The Dacia Logan MCV is the fourth model in the Renault-owned brand's assault on the British market. The budget brand has made a solid start with value offerings including the Sandero, the jacked-up Sandero Stepway and the Duster SUV – and the Logan MCV aims to build on that by offering estate car practicality from just £7000. Even the range-topper comes in at less than £11k.
As with the Sandero, the Logan MCV is offered with a choice of three engines: a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol (the entry-level edition is available only with this unit), a 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel. It's the latter two engines we're testing here; the petrol managing a claimed 56.5mpg and emitting 116g/km of CO2, and the diesel an even more impressive 74.3mpg and 99g/km.
The Logan's focus is squarely on practicality. With the rear seats in place its boot measures 573 litres, and with them lowered it opens to an impressive 1518 litres; that's only 80-odd litres shy of what you'll find in a Volvo V70.
What's the 2013 Dacia Logan MCV like to drive?
Anyone who's tried a Sandero will feel very familiar behind the wheel of a Logan, because the driving experience is very similar indeed. The diesel engine fires up with an unmistakeable clatter, and while it does calm down a little when warmed up, it's a constant companion.
However, there's little point in revving it hard, because the engine does its best work between about 1800rpm and 2500rpm; it's pretty weak beneath the lower of those figures and is downright rowdy beyond the top one. Keep it in the sweet spot, though, and there's more than enough torque (162lb ft peak) to keep a relatively comfortable pace; the gearing means that a decent motorway lick requires around 2000rpm – and by that point you'll be hearing lots of wind and road noise.
The three-cylinder turbo petrol does it’s best work through the mid range, pulling well from around 2500rpm. Thankfully it remains both quieter and more refined than the diesel when worked hard, and is more hushed at a steady motorway cruise, too. However, with less torque to call upon, you’re forced to change down a gear more often and overtaking requires more planning and patience.
The ride quality focuses on comfort instead of cornering ability, and in the most part it succeeds – even if it's a little too easily unsettled at low speeds.
Chuck the Logan at a corner at speed, though, and it just scrubs off momentum through a mixture of understeer and body roll. The steering is inconsistently weighted, too, and while the gearbox is slick enough if you're positive, it's a little notchy when you're making hum-drum progress around town.
What's the 2013 Dacia Logan MCV like inside?
From the Logan's front seats there's little to suggest you're in anything other than a Sandero – which is to say that you'll find it either refreshingly simple and uncluttered, or downright plain.
Entry-level Access spec gets the bare essentials, including four airbags and ISOFIX points, while the mid-range Ambiance adds a USB socket, Bluetooth connectivity and chrome highlights to break up the swathes of dark grey plastic. You also get a radio/CD player.
However, Dacia expects the range-topping Laureate to be the best-seller; this model gets a height-adjustable driver's seat, a leather steering wheel and gearknob, an upgraded stereo (with controls mounted on the steering coloumn), air-conditioning, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, cruise control and four electric windows.
You can also add Dacia's Media Nav touch-screen sat-nav system to Laureate spec for a modest £250. It's a worthwhile upgrade, because the set-up is one of the best we've encountered; it's quick to respond to inputs, and has a simple menu layout that's easy to use.
The cabin space is on a par with the Sandero's, so it's among the best you'll find in any small car, with excellent headroom all round and particularly generous amounts of rear legroom.
The Logan's trump card over the already-spacious Sandero is its boot capacity. That blend of 573 litres with seats up and 1518 with the 60/40 split folded down is unmatched in the class. By comparison, Seat's Ibiza ST estate offers 430 litres and 1164 litres, and Skoda's Fabia Estate – the Logan's most obvious rival – has 505 litres and 1485 litres.
The Dacia's vast boot floor isn't quite flat when the seats are folded down (and there's no trick remote handle to operate them, either), but the loading point is usefully low; there's no major boot lip to negotiate about.
It's a pity, though, that even on top-spec models the only way to open the boot is by twisting the key in the lock.
Should I buy one?
As with its stablemates, the Dacia Logan MCV does bring compromises along with that ridiculously low price. It's not particularly refined, the interior finish is cheap and there's next to no driving involvement to be had.
However, the Logan MCV's unashamed target is to offer huge amounts of space for not much cash – and on that basis it hits the mark. Even a top-spec Laureate diesel model is around £500 cheaper than an equivalent Skoda Fabia 1.6 TDI – even after discounts are factored in.
The cheaper petrol TCe model is an even better bet for the majority of buyers, though – certainly those who rarely venture on to the motorway. At £9795 in Laureate trim, it undercuts rivals but thousands rather than hundreds of pounds.
Ultimately, if you're after load-lugging capacity on a budget, then the Logan MCV should definitely be at the sharp end of your shortlist.
What Car? says...
Specification Logan MCV 1.5 dCi
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Torque 166lb ft
0-62mph 12.1 seconds
Top speed 107mph
Fuel economy 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions 99g/km
Specification Logan MCV TCe 90
Engine size 0.9-litre turbo petrol
Price from £8595
Torque 100lb ft
0-62mph 11.1 seconds
Top speed 109mph
Fuel economy 56.5mpg
CO2 emissions 116g/km