When our Dacia Logan MCV Stepway was delivered back in July, it was meant to be with us for just a few weeks while our new Duster was built. Those few weeks stretched to more than four months, in which time the Logan now has more than 9,000 miles on the clock. In that time nothing stopped working, the engine used virtually no oil and the tyres still have plenty of tread left on them for the next owner.
In every sense the Dacia lived up to its brief of providing cheap motoring. With a new list price of £14,580 as tested, its trade-in value when we handed it back was £9,800 and on the forecourt its sticker price would be £11,600, according to the Glass’s trade guide. That’s pretty much par for the course; its mileage was slightly higher than average, and trading in any car after less than a year will always exact a financial toll.
A few weeks ago, I turned up to a Ferrari day in the Dacia and discovered that the Stepway costs less than a special-order paint job on a Prancing Horse. A week with a new Kia Ceed also threw into sharp contrast how cheap the Dacia is; the Korean car costs 50 per cent extra, even though it’s a smaller car ñ but it didn’t half make the Logan feel old-fashioned with its cabin design, build quality and equipment levels.
When the Dacia arrived, I rather liked it. Such a low price tag might lead to low expectations, but I’d driven plenty of Dacias before and I knew that owners tend to love them. As a result, I expected rather a lot and at first I found the Logan’s no-frills package rather endearing. Even after four months I had plenty of respect for it, but that initial gloss had worn off a bit as I found certain aspects irritating, such as the lack of motorway refinement and the amount of pedal travel before the brakes do anything. In a world of over-servoed new cars, I had to re-adjust to the Dacia every time I drove it.
One thing that caught me unawares early on was the Eco button, which sits to the right of the steering wheel, out of sight. My colleague took the car to France for a fortnight and kept this button engaged; when I got back into the Dacia it seemed much more sluggish than before. I couldn’t work out why, and then discovered the button had been pressed. The owner’s manual merely states that Eco mode “acts on certain power-consuming systems in the vehicle (heating, air conditioning, power-assisted steering, etc) and on certain driving actions (acceleration, gear changing, cruise control, deceleration, etc)”. I’m mystified as to how the car controls some of these things, but what’s obvious is that pressing the button makes quite a few of the Dacia’s 89 horses lame. As a result, I was loathe to cover any large mileages in Eco mode, so I don’t know if the fuel economy is affected as significantly as the performance is.
Other things that annoyed was the way the inside of the windscreen seemed to get filthy overnight ñ copious wiping never seemed to truly get it clean. And while the Bluetooth worked fine, the background noise levels were such that both parties struggled to keep up.
It’s always unfair to compare a new car with a used one, but with budget brands like this, some buyers must surely consider taking the pre-owned route. After all, £14,585 can secure a high-spec year-old Mondeo or Insignia estate that’s more powerful, plusher and with extra equipment. That’s probably what I’d buy, but for anybody who wants a brand spanking new car for their cash, the Dacia isn’t a bad choice. Indeed, it’s pretty much the only choice if you want a truly spacious, well-equipped family car with a huge boot, now that previously budget brands such as Hyundai and Kia have moved upmarket.
Date arrived 11th July 2018
Fuel economy 72.4 (combined) 51.2mpg (on test)
They look like alloys, but the incredibly three-dimensional wheel trims are actually made of plastic.
The 1.5-litre engine is reasonably perky, quiet and frugal, but some extra torque wouldn’t go amiss for when the car is loaded up.