Saturday, June 27, 2015

And we tamed the beast- The Renault Lodgy!

Well, a photo-blogger writing a car review could turn out to be rather funny but then I'll try and make it slightly interactive. Oh shucks...I already mentioned that you are about to step into a rather drab "Review" post but then be rest assured, this is not going to be taxing enough (hehe, did I just stamp my own feet?). Whatever..the point is, whenever you are on the driver's seat, you must be safe and comfortable in the first place and ambitious in the second. Infact, that's what my automobile freak dad proclaims and rightly so, the Indian roads do not even remotely simulate the F1 feeler...even a second's transgression could be cataclysmic; that on a family trip could be calamitous to say the least. Having said that, countering my dad's appurtenant questions would certainly pose a bigger challenge than driving on the bustling Indian roads; oh yes...that's the disadvantage of having a top-notch automobile engineer in the family. Dude, let me tell you how excited he was when he got to know that we'll be driving the all new Renault Lodgy on the Goan highway, something that he would have loved to have done; it's interesting actually...for a man who has been a SUV-loyalist all through his life, is now vouching for a contemporary breed of the MPV. Shows that somewhere down the line, the MPV's have certainly managed to make an impact...and a recent survey says that the consumers belonging to the age group 35-40 years have a greater inclination towards buying this breed that essentially serves as a more than decent family car. There I said it...we contrived some cherished bonds in Goa and my word, all these connections were stitched in a Lodgy, yes my friend..the Lodgy did live up to it's reputation. And why not? It's the brain-child of some of the fantastic engineers from across the country, working under a single roof in the name of Renault that has pioneered in this sector right from it's inception. The Duster has been the lead exponent when we talk about numbers and customer satisfaction index, but then the Lodgy, which is Renault's first venture into the domain of MPVs in India, promises to exceed expectation. Just try and imagine the reaction of a family man (the ones who are (un?)fortunately unmarried can give it a rest) who got to see the first ever MPV (released in the year 1984)...he would have been absolutely overwhelmed. Boss, let me put it very straight...we are talking of utility cars out here and the prospect of buying a 7-8 seater with a more than decent mileage at an affordable price does tick that check-box. It absolutely goes without saying that Team Fleeting Four comprising of the ace bloggers Roshan, Senthil and Prashanth was all geared up for the big day...the Super Saturday when we tamed the beast and raged through the picturesque Goan boulevard. Infact, we were pretty much aware of the fact that we had to complete a number of tasks on the way from Cavelossim to Canacona (and return- a total stretch of approximately 70 Kilometers)...but then the experience was overwhelming enough to efface the "quest for milestones"; it was rather an unstintingly delectable ride in the Goan monsoons. Believe me, this driving experience was refreshingly different!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: That's the all new Renault Lodgy.
Photograph: Self Clicked
"Dad, we are just back from the ride. Thora sa to rest karne do"- I literally pleaded on the call. Dad had called me almost 20 times during the ride, he was virtually there with us for the major part of the jaunt...such was his excitement level.
"That can wait. First tell me which variant did you get to drive? How does it look from the outside?"- He catechized; his voice was literally trembling in ebullience...this has been the story all summer whenever I've taken a test drive and he has not been around. That goes with the caveat that he already had distinct opinion with respect to the relative prominence of all the MPVs that have been released in the Indian market till then. He had a palatable disapproval for the Honda Mobilio or the Maruti Ertiga or for a matter of fact, the overhyped Xylo because of they simply don't tick all the boxes of all-round-excellence from the perspective of being people-movers...but then apparently his initial research about the Renault Lodgy was reassuring. It did strike those chords.
Just to give you a small background, the new Renault Lodgy has been released in 2 diesel options- the 85 PS variant with a maximum torque of 200 Nm @ 1900 rpm, 5MT gearbox and a fuel efficiency of 21.04 kmpl and the 110 PS model with a maximum torque of 245 Nm @ 1750 rpm, 6MT gearbox and a fuel efficiency 19.98 kmpl. Honestly speaking, both are absolute gems!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: That's how the journey began, in the Goan monsoons..
Photograph: Self Clicked
"Dad, the 85 PS variant, that we drove looks very decent...the first impression is imposing enough, although, being an utility car...the more emphasis is on performance. The chrome grills right in front does add to the splendour and the two effective hefty headlamps with the ingrained DRL's connected by chrome strips are a value addition for sure. Even from the side-angle, the MPV looks pretty uncomplicated as if in sync with the front end..yes, there's a thin chrome strip embedded in there as well. Infact, my eyes were all glued to the 5 spoke alloy wheels that ensures better gripping along with the beautification aspect. As far as the length is concerned...I reckon the measurement of approximately 4,500 mm does the trick for me, it's substantially longer than its counterparts; it is also approximately 1,696 mm in width, that means it effectively has provision for more leg space for sure. Furthermore, even the wheel-base is decent's a well designed car for sure. Infact, the hexagonal (/arrow headed) tail-lamps create a different impression when you look at it from behind." - I explained. Yes, I did pay extra attention to the outer looks because there's a common perception that people-movers are an effective trade-off between the appearance & consummation, you can't get both together.erm..does the Lodgy dodge effectively off this delegation?

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The wheelbase and tail-lamps are impressive
Photograph: Self Clicked
"That sounds interesting....the family car that looks good on the exterior. And that brings me to the obvious question, how did you feel when you entered the car...does it borrow a lot from Duster? How spacious is it?"- Yeah, I was contemplating this very wringer, the tone had been set right and it was the time to explicate.
"Dad, you remember the very reason why we rejected the Innova? This car is capacious in true sense of the term and the essence is pretty much consistent right across the 3 rows. The fact that it accommodated three of our relatively brawny team-mates in the second row re-emphasized the fact that it's an absolute family car. When we talk about space, I'm particularly impressed with the head-room because with kids around, you would need that extra leave-way to cater to their boundless pliant exuberance. I was also impressed with the ingrained adjustable lumbar support that adds to the opulence and also the well designed driver's seat with the effective touch of ergonomics in close concord with the positioning for the steering wheel. The leather-basted reclinable seats with arm-rests are very comfortable indeed and the 360 degree view from all the seats is pretty much unhindered. Yes, these seats are pretty much foldable too...that means, when you are on a long trip, the question of "space-crunch" in accommodating the luggage doesn't even appear. That does solve a perennial headache before a fam tour.

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: That's what I mean by spacious interiors....
Photograph: Prashanth
The boot space is a whooping 207 litres to start with and my word, you can expand it to 1861 litres by making use of the foldable attributes of the second and third row seats..oh yes, the entire third row can be removed and you-know-what-I-mean-by-an-in-car-picnic-scenario. The second row leg-space, however, could be perhaps enhanced slightly since we mostly have adults sitting in there and coziness in a long drive (like that in Piku ;)) is one of their prime look-outs. Staggering isn't it? We initially had a bit of trouble in extracting the postulated boot space, but eventually we did figure it out following the pictographic dossiers attached on the back-side of the seats. Also, considering the fact that some parts of the country (especially Calcutta) are really hot and humid at this time of the year, you would certainly like to ensure an uniform air circulation right up-to the third row- Tada, the roof-mounted A.C. vents on the second and third are categorically installed to certify the, you can pretty much control the air-flow sitting at the third row itself, at your will. Dad, you do know that being a gadget freak, I have a thing or two for the ICE & the Lodgy effectively borrows the same from it's predecessor, the Duster...!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: Look at the stylish interiors, the touch of Duster...
Photograph: Self Clicked
The 7 inch touchscreen system with the added advantage of Bluetooth/USB support does add to the entertainment quotient...we also have a reverse parking sensor that is again a value add, I reckon. We did play some very evergreen nostalgic numbers while driving on the picturesque Goan roads, the sound quality is pretty impressive as well; just that the touch sensitivity could be slightly improved, I feel. The cruise control and navigation frameworks add practicality in the entire scheme of things. Furthermore, Renault has incorporated utility cup-holders and power-sockets to ensure a hassle-free ride. 

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: Look at the stylish interiors, the touch of Duster...
Photograph: Self Clicked
The 3-tier storage architecture is impressive too with an arresting glove compartment. I think Renault has tweaked around with the window size as well, making it sizable enough to facilitate the perfect on-road long-drive experience. Also, the fuel tank capacity is 50 Litres. Perhaps, they could have thought of incorporating a gaping bonnet too? Hehe...that's perhaps in prospect."- I was in the mood alright. To sum it up, the bliss of dual tone gris fume and beige interiors, the wonderful piano black center console with chrome surround, the leather wrapped steering, the driver's arm-rest and premium quilted leather upholstery- that does contribute to a fabulous driving experience altogether. The brand new Lodgy that had impressed us to the core.

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The 7 inch touch-screen infotainment system is a boon.
Photograph: Self Clicked
"Oh my!! Sounds amazing....and how was the driving experience? Liked it?"- Goodness gracious me. Dad was bombarding me with questions all over again. And rightly so...coming from an automobile geek cum prospective buyer, all these queries are absolutely germane. And there's a sizable sector of the population that wants to know more about the performance of a MPV over it's looks, dad was literally their venerated spokesperson. Makes all the more sense since we didn't even feel fatigued after a considerably long 70 Kilometer ride through the relatively testing terrain in Goa, that too in the monsoon. Very impressive again.

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The Renault Lodgy resting after a delectable drive....
Photograph: Self Clicked
"For a Diesel based MPV (1.5 Litre dCi engine, with lowest NVH), the Lodgy is a silent killer. It almost shields off the external cacophony whenever you are driving on the highway...the point is, why would you let the surroundings affect your smooth driving experience? Your drive should be the gateway to inner peace...and that's what exactly happened when we decided to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and concentrated only on the creamy driving experience. Just roll-up the glasses and experience the essence of peaceful, harmonious driving...been there done that. When it comes to romantic getaways, I'm sure that nobody loves distraction and in a way, Renault is indeed a mind-reader; they have bridged the gaps with amicable perfection."- I recited-"Dad, I guess you are aware of the fact that the Lodgy comes in two variants now, the 85 PS variant with a maximum torque of 200 Nm at 1900 RPM- the one that we drove and the 110 PS power-booster that delivers a maximum torque of 245 Nm at 1750 RPM; talking from the perspective of boost-up or acceleration, the Lodgy is unbelievably dashing with a top speed of 170 Km/Hr and an exponential notch up from 0-60 Km/hr in 5 seconds to about 0-100 Km/hr in just a matter of 12 seconds- that my friend adds a new dimension to the kitty, you don't expect people-carriers to be that fast considering it's weight. I did use the term "revolutionary" during the drive, my friend, it did make a lot of sense..!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The Renault Lodgy passed the acid test of a bumpy ride
Photograph: Self Clicked
The engine, my word, is absolutely power-packet and efficiently fabricated to bear such adiposity. The initial lag, though pretty prominent, is absolutely warded off as you enter the moderately high speed zone (also once you cross over the 2000 RPM revolution zone)...this might be a challenge while driving in the peak hours of the day in a certain bustling city like Calcutta but once you cross sector V and reach the wide highways of New Town...I'm sure that you'll enjoy every bit of it. Also, while driving in Goa, my mind was pretty much speeding back to Calcutta where the drive is perhaps not particularly smooth, especially with the Metro-rail-construction work in progress, the ride is invariably a bumpy one. The bigger question was, could this MPV actually end up offering a pleasant riding experience in such a scenario as well? Well, I'm an overnight MPV-loyalist-convert.

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The rear-view mirrors definitely look elegant...
Photograph: Self Clicked
The answer would be YES...we did encounter jerky, corrugated passages as well as steep bends on the way and the Lodgy negotiated those comfortably. The adaptive suspension and cruise control does ensure that it's a 360 degree assuaging driving experience with the ones in the back-seat enjoying the ride quite as much as the ones sitting in front. Also, the braking system is super sensitive and very efficient too...I vividly remember the situation when Senthil that to quickly apply the brakes to avoid a giant carrier fortuitously trespassing through on our projected trajectory. Infact, the braking power is approximately 3.5 seconds for a deceleration of 100-0 Km/Hr, that's fantastic indeed. Also the stopping distance for a quick deceleration from 80 Km/Hr-rest is approximately 35.26 m which is far less in comparison to the counterparts (~ 40m)"- I stopped to take a breather. Yes my friend, there is so much to speak about the Lodgy and it's world class features..!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The Lodgy is all geared for another scintillating ride.
Photograph: Self Clicked
"And I have also read that Renault hasn't compromised with all the possible safety measures including the Air bags, ABS, EBD...isn't it? Also heard that it's based on the very efficient Monocoque design...I did study that recently. What's your take?"- Phew! Thank God that he quickly realized that I was running late for the next session. He decided to do the counter verification.
"Oh yes, no doubt in has been of prime concern and Renault did have a response to all the itineraries of the safety checklist. And yes, the monocoque is a glorious absolutely eases the driving experience"- I absolutely rushed through my words, I had to get ready for the next Blogadda session that was scheduled at 7 PM sharp.
"One last question"- Dad pleaded... "Tell me honestly, should I consider this one? Also what's the current market price? Eh?!.."

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: The Renault Lodgy 85 PS with a fuel efficiency of 21.04 Kmpl
Photograph: Prashanth
"Dad, mark my sure does. It's fuel efficiency is around 21.04 Kmpl and is priced between 8.2 and 11.8 Lakhs (ex-showroom), that is drool worthy- it's relatively (2-3 Lakhs) cheaper than it's immediate counterparts. Also, the fact that we had always craved for a comfortable and spacious car for our joint family...does justify this prospective Lodgycal procurement. We could well consider a fam-trip to Digha or a Purulia or Mandarmani trip every alternate weekends you know...and with the Lodgy, that won't be an exhausting exercise at all- the perfect kick-starter for a new taxing week that is. It's a pretty strong lad too. However, I knew that you were a SUV-patriot by conviction...I'm happy that you asked."- I paused for a while as I sensed that Dad was itching to say something. He is hyper sensitive when it comes to car-centric-propensity, but he resisted...!

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: Honestly speaking, it's been a memorable drive in Goa...
Photograph: Roshan
" enterprising change is always, which colour did you like the most..?"- I could sense the derision in his voice by now. He was certainly finding a logical connect and developing trust with a brand that has launched as many as 5 cars in the last 18 months. Infact, Renault has expanded from 35 outlets in 2o11 to a whooping count of 157 in 2014..that's some serious expansion; it also shows it's increasing popularity talking from the Indian perspective. It has made it's presence felt in the automobile sector by grabbing 44 prestigious awards in a relatively narrow span of 3 years's been a glorious journey so far- '117 years of innovation' as they say, innovation being the key word here.
"Out of the six versions, the moon light silver would actually us Dad, bye!"- And I hung up. I knew that he was smiling! :)

The Indelible #LiveLodgycal Experience: Yeah, is Lodgy ke saaath ek photo to banta hai yaar..!
Photograph: Prashanth
I was a part of the #LiveLodgycal Drive by in association with Renault India. A major portion of this post has been written while traveling from office to the client's place in a Bolero. What a bumpy ride it was. Ahem..!! ;)

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