Dacia Logan MCV Estate (2016 - ) review
Looking for a big estate car for supermini money? The Logan MCV is pretty much the only show in town.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.2 The MCV in the Logan’s moniker stands for ‘maximum capacity vehicle’, so if you’re inclined to the old adage ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’, then it’s impossible not to be impressed by the Logan’s generous interior space and no nonsense practicality. While the engines are relatively new and pretty frugal too, the cabin quality is a bit on the thin side, the drive is not exactly engaging, and the refinement is pretty underwhelming. As for the boxy estate car styling; well, let’s just say the Logan has all the allure of a 1970s Moskvitch. Who cares though? Underneath, the Logan may be cobbled together using a collection of Renault-approved cast-offs, but all sums considered, how Dacia manages to offer such a lot of a spanking new car for used car money is anyone’s guess.
- Practical and spacious cabin
- Relatively frugal engines
- Most options are modestly priced
- Poor refinement
- Very limited equipment on base model
- Basic fit and finish
At a glance
The Logan definitely won’t win any beauty pageants, but what it loses in elegance and style, it makes up for with its unpretentious, no-nonsense looks. However, the details vary from trim to trim, and you need to be wary of how the extra costs can add up. For a start, if you want your Logan to come in any colour other than white, you’ll need to head to the options list and have several hundred pounds added to your bill for metallic paint. Access and Ambiance models comes with body-coloured bumpers, and plastic wheel trims, while the door handles, mirrors and roof rails are picked out in black. Top end Laureate trim has mirrors and door handles that are body-coloured, while the grille and roof bars are finished in chrome, although, alloy wheels are still cost options.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Logan’s cabin is more Primark than Prada. With a proliferation of dark, no-nonsense materials, manufactured to resist kicks and scuffs and successfully avoiding any sense of luxury, the Logan’s cabin provides a pretty austere environment. This is especially true when you consider plenty of similarly priced city cars – like the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10 – have much classier interiors. At least models from Ambiance trim upwards have chrome details around the instruments that give the cabin some semblance of sparkle, but the basic Access trim is overwhelmingly black inside. To make matters worse, only the top Laureate trim level has height adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel, which allows you to fine-tune your driving position. Some consolation can be gained from the fact that the dash is simply laid out, and what few controls there are, are easy to use. Even the touch-screen sat-nav/infotainment unit on high end cars is a pretty straightforward piece of kit.
Along with the ludicrously low sticker price, practicality is undoubtedly the Logan’s strongest suit. Because the MCV initials stand for ‘maximum capacity vehicle’, there’s plenty of room in the front for a couple of six-foot adults and thanks to the high roofline, there’s enough headroom in the back for another couple. Only if the front seats are pushed right back will anyone in the back find the legroom even slightly restricted. That makes the Logan the most accommodating car at this price, and the only reason it’s not the perfect five-seater is that the centre rear seat is slightly raised, there’s a small tunnel in the floor that limits the room for passengers’ feet, and the central seatbelt comes out of the roof rather than the seat itself, but still... The boot is also mighty impressive. Measuring 573 litres (which expands to 1,518 with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down), it’s as big as the much dearer Volkswagen Passat’s. It’s easy to load, too, thanks to the boot floor sitting flush with the boot lip, and our only frustrations are reserved for the tailgate (which can only be opened using the ignition key or a lever by the driver’s seat), the rear seat backs don’t sit totally flat when you fold them, and the parcel shelf is awkward to remove.
Ride and handling
More than anything else, it’s the way the Logan drives that marks it out as a relatively cheap car: many similarly priced city cars are more refined and smoother-riding. True, the Dacia isn’t bad as such, and the ride is acceptable most of the time, but it’s certainly rather uncultured, with the suspension making too much of a meal of poor surfaces at around-town speeds. Head onto the motorway, and the suspension becomes noisy as well, which only adds to the high levels of wind- and road-noise, while even gentle turns of the steering wheel generate considerable body roll, which is exacerbated by the unsupportive seats.
The good news is that Dacia sources its engines from Renault, meaning the Logan gets the latest 74bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which also features in the latest Clio and Nissan Micra. The bad news is, because of a fundamental lack of sound proofing, the engine always sounds pretty darn vocal. Emitting an obvious three-cylinder crackle from the get-go, it gets increasingly shouty when worked hard. Despite the obvious noise, and a fair bit of discernable vibration, both through the pedals and the steering wheel, to its credit, it makes a fair fist of dragging the Logan along at a respectable pace. The other petrol option is a three-cylinder 0.9-litre turbo unit which makes 89bhp. It’s a good deal stronger than the 1.0 and pulls very keenly from low revs, but the power delivery does tend to tail off mid-range and it creates the odd stutter from time to time on the overrun. The 89bhp 1.5-litre diesel is the brawniest of the bunch, and is capable of a surprising turn of pace when required. However, it will add a fair bit of cash to your invoice and it’s very noisy, both at idle and when worked hard.
The beauty of the Logan is its low price, offering a brand new, full-sized, five-seat estate car for the kind of money more usually associated with a city car. Admittedly, we recommend you avoid the poorly equipped Access model, but even so, for the size of the car, the Logan is still remarkably cheap. The entry model with the 1.0-litre engine is the cheapest to insure, and it also returns a very reasonable 52.3mpg on the official combined cycle, but because of its turbocharging technology, the TCe 90 is more potent and returns more than 57mpg. Although its rather agricultural, the diesel-engined dCi 90 posts a hugely impressive 80.7mpg, and with CO2 emissions of less than 90g/km, it’s sure to pop up on taxi drivers’ radars.
The Logan is based on Renault mechanicals that have been proven in many previous models, and owner reviews on our website are uniform in their praise of the car – as they are of most Dacia models. The Logan comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, but you can extend that to five or seven years/100,000-miles, for relatively little money.
Although all models come with full electronic stability control, we don’t consider the four airbag tally sufficient in what is ostensibly a family car. There’s no major advantage in safety if you go for the dearer models, either. The only difference is that Ambiance trim gets rear head restraints, while Laureate trim adds height-adjustable front seatbelts. When Euro NCAP put the car through its tests, it proved very disappointing, earning just a three-star rating, and scoring just 57% for Adult Occupancy Protection.
The Logan’s low price is undoubtedly its biggest selling point, but we’d recommend you avoid the cheapest model, as its equipment is just too basic. You don’t even get a radio and you’ll have to wind your windows up and down manually. Stepping up to Ambiance adds electric front windows, central locking and a DAB radio, complete with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB connection for MP3 players. At the top of the range, Laureate brings a host of extra creature comforts, such as air-conditioning, a better stereo, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable door mirrors, height adjustment for the driver seat and steering wheel, and a MediaNav Evolution 7-inch touch-screen, including Satellite navigation and Smartphone Voice Recognition. It’s important to note however that many of the most desirable options, including leather seats, are available only on the top Laureate trim.
It’s simple, really – you’ll buy the Logan not because of its style, or refinement, or because it’s the most exhilarating driving experience, but because it’s the biggest new car you can get for the money. For the price of a city car, you’re getting a fully-fledged five-seat estate car. Just don’t expect much in the way of niceties or plushness.