Motoring: It has flaws, but this Dacia is a bargain and it's roomy to boot
You have a simple choice with this. Embrace it for what it is -- a basic but roomy bargain-basement estate costing upwards of a mere €11,000 -- or spend a few thousand more and get into something that's more decent to drive but hasn't as much space or boot room.
The Dacia Logan MCV is aptly named -- MCV stands for 'maximum capacity vehicle'. Dacia, as you know, is Romanian but is owned by Renault and sold as a budget brand.
After traversing the country and criss-crossing Dublin in it, I think it falls short in some areas. That's where that simple choice I mentioned comes into play. Maybe we should call it a 'money choice vehicle'?
It was extremely roomy and my seat was decently comfortable. I really don't know where you'd get a car of this size for that sort of money.
Neither have I driven too many diesels that sip fuel so reluctantly. You will get 900km to 1,000km on a tank if you give it half a chance.
That is some achievement but you have to manage your expectations.
In some ways they are lowered; in others exceeded. For example, from the outside you can only open the rear tailgate door with a key. No button, no handle. It is almost pre-historic in modern motoring terms.
Yet when I did open it there was so much room in the boot that I thought the rear seats had already been folded. Incidentally there is a lever inside near the driver's seat that remotely opens the tailgate -- I agree it's not much use when you have an armful of shopping.
That boot is phenomenal: 573 litres. Unless you are hauling timber you won't need bigger. But if you are, you can drop the (60:40) rear seats and you have 1,518 litres -- that's approaching large prestige estate dimensions.
The cabin, to be fair, was quite decent, though remember mine was the higher-level Signature trim and spec for more than €15,000, with a lot of headroom and excellent rear-seat legroom.
Regardless of spec, engine noise was poorly suppressed; my 1.5-litre diesel fairly clattered when I'd start but got quieter at 110km.
The gearing is such too that it struggled badly even at 80/85kph in fifth (top) gear. The up-gap between second and third seemed to knock impetus from it as well. I had to work the gears hard.
Combine that with a lot, I mean a lot, of tyre/road noise in the cabin (over all but the smoothest of surfaces) and you have most of your compromises and my complaints out of the way.
The Logan is based entirely on the Sandero hatchback supermini's underpinnings but obviously is different from the middle pillar back because it extends to encompass that massive boot.
I think the starting price is extraordinary but my Signature spec of around €15,000 is pushing on a bit and maybe doesn't make it the bargain that its crossover stablemate the Duster looks to be compared with its rivals.
Nonetheless, if you consider what a decent secondhand car costs these days and that this has a three-year warranty, the money argument carries a hefty punch. You can opt for a five-year unlimited mileage warranty for an extra €369.
Probably even more compelling for those with minimal cash is the finance deal that gets you into this from €119 per month. But for all that I have major reservations. I was disappointed with the drive and the noise.
But, as I said, if you can curb your expectations, this has versatility built within its uninspiring frame and a family could do worse than have a Logan working for them.
You get what you pay for. The Logan MCV is a prime example of that.
My side of the road
Oh! the hypocrites we can be. Parking was scarce for 12.30 Mass last Sunday. I was running a little late. I ducked into a narrow aperture ahead of a smaller car, not realising it was being driven by an elderly lady with a hat who looked a little distressed. How mean of me. Should I do the decent, Christian thing?
A car from the previous Mass began exiting its space nearby and spared my guilty conscience. However, the lady had new competition from the north side of the space. This time from someone her own age. Such was their anxiety to get into the slot they made it impossible for the exiting car to vacate.
The standoff lasted a minute. Eventually, after exchanging surprisingly energetic gestures, the other lady slowly reversed to sniff out a spot elsewhere. The lady with the hat beamed as she darted in.
Later, from a central position in the pew just two rows ahead of me she dispensed 'Peace be with yous' like a politician with election promises.
So did I, but I could not banish the thought that an earlier gesture of practical charity from me might have meant an awful lot more. We really don't practise what we are preached, do we?