Dacia Logan MCV review
We review the the Dacia Logan MCV, the cheapest estate car on sale in the UK
The first Dacia built under Renault ownership, the original Logan saloon, was a big sales success. The second-generation car arrived last year, but a limited UK market for small saloons means it isn’t destined for our shores. However, Dacia is hoping that, along with the closely related Sandero hatch, the Logan MCV estate version will be the next chapter in the brand’s British success story.
The Dacia Logan MCV is the most affordable estate car on the market, enforcing Dacia's reputation for selling the cheapest cars in the UK. The Logan MCV starts from £6,995 for basic Access models but bear in mind that going for one of these means doing without specifications such as air-con, rear headrests, electric windows or a radio - unless of course you specify them for an extra price. Ambience models start at just under £8000, while the top-spec Laureate versions still only cost from a little under £9000.
Thankfully, if you take a test drive in one, the experience won't be as dreadful as the standard kit list, with a comfortable ride and nice, consistent controls. It also has extremely spacious dimensions, boasting a 573-litre boot – if you want that kind of boot space you normally have to look at expensive models such as the Volkswagen Golf Estate or Ford Focus Estate, despite the Skoda Fabia Estate being a closer rival in terms of price.
Our choice: Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 dCi Laureate
There’s no escaping the fact that the Logan looks basic, but there’s a certain charm to its unashamedly utilitarian appearance. And with body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirrors, plus satin roof bars, the Laureate model doesn’t appear overly low-rent. Still the Logan MCV is far from the most stylish estate you can buy. The long rear overhang and brittle-feeling exterior plastics mark the car out as a bargain-basement special.
Inside, things are equally basic and plain, although the Logan’s cabin exceeds expectations when you consider its price. Yes, there are hard plastics and old Renault switchgear, but the simple layout is easy to get on with and everything feels solidly screwed together. The steering wheel and gearlever are perfectly acceptable, while the car also has electric windows front and rear, Bluetooth, chrome air vent surrounds and satin-effect trim. The £250 touchscreen navigation and audio system is better than you’ll find in some far more expensive cars. Inside and out the Dacia feels cheap – but not unpleasantly so.
It’s a credit to the Logan MCV that it doesn’t actually feel cheap to drive. The suspension is set up quite well so that it doesn’t crash over potholes, and nor does it transmit every single small ridge and bump in to the cabin. The steering is relatively slow but it is consistent and the amount of noise that makes its way in to the interior is relatively low as well. What it’s seriously missing is the fun factor – it leans in the bends and doesn’t provide any feedback through the steering wheel.
The days when shopping at the bargain end of the car market meant putting up with a dire driving experience are long gone. Even the cheapest cars can’t afford to have wayward handling, sloppy controls or poor refinement. Fortunately, the Logan’s handling is largely free of vices. Steering response is a little slow, but there’s a reassuring amount of grip as you load up the front tyres, and it feels stable at speed. However, in spite of traditional hydraulic power-assistance, the wheel weights up either side of the straight-ahead, then slackens as you cross the centre point.
The ride is the biggest concern. While it’s comfortable on smooth surfaces and copes well enough with rough city streets, at higher speeds on country roads, the fairly unsophisticated suspension set-up falls down a little. On bumpy roads, the Dacia becomes very bouncy and unsettled – a trait that’s compounded by heavy loads lightening the front end. On the plus side, lateral body roll is more tightly controlled than in a Skoda Fabia estate, for example. Refinement isn’t bad, either: there’s a bit of road noise and the cabin isn’t as well insulated as the Fabia’s, but while there’s some rattle at idle, the diesel engine is comparatively quiet and smooths out around the mid-point in the rev range. This is fine, as there’s no point working the engine hard beyond 3,000rpm. While there’s just enough performance for everyday driving, the Logan seems sluggish when loaded with passengers and luggage. The five-speed manual gearbox has a slightly notchy action but a taut throw, and the brakes (discs at the front, drums at the rear) get a bit spongy with hard use.
In terms of engines, we’d recommend both the 0.9 TCe petrol and the 1.5 dCi diesel – they provide impressive punch with seriously good economy. The 1.2-litre petrol is OK but can feel strained, slow and is inefficient.
While Dacia is a relative newcomer to the UK, tried-and-tested Renault mechanicals mean you’re not taking a gamble here. The Logan MCV’s 1.5-litre diesel is shared with the Clio, as is the five-speed manual box. Dacia says 90 per cent of its customers are first-time new car buyers, and the Logan’s durability is likely to be a vast improvement over any second-hand alternative. It’s also worth noting that Dacias have been designed to cope with the rough road conditions found in some developing markets, so UK motoring should seem pretty tame by comparison.
If you have any dramas, there’s a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which can be extended to five years/60,000 miles for £395, or seven years/100,000 miles for £850. You also get three years’ breakdown recovery, and Laureate spec comes with a respectable level of safety kit, including four airbags, Isofix and – unlike the Fabia – standard stability control. Tyre-sealant foam is standard across all models, while a space-saver spare wheel is a £95 optional extra. You can also spend a bit more and get rear parking sensors for £250.
No other car on the market gives more space for your money than the Logan. With the rear seats in place, the 573-litre boot is 68 litres bigger than the Fabia’s and only 32 litres down on a VW Golf Estate’s. If you tumble the rear seats and load the car to the roof, capacity rises to 1,518 litres. Laureate models get a boot light and a luggage cover that incorporates a shallow stowage shelf behind the rear seats. Rear seat passengers don’t fare badly when it comes to head or legroom, either. The top-spec car also gets three rear headrests, grab handles and map pockets, while legroom is better than in the Fabia. Air-conditioning is standard, too, but not on the cheaper Access and Ambiance cars. The entry-level Access does without the rear headrests and luggage cover as well.
Cheap motoring is the ethos of the Dacia brand, so the MCV has to score well here – and it does. However, you should bear in mind that the significant price saving over close rival the Skoda Fabia is wiped out by poorer residual values. Still, the Logan is cheaper to insure, while impressively low CO2 emissions of 99g/km in the 1.5-litre diesel mean a free tax disc and reduced bills for company car drivers. A standard-rate earner would pay £301 a year to run this version of the MCV.
The 0.9 TCe engine is a good alternative, boasting 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 116g/km, and it’ll also cost you about £1,000 less than the diesel as well as sitting in a lower insurance group. Worst of the bunch is the 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol – which manages 48.7mpg. The low list price means Dacia dealers don't haggle – what you see the sticker price is generally what you pay – but Dacia does have a range of finance deals to make the car even more affordable.
Even better, fixed-price servicing packs (£489 for three years) allow you to budget for maintenance. Spare parts are affordable, too, while necessary work can be carried out in any Renault or Dacia dealership.