India loves its MUVs or multi utility vehicles. Almost every consumer wants more from his car. The car should be able to take seven or eight people comfortably and it should have good fuel efficiency. It ought to be affordable and the looks also must be good. On paper the barring is the last option but the Renault Lodgy ticked every other box. The new Lodgy Stepway from Renault is a step in covering that last box. Making a 7 seater MUV look good is not an easy task. But a company that has cars like the Duster and the Kwid in its portfolio in India knows a thing or two when it comes to make attractive cars. The French car maker is hoping to replicate the same with the Lodgy Stepway.
There are 16 new enhancements inside and outside that make the Stepway different from the Regular Lodgy. The front is attractive with an all chrome grille that is well textured. Add to that, the swept back headlamps and the silver skid plates and the front one makes it very attractive. The fog lamps are surrounded with plastic cladding that is present in the wheel arches and all along the profile. A nice looking roof rail, also, adds a touch of sportiness. But still in terms of proportions the Lodgy still looks a bit asymmetrical. It also feels like you’re looking at two different cars from the front and rear, but if you look at what the Lodgy was originally and what they’ve done now with the Stepway there’s a stark difference between the two. The 16 inch panache alloy wheels also add a bit of style, again a feature that many SUV makers do not focus too much on. The Stepway decals also gives a nice touch and that extra bit of identity doesn’t cause too much harm.
The Lodgy Stepway carries forward the same touch screen system seen on the Kwid and the Duster. While does provide for features like navigation and a rear parking camera, the quality of touch can certainly be better. Using the same system in all their cars might be viable for Renault but maybe the Lodgy or even the Duster buyer may not like that it’s using the same system used in the Kwid. You do expect a superior system when you’re spending so much more. Some other features worth mentioning are central locking with keyless entry, headlight turn on reminder, 8–way adjustable driver’s seat, electrically adjustable ORVMs, gear shift indicator and 12V charging sockets across 3 rows. In terms of space, the Lodgy is far ahead of others. Even the third row has good space and the access owing to captain seats is very easy. Also, all the rows get their individual AC vents. The original volume of the boot, because of the third row, stands at 207 liters but fold the second and third row of seats and that goes up to 1861 liters.
The Lodgy Stepway runs on the tried and tested 1.5 liter diesel engine that has proved its mettle on a lot of other cars in India from the Renault Nissan brand. There are two variations here; one is a 5-speed 85 PS motor and the other a more powerful 6-speed 110 PS mill. This has changed from the previous car when the Lodgy Stepway was available with just the 110 PS engine. Peak torque figure for the 110 PS motor stands at 245 Nm and most of that is available post 1750 rpm and that works well for a car in this segment. A good slick gearbox also plays its part and the gear changes are pretty seamless. The claimed fuel efficiency on the 110PS variant is 19.98 kmpl while the 85PS variant delivers even better 21.04 kmpl. The noise also is kept in check and despite being a diesel not much of the engine sound gets into the cabin.
The good thing is that unlike earlier, now there are two variants of the Stepway per engine which just gives the consumer more options to choose from.
Ride & Handling
What continues from the Lodgy onto the Stepway is the MUVs impeccable ride quality. The car takes to the bumps and potholes with ease and all the rows provide for a good ride. And despite being of this shape, body roll is also kept in check to a good extent. However there are some things Renault and try and work on in the Lodgy. These include a hard clutch and the heavy feel of the steering wheel. But what aids in a more convenient drive is cruise control, for safer drive are dual airbags. When driving a MUV like the Lodgy the best part is the driving position. You get a very clear view of the road and while going forward there’s hardly a blind spot that hampers the view of the driver.
The good thing is that unlike earlier, now there are two variants of the Stepway per engine which just gives the consumer more options to choose from. A starting price of Rs. 9.43 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) is also attractive enough to pull the consumer to the nearest Renault showroom. Despite that, taking on brands like Maruti and Toyota is never an easy task.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars