Back in 2015 Renault decided to hit the MPV market. With the likes of the Innova dominating this segment, brands like Chevrolet and Maruti launched the Enjoy and Ertiga. Though they did well, Ertiga way better than the Enjoy, they could not even shake the Innova’s foundation. India would see a strong contender in Lodgy and two years later, Renault has made this contender even stronger. We drive the Renault Lodgy Stepway and share our detailed experience.
Moment the car approached us the first thing that flashes in front of your eyes was the chrome grill or as Renault puts it the jewel-studded front grill. This looks similar to the idea that Mercedes had applied to the A-class some time back and I have to say that is not a bad thing at all. I mean I am a Pao and I love bling, just as long as it suits the time, situation and place and here it did. There is also a nice chrome strip on top of the grill that blends with the chrome Renault logo in the centre. At the base of the bumper there is a skid plate which also has chrome which is flanked on both side by the fog lamps surrounded by silver cladding which is further surrounded by fibre cladding. Renault has tried really hard to combine elegance with a rugged look and somehow it has managed to work. Just above the chrome skid plate is a honeycomb grill which indeed looks beautiful.
The cladding around the lights flows to the side and over the wheel arcs on the front fender and back down and along the whole length of the running board. Guess what! more chrome strips on the cladding. Further on, this cladding flows never endingly onto the rear fender and over the rear wheel arch and onto the rear bumper which again has chrome in the centre. The number of times I have said chrome in this article, would challenge someone to say it all in one breadth. Stepping back to the front the windscreen is big just like the car and I expect a good view from the driver’s seat. Moving on the the side the nice muscular line on the front fender adds to the tough appeal. Now we realise how big this car is. The cabin area seems to be like a mini room on wheels. Just to differentiate this car from the rest Renault have put the STEPWAY badge on the front door which is elegantly placed. The 16 inch gunmetal finish alloys grabbed my attention and Renault is calling them the R16 Panache alloy wheels. The roof rails too have a dark metal finish which is excellent considering the overdose of chrome. Renault has done some changes to the tail lamps and is now calling them the arrowhead tail lamps. There is yet again a huge chrome strip over the no plate which has Lodgy written all over it. The rear windscreen now gets s rear wiper as well.
Now that we have seen the whole lodge from the outside, it’s time to get comfortable inside. We got in with the feeling “ apna hi ghar samjho”!!! The new tag line for this car is “Family comes first”! And that holds very true for the Renault Lodgy Stepway . You can literally travel with your family in this car. (Mom,Dad,Wife,2 kids and a small dog). And 2nd row onwards there is little place for the dog to run between 2nd and 3rd row. The 3 pointed steering now gets steering mounted controls and has a light grey tint with steering mounted controls on both sides. The Instru cluster has a simple layout. The speedometer in the centre flanked by tachometer on the left and an information display on the right. The dash is a dual tone light grey and beige which feels elegant. What I really loved was the top centre of the dash has a storage area and a cover to it. That is not seen in any car before. Very nice attention to detail.
The centre console is made up of 7-inch infotainment system which is a touch screen and now has bluetooth connectivity with aux and usb connection along with iPod/iPhone connection and maps. I have to admit these maps worked very well along the drive. Just above the screen are two a/c vents which have a chrome ring and so do the other a/c vents on the dash board. I guess the company won a lottery with chrome. It was disheartening to see that with all this luxury the car does not get an automatic climate control, but the a/c worked pretty well in the Mumbai heat. Speaking of A/C there are roof mounted a/c vents which has controls for the fan speed. These work very well to cool the entire cabin in spite of Mumbai being so close to the sun. And as always the gear knob too has a chrome head. The left side of the dash further has a storage space and a glove box below it. Weirdly it glove box opens downwards and makes it quite difficult to put or remove things. The doors and seats are a mixture of beige and light grey that blend well. The seats have leather upholstery or as Renault Lody Stepway put it Gris Fume and Beige coloured premium leather blended upholstery.
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The diamond shape design is something you would ideally find in premium cars with Nappa leather. Now Renault says you get a 7-8 seater option. The one that I got was a 7 seater with captain seats that were made famous by the Innova. Both the seats get an armrest and are quite comfortable. Now they recline too. Unfortunately the seats don’t slide and though they have a good leg fall there are a bit too close to the front seats. My knees were almost brushing into the driver’s seat and I am a sub 6 foot person so I am not very tall. Considering the captain seats I had enough space to get to the 3rd row without folding the seats and the last too had space to sit. Unlike most MPV’s that have a 3rd row for name sake.
This icing on the cake was that for the 2nd row there are flight trays. You can either have a sandwich or work on your notebook/iPad. It also has a glass holder. Another goodie added was a 12V socket is present on each row. So while you use that Ipad never run out of juice unless you know you forget the cable unfortunately that was something Renault won’t provide. Even with all the seats up the car still has a 207 litre boot space which turns into a massive 1861 litres if the seats are folded. The rear seats have a 60:40 split ratio again which is a rarity. After checking out the house I said let me check if I could be entertained in this room. So I connected my phone to the infotainment system which was pretty simple and I am emphasising on this as some cars have the infotainment system so confusing it takes centuries to connect. I was pleasantly surprised that no matter how loud I made the volume, the bass did not jar. This a big thumbs up from me as I am a huge music buff and music plays a key role to my drives.
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Initially I took to the co-driver’s seat as my friend wanted to drive. I tried to keep my camera into the glove box but as I mentioned above the down facing lid was a pain. I focused on the enjoying the music and what a delight it was. We took the road to marine drive and there was some road repair work going on. The suspension was soft and soaked the vibrations due to the undulations. But if major bumps there was a lot of body roll. We almost missed a turn and took it a bit to sharp, and honestly speaking it was not at all pleasant. Frankly I was happy I did not drink much water as I would have wet my pants. What surprised me was the car had good pickup even in 1st gear. The 245 Nm torque kicked in really early at at 1750 rpm as we were driving the 1.5 litre 6-speed 107 bhp car. Now the HP wasn’t much but that is some massive torque that kicks in very early. Zipping through traffic was easy, and our ride would be exceptional if not for the body roll. We stopped at marine drive for a photo shoot and mera andar ka photographer jaag utha. The most fun I had was sitting on the divider to use it as a desi jugaad for a tripod as honestly I do not have sturdy hands and the night view of my camera was pathetic. After a very long shoot it was time for my Michael Schumacher skills to come out. I was hoping my friend would not puke. The 1st thing that came to my notice was that the clutch was relatively hard. Was it the new car or just the Renault Lodgy Stepway I was not sure. But the gear shifts were very smooth and precise.
After I got adjusted to the clutch things became better. Also the steering was surprisingly heavy. But it lightened up as the car was in motion. The good side was the steering had good feedback and was precise. This was typical of all Renault cars. The a/c chilled fast and the music seemed to set the mood. As we approached Worli the traffic seemed to get dence and sudden braking became a constant. The braking progression was not to my liking. Initially there was a lot of play and seem as if the brakes won’t work but on pushing hard they bring the car to a halt with a jerk. The brakes too took getting used too but was fine after a while. As we headed from Worli sea face and onto the Bandra-Worli sealink the night lights and the music seems to perform magic and kinda put my soul at peace. What impressed me was that the was no turbo lag and the car pulled in all gears reducing the shifts irrespective the rpm. I guess that huge torque is to blame. The Renault Lodgy Stepway has the same engine like the regular Lodgy.
There were some owner of the regular Lodgy that passed us and were staring at our car. I hope Renault provides some of the add on of the Lodgy Stepaway as accessories for the regular Lodgy. The cabin was silent and isolated the engine and outside noise well. This is something that you don’t find even in the much more expensive Innova. And just as we started to sing songs of praise there was a rattling sound from the dash every time we hit a bump of bad undulations of the road. Finally we reached out venue at BKC and I was genuinely kinda sad that the drive had to end.
Renault is offering so much from a price point of 9.5 lakhs to 11.5 lakhs ex-showroom delhi which is outstanding. And they should really look and improve on the small niggles as they can really spoil the whole wonderful experience that this car has to offer. The get away comes in 2 variants, 2 engine option and 2 seating options.