Same body, but donning a rugged jacket and slicker shoes.
Renault India's products do not seem to coerce car buyers to flock into showrooms as much as the Kwid. While the Duster did enjoy success and set the template for car-like rugged compact SUVs in India, the Renault Lodgy could not do the same for the MPV segment which, at the time of launch, was promising fortunes.
At the first test drive of the Lodgy over a couple of years back, I was quite impressed by how well the Lodgy bridges the gap between MPVs like the Maruti Ertiga and Toyota Innova. It still does all of the practical mumbo jumbo that Innova buyers gloat about, whilst being significantly less expensive.
In 2017, the budget MPV segment has seen better days, with dead or dying models like Honda Mobilio, Nissan Evalia, Ashok Leyland Stile, Mahindra Xylo and the Chevrolet Enjoy. While the Innova - sorry, now Innova Crysta - has jumped to a more premium segment it's looking impossible to convince buyers to look away from an SUV and towards an MPV, unless they are shown a car with a Maruti or a Toyota badge.
However, Renault believes that the Lodgy Stepway's rugged, crossover-ish exterior and spacious cabin that offers the best of both worlds will change that narrative. It has been on the market since mid-2015, but Renault recently updated the Lodgy Stepway with features that were exclusive to the Lodgy RXZ (now discontinued) and priced it between INR 9.43 Lakhs – INR 11.26 Lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). We were invited to Mumbai at, surprisingly, night to test drive the Renault Lodgy. Here's our first drive review.
The exterior styling of the regular Renault Lodgy is as exciting as going to work on a Monday morning. By the looks of it, the Lodgy would be more at home at an airport's taxi stand, rather than on my flat's parking area.
So does adding a few crossover bits and a bolder grille help? To a certain extent, yes. The Lodgy Stepway is still a boxy MPV, but the said changes have added some character to the plain Jane exterior and make it more appealing to personal buyers. I especially like the new 16-inch Panache alloy wheels as it better matches with the large exterior than the gunmetal rims.
Inside, the Lodgy Stepway looks largely identical to the discontinued Lodgy RXZ. The cabin bets big on practicality and space, rather than design, which is fine because it's an affordable people hauler. It does have the usual set of gloss black and chrome accents to come across as a premium cabin, but the quality of materials used suggests otherwise.
The Gris Fume and Beige seat leather upholstery with diamond stitching is tasteful, and contributes to the comfy feeling of the seats. I presume long journeys on the driver's seat will be pleasant. However, I am not sure if it is specific to our test car, but the seat was slightly rocking while applying brakes/accelerating. Rocking chairs are usually relaxing and sleep stimulating, although I was quite unnerved in this particular instance.
Regarding equipment, the Lodgy has a 7-inch MEDIANAV touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control, Bluetooth telephony buttons, and DRLs. For its INR 11.56 price tag (ex-showroom Delhi), it probably is not the most well-equipped car, but there's no passenger car with this much space and practicality around that price.
Our test car had the familiar K9K 1.5-liter dCi four-cylinder diesel engine paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox, which produces 110 PS and 245 Nm at 1750 rpm. The Stepway can also be equipped with the less powerful 85 PS version of the 1.5-liter dCi four-cylinder diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The drivability is similar to the Lodgy I tested when it first came out. The 1.5 DCi has plenty of punch post 2,000 rpm, which contributes to a car-like performance from a 4.5 m long MPV, but the apparent turbo lag will force you to downshift, should an opportunity to overtake arise.
On the highway, the Lodgy has enough power to hit good speeds, although it is more rewarding when you let the engine silently work at around 2,000 rpm and watch the fuel efficiency numbers increase. It is capable of averaging a fuel efficiency of 19.98 km/L which may be lower than the Ertiga, but still a respectable figure for an MPV.
As for ride quality, the Renault Lodgy Stepway can gobble any Indian road, and the occupants would remain unfazed. In fact, one of the occupants in our test car had quickly fallen asleep only to wake up when the test drive was complete. It is that comfortable. I am still quite surprised why the Lodgy did not do so well given that it offers one of the plushest rides for under 12 Lakhs and that Indians do prioritise ride quality in their car-buying decision.
Keeping aside the small niggles, the Renault Lodgy is an MPV we have no problem with recommending if you are strictly on the hunt for a capacious, practical MPV for your family's needs.
It still offers best-in-class ride quality, comfortable seats, decent amount of equipment and a punchy-yet-fuel efficient turbodiesel motor, with the Stepway variant adding a tougher look to the exterior. The fact that the top-end Lodgy Stepway is almost a lakh cheaper than the equivalent Renault Duster (110 PS RXZ MT), whilst offering much more space, similar equipment, and the same powertrain makes it an attractive product in Renault's portfolio. The Renault Lodgy meets whatever expectations we have from an MPV.