Test drive: Dacia Lodgy Stepway 1.5 dCI 110 image

If everything you are looking for in a car is a lot of interior space to fit all your family and friends, then do not bother searching elsewhere. This boxy affordable 7-seater is roomier than a bus and it also comes with a go-anywhere crossover-ish styling.

The Renault-owned Romanian budget brand Dacia has evolved in recent years, both in quality and line-up wise. It is not marching with a fast pace, as the French automaker has to keep the affordable approach, but it does it quite steadily. Dacia has also moved beyond the phase of launching only reasonably-priced cars, for which the exterior styling is the last worry. The Stepway line is the direct result of this tactic. It proved to be a successful approach, as the small Sandero hatchback has been well received in Europe, along with its crossover body armor. Based on such a positive feedback, the brand decided to apply this trim on its Dokker van and Lodgy MPV as well.

Dacia Lodgy Stepway 4

Design. Interior. Trims
The Lodgy 7-seater is the embodiment of Dacia’s philosophy, the best offering in the segment in terms of value for money. And it also comes with a Stepway version for those who crave for the outdoor look that is usually to be seen within crossovers’ territory. There are some sculpted front and rear bumpers with satin-chrome skidplates, black moldings surrounding the car, metal-colour finish on the roof bars or rearview mirrors and aluminum wheel rims, a package that definitely brings some character to this boxy bus.

Now, imagine you are having a big gathering with your friends and you spontaneously decide to be adventurous and hit the road. Or you are just planning to take your entire family, kids, parents and parents in law, on a holiday. Well, you will probably need just one car, as Dacia’s MPV has room for everyone. At 4.5 meters long and with a 3.0-meter wheelbase, Lodgy has the most spacious cabin within its class by a mile, for the price of a B-segment model. It starts only from around 11,200 euros, with an extra 1,350 euros for the Stepway style, which is around 6,000 euros cheaper than a Ford Grand C-Max, for example.

Dacia Lodgy Stepway 10

First of all, the access on the third row is quite easy and once you get there you realize the two extra seats have not been put there just for youngsters. Knee and shoulders space is good enough for grown-ups as well and it does not give a claustrophobic feel. In addition, there are cup holders and those third row windows can be slightly cracked-open as well. There are many cars out there that are not providing such a relaxed ride on their back seats as Lodgy is proposing with its “trunk-placed” ones. Now imagine how much space there is on the second row; more than enough for three passengers, with plenty of head room even for a 6.5 feet-tall person.

The loading capacity evidently matches the whole space-is-all that-matters concept behind Lodgy. The boot volume with all seats up is a decent 207 dm3, while folding the two rear ones boosts the cargo area to 634d m3. Do you need any more? Then tip them forward and strap them against the second row seat to uncover a 1,861 dm3 volume. They can also be easily removed, for a maximum volume of 2,617dm3 with the second row tipped forward.

Dacia Lodgy Stepway 14

Stepping in front, you notice right way why Dacia models are so affordable, with harsh and scratchy plastics everywhere. Even if it does not have a Renault-like ambiance, the cockpit is robustly built overall. You will also get the basics for the money, such an AC, electric windows, trip computer, cruise control, speed limiter, MP3 audio system with Bluetooth, dash-mounted USB and jack sockets and a steering wheel mounted fingertip remote control. As optional features, there is a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system available for around 300 euros, parking sensors and heated seats.

On the plus side, the car has a very practical storage space, located in the upper part of the dashboard, with a capacity of up to three liters. Additionally, there is another series of other storage places throughout the cabin, which summed up make approximately 30 liters. On the minus side, the glovebox is placed rather low, the doors pockets are small and the space between the two front seats is not used to its full potential.

Dacia Lodgy Stepway 8

On the road
A diesel engine is the best choice when it comes to Lodgy Stepway, so that it can cope with the extra load that it supposedly carries around. Pushing the price up to 15,000 euros will buy you a Renault-sourced 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine producing 107 horsepowers, same as the car driven here. The unit is helped by a six manual transmission, with some tall gears and an ECO function to support this boxy people carrier in its task to be as fuel-efficient as possible. Therefore, the engine starts to respond effectively over 2,000 rpm, returning around 5.0 liter/100 km when cruising peacefully with your family.

The cabin is surprising well insulated from the not-so-refined dCi. However, when running with over 130 km/h on highways, the buss starts fighting with the air and the wind noise becomes quite noticeable. In this case, the fuel figures swiftly jump to nearly 8.0 l/100 km. While the overall performance is not to be disowned, with a 0 to 100 km/h “sprint” of 11.6 seconds up to a top speed of 175 km/h, the handling is not Lodgy’s strong suit as you might have imagined. The ride is soft, the steering is numb and the body roll matches its stance. You will have to look elsewhere for a trilling and posher MPV, as this 7-seater was developed with other features in mind.

Dacia Lodgy Stepway 19

Final words
With the Lodgy Stepway, Dacia has brought to the table what the brand knows to do best. It is the most spacious MPV you can find in this segment, far cheaper that its rivals’ offerings, inexpensive to run as well, and with a trendy body trim. Some compromise has to be made at this price tag, as the materials in the cockpit are not very appealing, while the handling is below class average. But Renault’s budget marque has managed to attract many pragmatic buyers throughout Europe since 2008, when the economic crisis has blown up the world, and its steady upward sales trend shows that Dacia has found the right balance between the technical package and price. And Lodgy is one of the best examples.

Technical specs:

Price
Starting price
Dacia Lodgy Stepway 1.6 MPI 102 CP, 5M – 12,550 EUR
Tested version
Dacia Lodgy Stepway 1.5 dCi 110, 6M – 15,000 EUR

Engine
1,461 cc four cylinders, direct common rail,
Power: 107 HP (79 kW) at 4,000 rpm
Torque: 240 Nm at 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual

Dimensions
Length – 4,521 mm, Width – 1,767 mm, Height – 1,679 mm, Wheelbase – 3,000 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 liters
Trunk Capacity: 207 / 1,861 / 2,617 liters
Weight: 1,205 kg

Performances
0 – 100 km/h: 11.6 s
Top Speed: 175 km/h
Fuel consumption: urban – 5.3 l/100 km, extra urban – 4.0 l/100 km, average – 4.4 l/100 km

Rating
4.2 / 5