Renault first tasted success in India with the Duster. This popular SUV is the sole pillar in the company’s product portfolio on which Renault’s fortunes in India rest. Now, after three years, the French company has come up with its next important model — the Lodgy — which promises to strengthen Renault’s Indian portfolio significantly. The Lodgy might be Renault’s first MPV for India, but the French automaker is no stranger to people movers. In fact, 30 years ago, it invented the segment with the Espace. But here in India, this sector is already flocked by popular brands like Maruti and Honda. So do the MPV innovators have a trick up their sleeve?
The Lodgy — which retails in the price range of Rs 8.19-11.79 lakh — falls bang in between the compact (Ertiga, Mobilio) and the larger ladder frame MPVs like the Aria and Innova. This has landed the Renault MPV in a strategic sweet spot to tempt potential buyers from either end of the segment. We have tested the more powerful 108.6bhp diesel to see if the Lodgy is all the MPV you’ll ever need.
Unlike most of its rivals, the Lodgy is only available with a diesel heart — the popular 1.5-litre K9K. With a single camshaft for its eight valves, this four-cylinder motor may not be cutting-edge in terms of technology, but it is a very flexible unit. Like on the Duster, this motor is available on the Lodgy in two states of tune – 83bhp and 108.6bhp – with different turbochargers and injection systems responsible for the varied power output. Also, the ECUs used by the motor on the two variants are different. The more powerful version tested here, THP in Renault-terms, gets a variable-geometry turbo (as opposed to the fixed-geometry turbo on the 83bhp version) and also comes with an intercooler.
The 1.5-litre diesel motor pulls really well once revs rise beyond 2000rpm and carries on till 4000rpm, after which the power tails off. When the roads open up, the powerful mid-range means, as long as you are not in sixth gear, it’s easy to overtake cars at typical highway speeds. However, while the final cog doesn’t help you gather pace quickly, it’s a great cruising tool that keeps the engine spinning at just about 2,000rpm at 100kph – great for stretching your fuel tank.
The Lodgy sprints to 100kph from standstill in 11.5 seconds, making it, by far, the fastest MPV on sale here. That said, the motor’s initial turbo lag and the slightly heavy and snappy clutch make driving this Renault in stop-go traffic a little cumbersome. However, off-boost power isn’t too bad, and unless you really want to make quick progress, it won’t warrant many downshifts.
This engine is mated to Renault’s six-speed TL4 manual gearbox, and while it doesn’t require much effort, the gearshifts could have been more precise. To aid drivability, Renault has kept first, second and third gears on the shorter side, which allows you to keep the engine on song in typical city driving circumstances. And the fourth, fifth and sixth gears are tall, to aid relaxed highway cruising.
On our city cycle, the Lodgy returned 12.3kpl, and 17.5kpl on the highway. These figures are very impressive when you consider the car’s size and weight. The frugal motor combined with the large 50-litre fuel tank gives the Lodgy a phenomenal range of 750km between fuel stops.