This is the Dacia Logan MCV, which is the cheapest new estate car money can buy. In its most basic ‘Access’ trim, complete with naked steel wheels, you can snap one up for £6995.
Instead, we’ve tried out the range-topping Logan MCV Laureate, which costs £10,795 for the 1.5-litre diesel model driven here. There’s intuitive touchscreen sat-nav and infotainment pinched from the new Renault Clio, plus you get standard air-con, a leather steering wheel and gearknob, electric mirrors, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and cruise control.
So, what exactly is a Dacia Logan MCV?
The ‘MCV’ name, picked out in enormous type on the tailgate, stands for Maximum Capacity Vehicle: namecheck it and people will imagine you’re in command of a military transport convoy. In fact, the Logan MCV is essentially an estate-bodied Sandero, with a whopping 1518 litres of load bay hanging out back. It’s actually quite a shock, if you’ve driven a regular Sandero, to flick your eyes from the bland but solid supermini-pinched dashboard to the rear-view mirror, and see the rear window wiper waving in a distant postcode.
It rivals other supermini-cum estates, then?
No: the Logan MCV is an altogether different proposition than a Seat Ibiza ST or Skoda Fabia Estate. For a start, it’s at least £3000-4000 cheaper model-for-model (though neither the Czech nor Spaniard offers a basic version as spartan as the Dacia).
More importantly, for cars targeted at utilitarian work rather than heartstrings tugging you towards the dealership door, the Dacia is miles more useful. The cabin is spacious for a supermini, and the boot is heroically cavernous. Keep the rear seats up and there’s 573L to use – nearly 100L more than a Ford Focus Estate and actually 13L bigger than a BMW 5-series Touring’s boot. Forget rivalling the Seat and Skoda – the Dacia could practically pack them into its boot. Once you’ve fumbled with the key, that is – inexplicably, there’s no central locking for the boot, meaning it requires a twist of the key in the lock to open, despite the passenger doors unlocking at the push of a button.
You’re quite keen on the Logan MCV, it seems?
This is where words like ‘endearing’ and ‘plucky’ can start falling onto the page, because a vehicle that offers this much metal for such a relatively small amount of money can’t fail to make a case for itself. Is it good to drive? No, not in the slightest. As such, it’ll be up to value and utility-focused customers if they can put up with the intrusive grumble of the torque-lite diesel engine which refuses to accommodate early upshifts and doesn’t offer a morsel of torque until 2000rpm.
Then there’s the lifeless and haplessly slow-geared steering, the woefully mushy, weak brakes, teetering body roll and a five-speed manual gearbox that’s so notchy and truculent, it’s debatable whether it had actually been lubricated before leaving the factory. Oh, and switching between ventilation modes sounds like a stack of books has fallen over somewhere inside the dashboard.
But not even the powertrain can take a pasting without getting some thumbs up. The 1.5-litre turbodiesel is far from the most advanced derv on the market, but our test car averaged 54.2mpg – no doubt helped by the amazingly light 1090kg kerbweight. If you want Dacia-beating space in, say, a Volvo, you’ll need not the V60, but the V70. Which weighs 1.7 tonnes!
The Logan MCV isn’t stylish, refined, or fun to drive, but it does offer a high car-to-pennies exchange rate. Plus, we suspect its no-thrills, no-frills, ‘what you see is what you get’ mantra might win it more than a few fans among you. As with all Dacias, it’s the downright honesty and cheapness-on-its-sleeve attitude that means it doesn’t deserve to be overlooked.