Spacious and cheap – but don’t expect sophistication
The Dacia Logan MCV is a utilitarian estate that could do with some refinement
Date Reviewed: January 5, 2014
Do you remember the Renault 4? If you’re of a certain age you certainly will, as reams of them were built from kits in the former Renault factory in Wexford. They were a common sight on Irish roads until motorised senility started to do for them. Rust caught up with the ones that age failed to finish off. My mum had one for years and it was always something of a faithful family wagon: spacious, mechanically simple and sponging around the place on soft, rolly French suspension. Not a great car, perhaps, but one full of character and panache, in spite of its lowly, affordable status.
Fast forward through the fog of nostalgia and we come to 2013 and the Dacia Logan MCV. Dacia is, as you will most likely know by now, Renault’s Romanian arm, cranking out affordably priced hatchbacks and crossovers, built on the cheap by dipping deep into Renault’s parts bin. They are bits of cars, combining new engines and transmissions with cheap bodies, suspension and interiors. It has proved a staggeringly successful blend for Dacia and its latest weapon in the war on high car prices is this, the Logan. Essentially, it’s a stretched version of the existing Sandero hatchback, with more metalwork and glazing out the back to turn it into an estate. Hence the MCV bit of the name – stands for (oh, dear...) maximum capacity vehicle.
Neat Germanic styling
Well, it may have a podium place in the All-Comers Silly
Car Names Steeplechase, but there’s no doubting the rightness of the Logan’s concept. It’s cheap (€11,990 for the cheapest version, €15,690 for the ritzy Signature spec version we’re testing here, and PCP plans start from €119 a month) but
not entirely cheerless. The styling is neat and quite Germanic, and if the extension out the back isn’t the prettiest piece of construction ever, then it’s certainly effective – you can cram 573 litres of luggage back there. Or you can fold down the back seats and fill it to the tune of 1,518 litres. Those figures are comparable to the likes of a Ford Mondeo estate, or a small van, and they make the Logan an amazingly practical car for the money.
That boot space hasn’t been found at the expense of rear-seat room either. There’s sufficient space for a growing family and the Logan comes with a four-star EuroNCAP safety rating too.
Cheap cabin trim
It’s also not without charm on the inside. The seats are comfy, and while you can easily poke holes (metaphorically, not literally) in the cheap cabin
trim and old-style Renault switchgear, everything works, and there’s air conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection and a plug for your iPhone.
Our test car had the 90hp 1.5 dCi diesel engine, and while going for diesel power does mean spending quite a bit extra (you’ll be a long time getting back the €2k Dacia asks for one over its most basic 1.2 petrol) there is something pleasing about sitting into such a car and seeing a distance to refuel figure of more than 1,000km. There’s not much doubt you’ll match that figure either, as we easily squeezed 55mpg out of our Logan, and a gentler right foot would doubtless achieve better. CO2 emission of 99g/km are not to be sniffed at either, giving you an annual motor tax bill of just €170.
There are issues, though. Refinement is one. There’s a ridiculous amount of boom and roar from the engine at certain speeds, primarily caused by that long, narrow body acting like a giant diesel-powered tuning fork. The ride quality needs some work too – the rear end tends to skip and hop over obstacles, and while the Logan scuttles around corners well enough, you can easily sense that front-end grip is at a premium. Sophisticated it ain’t.
Work is needed too on the build quality. With just a few kilometres on the clock, the driver’s door had already developed a loud squeak and needed a hefty shove to shut it properly. On the upside, the rear load space is nicely trimmed with relatively plush carpet – far nicer than the much more expensive, less spacious, Toyota Auris Touring Sports.
The whole idea of a Dacia is that it provides practical, utilitarian motoring at a price you can afford with just about as much comfort and convenience as you need.
But perhaps a little more attention to such issues as refinement and ride would be nice.
Still, a hard-up family in need of space could do a lot worse.