The Dacia Logan MCV once again raises eyebrows for its pricing structure. You get a lot of car for your money.
The Logan MCV - that acronym stands for maximum capacity vehicle - sits on the same platform as the Sandero (as do all Dacias), but it is stretched by 430mm. The MCV is 4490mm long and delivers 573 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, rising to 1518 litres with the seats down.
While that seats down boot space leaves it fighting (and only just losing) with giant load-luggers such as the Volvo V70 for space, more standard rivals for the financial outlay would be the Skoda Fabia estate and Seat Ibiza ST. Engines range from a 74bhp turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol unit in the base car, with a turbocharged 89bhp 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol and an 89bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel offered further up the range.
There are three trims to choose from with the entry-level Access spec getting only the bare essentials, including hill start-assist, electronic stability control, traction control, LED day-running-lights and a 12-volt socket, while the mid-range Ambiance model adds air conditioning, USB socket, Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio.
Laureate is the range-topper and gets a height-adjustable driver's seat, a leather steering wheel and gearknob, cruise control, rear parking sensors and Dacia's 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system complete with sat nav.
At the basic end of the scale everything is functional but sparse, but run up the range and you soon arrive at a point where you have rugged looks and decent functionality that only makes the bargain price tag look even better.
In every day driving the Dacia Logan MCV is largely unremarkable, but that should be taken as credit-worthy rather than a criticism. The steering is largely lifeless, the handling benign and body roll reasonably but not brilliantly checked.
The ride is satisfactory, shining a little over larger road imperfections but struggling with smaller lumps, which send a firm shudder through the cabin when the car is unladen.
The 1.0-litre, three cylinder engine is decent, although it needs to be worked in a narrow rev band to get decent economy and refinement from it. If you plan to carry heavy loads regularly, that may mean an alternative powertrain is a better choice. Venture much beyond 2200rpm – which you need to do to get best performance from it - and it soon becomes vocal. Wind and road noise are also a minor problem at higher speeds.
However, the gears are well spaced and the manual ‘box smooth. In truth, the lowly power and torque figures do not do it justice – with light loads on board, it feels fleet enough. Dog owners and school run families, for instance, would be happy enough with their lot; fridge delivery men would not.
As you’d hope, the interior majors on practicality: there are 16 different storage compartments, it can carry items up to 2.7m long, the rear sill is relatively low and the rear seats split 60:40. There are few niggles, although the need to use the key to open the boot is one, as is the fact that the boot floor doesn’t lie completely flat.
The interior finish, even at this top end of the spectrum, is still dominated by hard plastics, but the addition of the simple, excellent MediaNav touchscreen system standard on the Laureate models adds an air of modernity that lifts the cabin quality.
If unashamed load-lugging is your goal, then the Dacia Logan MCV is a very compelling way in which to do it. There are few frills, but a lot of practicality.