Space, comfort and accessibility
The spacious cabin never felt claustrophobic thanks to the large windows, oodles of headroom and shoulder room. The AC vents in all three passenger rows provided a welcome relief in the sweltering summer. The seats are nicely bolstered and the arm rests add to the support. This makes time-consuming city drives extremely comfortable. Still squeezing three adults in the third row only means adding to the discomfort of the otherwise two happy occupants.
The most important thing worth appreciating is that getting inside is very easy. Generally, MPVs have a high ingress point and passengers have to climb into the cabin. However, the Lodgy’s low ingress makes it simpler to just slide on to the front and back seats. Also, access to the third row isn't much of an issue barring the effort required to lift the heavy middle seats.
The task of keeping me and the passengers entertained was nicely done by the touch screen infotainment system connected to four speakers. The unit looks good in the well-laid out dash and has a clean and functional design. Ergonomics are good, but the placement of the USB and AUX slots at the top make the wires dangle before the screen. Otherwise, the screen is bright enough even for sunlight legibility and has crisp tactile feedback. The menu is easy to navigate through and the sound quality is also decent enough.
Communication and navigation
Pairing your phone through Bluetooth is easy and the microphone picks up your voice very well. However, going through the functions of the in-built navigation is a bit complex and I solely relied on Google maps on my phone instead. Besides the buttons on the multi-function steering wheel are for the cruise control system. Volume and other controls are on a stalk just behind the steering wheel. This felt a bit weird at the start, but I easily got used to it.
The 110PS K9K diesel mill never felt strained or overworked. Fuel efficiency in the city came down to 11-12kmpl (from highway figures of 14-16kmpl), which is fair enough for a 1,368kg MPV being driven in peak traffic. The diesel engine's clatter does seem a bit loud outside, but one can barely hear the motor inside. In fact, the only noise I experienced in the quiet cabin was the wind hitting the mirrors and that too at high speeds. The engine is refined even if the turbo lag under 1,800rpm is very apparent. Nonetheless, once the needle crosses this point the engine doesn't break a sweat and a good amount of torque keeps the car going. There was no need to keep working through the gears again and again.
Slow speed ride is as good as the high speed ride. Even though the Lodgy has a big steering, it's light and quick to respond, making it feel car-like to drive. The short gear throws are nice, but my only concern is the heavy clutch. Continuous driving in traffic does induce some pain in the left leg. Otherwise, it is a breeze to drive the Lodgy.
Parking a huge van is a difficult task isn't it? Thankfully, not in the case with the Lodgy. Firstly, there is good frontal and rear visibility due to the large windshields and adjustable high seating position. Secondly, its slab-sided design makes it easy to park. And finally, the rear view camera with guidelines grants good visibility, slotting the huge car in a tight spot with ease.
Next month, we will give out our final long term report of the Renault Lodgy.
Pictures by Kapil Angane