A motorcycle trip that wasn’t to be resulted in me looking for a four-wheeled substitute. My wife strongly dislikes the Yamaha FZ25’s pillion seat and – while enthusiastic about motorcycle travel, in general – developed cold feet at the prospect of a 500km round trip just a day before our scheduled departure. The alternative prerequisite, therefore, was a car with ample space for luggage, effortless highway cruising and a good music system – we motorcyclists like to keep it simple, right? My search ended with the keys to the Renault Lodgy being flung at me.
Frankly, the Lodgy was too much sheet metal for what was meant to be a two-member weekend getaway, but I like most Renaults for their simplicity and the Lodgy was no different. I am not an enthusiastic driver and the Lodgy definitely matched my spiritedness (the lack of it, that is). At 90kph, it felt at home cruising down the mostly arrow-straight and featureless NH8 towards Gujarat. And while it didn’t mind being pushed to do triple-digit speeds intermittently, it was in its element in top gear, revving under 3,500rpm.
The 1.5-litre dCi engine with 245Nm of torque is a proven unit, particularly for its mid-range, and the six-speed gearbox adds to the Lodgy’s highway-friendly demeanor. Though I didn’t miss a few extra horses, a quieter cabin would have been pleasant, to say the least. Thankfully, the engine is tractable enough for you to be able to short-shift through the gearbox and take it to its quieter reaches.
The Lodgy is a very practical family MPV, especially considering that it offers Innova-levels of space (if not the premium-ness) for a price tag which isn’t as intimidating. I particularly appreciated the outward visibility, thanks to the generous all-around glass area, which adds to the cabin’s bright and airy feeling. However, the interior itself is modest in terms of features and it definitely lacks sophistication, visually and to the touch. While this didn’t concern me, I do wonder if this makes for a (or takes away from the) value proposition to prospective buyers.
The tail end of my journey to Daman and Udvada was interrupted by a few stretches of bad tarmac. It was here that I felt a bit let down by the Lodgy. For what is a generous car, when it comes to cabin space, it isn’t quite as pliant over undulations. This certainly dented the impression it made on me as the ideal holiday car. Given that you cannot ever get anywhere in India without encountering bad roads, the unimpressive damping levels on this car are an area of concern for those looking to live with it and do justice to its intended purpose. It handles like an MPV too and, while I don’t mind its unambitious dynamics, its two ends do feel disconnected under hard cornering when the need for it arises.
While it isn’t exciting in any aspect, it offers decent equipment in this variant (RX-Z reminds you of a certain Yamaha, eh?) for a non-car anorak such as myself. The display screen isn’t the most contemporary unit out there but the audio package is acceptable. I took a while to adapt to the audio-control pod mounted behind the steering wheel. The controls, however, feel nicely built, without being exceptional in any way. I didn’t try the cruise control unit (blame the motorcycling genes), but what mattered to me more were the numerous and generously sized stowage options offered in the Lodgy – indeed helpful when you are obsessive about not fumbling for paperwork, phones, cash, and mint.
Overall, the Lodgy was the least fun alternative to a motorcycle I could have laid my hands on; my 28-year-old Premier Padmini would have been more entertaining. However, I do admire it for being a hassle-free, roomy and efficient MPV that definitely delivers in the areas that really matter. Next time, I’ll just try harder to convince my wife!