Interestingly, I once helped a friend move house in a BMW 5-series we had on test. Okay, granted, it was only a few boxes that fit neatly in the Bimmer’s boot, but what I learnt from that experience was, in a pinch, you can find at least some utility in just about any car these days. Then it was time for me to move house, and I do admit, for about 30 seconds, I did consider using my long-term Maruti Dzire for the job. It’s got a pretty big boot in its third-gen guise, I reasoned, and if I also put some stuff on the back seat, I could probably finish the move in about… seven trips.
NO LEVERAGE: Flimsy driver’s seat height-adjust mechanism is a pain.
Nope, that just wasn’t going to work. So, of course, I settled for nothing less than our Lodgy Stepway. There are other big cars in the Autocar fleet, make no mistake, but none are quite as commodious as the big Renault. The Tata Hexa is huge, for instance, but the amount of actual space you can use is surprisingly little, and even SUVs like the Compass and Tucson, with their rear seats folded down, can only do so much. The Lodgy, though designed primarily for the transportation of humans, is actually incredibly capable as a mover of things, too.
INSTA-VAN: More luggage than people? Leave the third row behind.
For one, unlike some other MPVs, it uses a monocoque chassis that’s far more space efficient, so the volume on the inside is not too much less than the size on the outside. This sort of chassis also allows it to ride lower to the ground, making loading and unloading stuff easier. And then there’s just the fact that the square shape of the Lodgy – aft of the bonnet, of course – means you can really pack it to the roof with stuff. And so I did.
RIDE ON: Superb ride comfort is something common to all Renaults.
One trip was all it took. I had the option of chucking out the third row of seats entirely for a flat floor, but I didn’t need to. With a few easy tumbles and folds of the second and third rows, I managed to cram my entire life into the back of the car – 40-inch television, traditional Burmese cane hat and lucky Aloe Vera plant included – and I still had plenty of room to spare.
CLEAN-UP DRIVE: Light-coloured interiors pick up dirt easily and visibly.
Actually, it wasn’t that easy getting hold of the Lodgy Stepway, because it is also the camera car of choice for almost every shoot of ours. I had to plan my shift around it – on a day that nobody had any shoots lined up; and those are few and far between. The video team just loves it for its comfy yet stable ride, big tailgate opening and low floor, all of which help them take beautiful, low-angle tracking shots smoothly and easily. And the big, comfy chairs mean they can all have a peaceful snooze on the ride home after a long day of shooting. And anyone tasked with driving it to, from and on these shoots loves how efficient the 1.5-litre diesel engine is. Our one gripe – because the upholstery and many of the plastics are beige, and because this car sees so much use – is it does get very dirty very fast, and right now, it could do with a nice car spa session. After saving me six to-and-fro trips between my old and new homes, it’s definitely earned it.
2017 Renault Lodgy Stepway long term review, first report