space to hold enough luggage at 1,861 litres.

Multi-purpose driveThe Lodgy is available in two engine variants — one offering 110 PS of power and another offering 85 PS of power, both running on a 1.5-litre dCi powertrain (same as those on the Duster). 

We drive the former, which we decide to take on the straight aligned New Airport Road, off Bengaluru, before taking off on the hill climb near Nandi.

The car’s French engine picks up quickly. The European MPV roars, though silently on the wide six-lane road, effortlessly overtaking other cars. 

The 1.5-litre dCi engine delivering 110 PS of power, which is tamed by a smooth (first-in-segment) six-speed manual transmission with gear ratios that are perfectly matched to the engine’s output, help the Lodgy gather more and more road at every push of the gas pedal. The cruise control gives much needed relief from clutch and accelerator, helping the car reach top speeds of over 140 kmph.

 Once the climb over the meandering road of Nandi Hills commences, we notice that the packed car coughs a little, requiring the gear to be lowered to the second, and in few instances, to even the first. But on the whole, the drive over an inclined and serpentine road goes comfortably well, and the car steadily climbs thanks to its engine’s delivery of 245 Nm of torque at 170 rpm. But the car’s efficient steering control is well worth the drive, and the Lodgy, like most other utility vehicles, takes its occupants up any road with panache.

The Lodgy’s monocoque body provides increased torsional rigidity, along with a stable suspension for reduced tilt and an adaptive anti-roll bar. Also in store is the Ergo-Drive which combines the car’s driving with effortless handling, adding to the overall vehicle dynamics, performance, and an efficient powertrain. We can feel that the car sways very less even though it’s being relentlessly steered through the ever-present bends. Zero vibration supports the fact that car has been built with seriousness to safety and comfort.

Further additions for a safe drive include airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, and a central locking mechanism for young ones. With all these specs in operation, the Lodgy has safely transported us to the summit of Nandi Hills. Now it is to be seen if the Lodgy reaches the summit of the Indian MPV challenge. Available in six colours, the different variants of Renault Lodgy are priced from between Rs 8.32 lakh and Rs 11.92 lakh (ex-showroom, Bengaluru). According ARAI, the fuel economy of the car stands at 19.98 km per litre.  

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