► Big-value estate gets an update
► Facelifted outside, upgraded inside
► Choice of engines, priced from only £7k
CAR’s last Dacia Logan review, dating from 2013, spoke of the excellent value offered by Britain’s cheapest estate car. We found much to commend about it, but very little to enjoy. It’s not that kind of car.
Now, the updated and upgraded 2017 model manages to overcome some of our complaints, while clinging on to all its familiar virtues.
It’s been gently facelifted and has new interior trim and a revised engine line-up.
And, remarkably, it’s still a very good price: the Logan range starts at £7295, and goes up to just over £13,000.
What do you get for your money?
First and foremost, a lot of space. The boot volume of 573 litres with the rear seats up, or 1518 with them down, is bigger than a Ford Focus and almost as big as a Mondeo, and it’s very useful space, thanks to a wide-opening door and regular interior shape.
The occupants get a good amount of room too, especially in the back, where two adults will be fine and three wouldn’t be uncomfortable.
The fixtures, fittings and furnishing are all plain and basic, so you wouldn’t think twice about carrying dogs and children, knowing you can wipe it all clean.
Although the hardware is mostly super-traditional, there are a few modern touches, such as DAB radio (not on the cheaper models), a USB slot up front and 12v chargers front and rear.
Engine choice involves two three-cylinder petrols (900 and 1000cc) and the car we drove, the 1.5-litre turbodiesel making 89bhp and 162lb ft. It’s set up for economy above all else. There’s no top-end pep in reserve for rapid motorway overtakes, and nothing doing below about 1500rpm.
It all makes sense when you’re pootling about. It’s reasonably refined, with adequate bump absorption, predictable handling and braking, a good view out and no in-cabin distractions.
It can also be good fun to push towards its limits – like a lot of low-powered cars – by keeping the revs up, getting busy with the gearshift and planning your moves wisely (ie trying not to brake). It’s not designed for full-pelt hooning, but it won’t do anything to make life difficult if you try.
What you don’t get is deep carpets, or electronic operation of the door mirrors or rear windows. There are different trim levels, but don’t go expecting alloy wheels, sat-nav, touchscreens, climate control or lush carpets.
Don’t think of this absence of equipment as a failure. It’s a simple car. It’s not old-fashioned so much as focused on the basics.
Wouldn’t a used car actually be a better buy?
There are pros and cons. You can certainly get something that’s better to drive and roomier for the same money if you’re prepared to buy a car that’s a couple of years old. A 25,000-mile Renault Megane estate, for instance, or five-year-old, 50,000-mile Honda Accord.
But if you want a factory-fresh three-year warranty, zero miles on the clock and nobody’s scuffmarks but your own, step this way.
If it’s so good, why aren’t there more cars like the Logan?
Hats off to those few who do still offer simple, low-cost cars, such as the Suzuki Baleno, Skoda Rapid Spaceback and Fiat Tipo. But note that those are all either more expensive or less roomy, or both.
The trend among the manufacturers of mainstream motors has been to make them taller, wider, longer and better equipped, which in turn makes them heavier and more expensive. But the Logan shows that if you’re prepared to step away from concerns about style and fashion, and happy to do without a degree of automation and luxury, then the Logan is ready and waiting.
For us, the great thing about the Logan is that it knows what it’s meant to be and what it’s meant to do, and doesn’t waste time and money trying to be anything else.
If it’s there, it works. Engine, brakes and suspension are all OK. The boot is massive. Rear legroom would be good in a car two classes up.
There are – clearly – few driving thrills to be had. But if you have a 911 or an Elise or a bike to take care of that, then a Logan is a superb way to take care of everything else: dog transport, trips to the dump, school runs, shopping. And if you fancied driving down through Africa without the costs involved in running a Defender or Land Cruiser, this would be a friendly, low-cost, low-key alternative – a trusty workhorse that embodies the timeless virtues of door-to-door family transport.