The Renault Lodgy was part of our long-term fleet for over a year – it’s now time for the MPV to make its way back home. Having driven it quite a few times over the last year, what I couldn’t get over was how massive it felt on the narrow Mumbai roads, especially since I prefer small hatchbacks for city driving. However, that didn’t stop the Lodgy from building a strong fan base.
The MPV travelled with us, far and wide, accompanying our camera crew on various shoots. Four seats for the photo and TV crew, and plenty of space for bags and equipment; it was a no-brainer. After its debut drive with us – to Ratnagiri on a rainy day – the Lodgy cemented its place as the official crew vehicle of the photography and video teams.
Although the space offered in the Lodgy is generous, the removable third row of seats is a welcome feature. There was just no limit to how much we could load in it. And regardless of the car that was in the spotlight, be it the humdrum hatches or the exotic supercars, the Lodgy stood its ground at all times.
Our staffer Siddhant’s bicycle fit perfectly in the MPV’s spacious cabin.
Its large windows, flexible seating and wide-opening tailgate aside, there are lots of, ahem, ‘mounting points’, which were of great help to our photographers and videographers. In fact, the brilliant suspension, which delivers a flat and consistent ride made our lives really easy for tracking shots.
The Lodgy proved its practicality in various areas; like when one of our staffers wanted to take his bicycle for a routine service check or for airport runs. The luggage-swallowing ability of the Lodgy made it the logical choice for such duties.
The 110hp 1.5 litre diesel engine, six-speed gearbox and some of the running gear are the same proven mechanicals of the Duster, so it’s no surprise then that this MPV didn’t falter even under hard use. However, it has some of the Duster’s drawbacks too. The clutch has always been a bit heavy and bites only near the top of the pedal’s travel. If that did take some getting used to, it was on the highway that the engine really excelled. Its tall sixth gear really felt at home here, even when the car was packed with people and things.
The Lodgy gets a touchscreen infotainment system that doubles as a display for the rear camera; you surely need this to pack this massive MPV into tight parking spots. The sound system isn’t bad either, and the automatic speed-sensing volume feature is quite useful. On a related note, I did get quite familiar with the oddly-placed steering column-mounted audio controls that are hidden from view.
While the Lodgy had its list of positives, there were a few weak areas. The front seats were comfortable on short drives, but our staffers found them to be unsupportive on long journeys. Also, the seat height-adjust system felt cheaply executed and awkward to use. The third row of seats was used minimally, but when we did, it was not easy to access, and because there is no space under the middle row captain seats, legroom for the last row can become an issue.
Flat front seats need a bit more cushioning for long drives.
During my time with the Lodgy, what I found taxing was driving it in the terrible stop-and-go traffic of Mumbai because of the engine-gearbox combination. This motor, as mentioned earlier, is great on the highway, but the evident turbo lag gets a tad annoying in the city. I had a chance to drive the less-powerful 85PS Lodgy as well, and that motor proved to be more tractable and pulled more eagerly from low revs.
To sum it up, our Lodgy long-termer was on the road longer than any other car in our fleet. With a spacious cabin, consistently good ride quality and a highway-friendly engine, it is with good reason that we hail Renault’s large MPV an ideal workhorse.