A flying trip to Barcelona held an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
I had the pleasure of a taxi ride from Barcelona Airport to the CCIB conference centre on the seafront. The driver was very capable, making smooth but very pacey progress, but what really impressed me was the vehicle.
I am (or was) a Dacia virgin and am now a convert. The Lodgy to which I was exposed was a revelation.
Yes, the interior was relentlessly charcoal in hue. Yes, the plastics were relentlessly hard. Yes, the interior design was old-school and full of old bits from earlier generation Renaults. Yes, the overall impression was that the interior had not really been styled, or designed, rather that it had been engineered. There are no surprise-and-delight touches, no frills and it’s all a bit plain – like a van.
However, I was impressed with so many things.
First, the car was super spacious – with an enormous boot and loads of leg and head room. Also, in spite of the dark trim, the big windows mean that it’s airy and possessed of decent visibility.
Second, the ride was great. I’ve just posted a piece (which I started writing just before I left from Barcelona) on the C4 Cactus and praised its ride, but this was almost as good and felt like a proper old-school Renault. I know that the roads in Spain are very good, much better than the average stretch of tarmac in the UK, but the deftness of the damping and body control was a revelation. Nor did the car roll unduly as the driver catapulted us into corners.
So too was (third) the rolling refinement. The ride was quiet. Nothing rattled (build quality felt really tight). The engine (I could not tell whether it was petrol or diesel from the back seat – it was more likely the latter) was smooth and quiet.
The external styling is, again, functional, almost industrial to my eye. I quite like the rear lamps, which are a bit different. There are a couple of feature-lines over the front and rear wheel arches which I think I could rather do without. But its honest and quite charming, bringing to mind cars like the original Panda, the Kangoo and even (I think it’s the DLO) the Scenic.
To check that I was not being influenced by the overall feel-good of being in Barcelona, I had the chance to compare and contrast on the reverse trip with a Ford Torneo Connect, which is conceptually similar, I think.
The Ford is definitely more ‘normal’ and plush, and looks much like a previous generation Focus or Fiesta in terms of dashboard design – i.e. like an over-styled, oversized, mid-noughties Nokia. The Torneo also had that taut compliancy that I love about the chassis of most modern Fords. However, in most objective ways, I did not feel the Ford was markedly superior to the Dacia, and, in some respects, I preferred the practical honesty of the Dacia.
The Lodgy also looks like it is quite remarkable value, although it does not seem to be for sale in the UK (anymore?), but the pricing I saw seemed to place it between £9k up to £15k. UK pricing for the Torneo Connect is between £21k and £25k.
As the French say, ‘CQFD’.