Dacia Logan MCV (2013 – ) expert review
Read the Dacia Logan MCV (2013 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives
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The Logan may not win any awards for its design, but what it loses in elegance and style, it makes up for with its suitably unpretentious, no-nonsense looks. However, the details vary considerably 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. Every model comes with body-coloured bumpers, but the most basic model comes only with steel wheels, and the door handles, mirrors and roof rails are black. Ambiance adds wheel trims and black side protection mouldings, but the top Laureate trim makes for a much smarter car. Not only does it bring alloy wheels, the mirrors and door handles are body-coloured, while the grille and roof bars are finished in chrome.
The cabin follows the same no-nonsense theme as the body, with the materials seemingly chosen for their durability rather than with any sense of style. Plenty of similarly priced city cars – like the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10 – have much classier interiors; and, not only are the Logan’s materials relatively unattractive, they’re also very dark. At least models from Ambiance trim upwards have chrome details that give the cabin some colour, 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. On the other hand, the cabin is well laid out, and what few controls there are are easy to use. Even the optional touch-screen sat-nav/infotainment unit is nice and simple.
This is the Logan’s strongest suit, and there’s no great surprise that the MCV initials stand for ‘Maximum Capacity Vehicle’. There’s plenty of room in the front for a couple of six-foot adults; thanks to the high roofline, there’s enough headroom in the back for another couple; and 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 a great five-seater is that the centre rear seat is raised a little, 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. For all that, what really sets the Logan apart from any other new car at this price is the boot. 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 level with the boot lip, and our only frustrations are that the tailgate opens only using the key or a lever by the driver’s seat; the rear seats don’t sit totally flat when you fold them down; and, the parcel is difficult to remove when you want to carry taller items.
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 on to 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.
There’s a choice of three engines in the Logan, but so far we have only driven one of the two petrol units, the mid-range TCe 90 unit. It’s fine around town and will happily get the car up to the legal limit on the motorway, but its peak pulling power only comes at relatively high revs, meaning the driver needs to work it pretty hard – which is when it gets noisy. You may think that the dCi 90 diesel – which develops more torque at lower revs – is an easier car to live with (especially when heavily laden), but it’s even more unrefined.
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 cheapest model, but even so, for the size of the car, the Logan is remarkably cheap. Better still, most of the options – including things like a touch-screen sat-nav unit and leather upholstery – are also cheaper than you might expect. Models with the 1.2-litre engine are the cheapest to insure, but the most costly to fuel, averaging less than 50mpg, when the TCe 90 returns more than 55mpg, and the diesel-engined dCi 90 almost 20mpg better than that. This diesel engine also has the added attraction of CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, meaning it costs nothing in road tax.
With Dacia still such a new brand in the UK, it’s difficult to find any meaningful figures to indicate just how reliable the Logan will be. However, the car 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 other Dacia models. The Logan comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, but you can extend that to five or seven years for relatively little.
At the most basic level, every Logan has the same safety kit: ABS and stability control are standard across the range, along with four airbags and a tyre-pressure monitor – so there’s no major sacrifice in safety if you go for the cheapest models. The only difference with the dearer models is that Ambiance trim gets rear head restraints, while Laureate trim adds height-adjustable front seatbelts. However, 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 probably its biggest selling point, but we recommend you avoid the cheapest model, as its equipment is just too basic. You don’t even get a radio, for example. Stepping up to Ambiance – which costs less than £1,000 extra – adds that important feature, as well as smarter looks inside and out, electric front windows, a luggage cover, Bluetooth connectivity and both Aux and USB inputs for the stereo. At the top of the range, Laureate brings a host of extra creature comforts, such as air-conditioning, a better stereo, cruise control and electrically adjustable door mirrors. Among the reasonably priced options are a touch-screen sat-nav system, leather upholstery and electric rear windows, but it’s important to note that many of the most desirable options are available only on the top Laureate trim.
It’s simple, really – you’ll buy the Logan 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.