What is it?
With the Toyota pushing the Innova further upmarket, there exists a large gap between it and the Ertiga and Enjoy, one that the Lodgy fills nicely in size and price. But its staid and very van-like upright stance isn’t very appealing, especially to private buyers. Enter the Stepway, a stylish and rugged-looking version of the familiar MPV tasked with bringing in some appeal to the Lodgy.
What’s it like on the outside?
The Lodgy Stepway gets additional body cladding along its sides, unique front and rear bumpers and new-design 16-inch eight-spoke “Panache” alloys painted in matte grey shade. Like the standard model, the Stepway is also powered by the 1.5-litre K9k diesel unit with different power outputs and transmission choices. The less powerful 85hp model gets a five-speed unit, while the 110ps model is mated to a six-speed gearbox and is available in higher trims.
What is it like on the inside?
The cabin is fairly spacious for six adults. The top-spec trim gets art-leather seat covers with dual-tone shade that matches with the overall look of the cabin which is replete with dark brown, beige and piano black finish for the centre console. The Lodgy Stepway also gets the same Renault Media-NAV infotainment system as other Renault offerings, including the Duster and the popular Kwid. The MPV does not offer automatic climate control but does come with a separate condenser and blower mounted behind the first row. Driver and passenger seats are comfortable, although a bit flat. The second row does tumble forward but still leaves little space for access to the third row which is wide enough for two adults to sit comfortably. But the high floor results in a knees-up seating position.
What is it like to drive?
We got to sample the top-spec Lodgy Stepway equipped with the 110hp motor around Mumbai. Being mechanically identical to the regular Lodgy, the Stepway drives the same. This means that the power delivery from the K9k motor is linear. There is turbo-lag, which gets annoying in slow city traffic. The Lodgy feels the best on open roads. The less powerful 85hp variant is more drivable in city traffic. I do remember the heavy clutch of our erstwhile long-term Lodgy, but to my surprise, the Stepway’s clutch was lighter which did help during bumper-to-bumper traffic. The ride quality, a Renault hallmark, is pliant and the suspension absorbs most bumps easily.
Should I buy one?
The Lodgy Stepway is Renault’s attempt to separate its private clientele from fleet buyers. It still looks very much a Lodgy, and may not still have the private car appeal of an Ertiga. But its beefed-up looks coupled with the new 16-inch alloys do give it a certain rugged-yet-classy appearance. Its solid mechanicals and a spacious cabin are a big plus over the Maruti MPV. It is very much a full-size MPV and at Rs 11.55 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it won't break the bank like a Crysta. On the whole, if you find the Stepway even halfway appealing, go ahead and give it a serious look.