What is it?
It’s all about timing. Some car manufacturers and the models they produce can be absolutely on the zeitgeist. The Nissan Qashqai, for instance, or the first Volvo XC90. They define genres and shape the automotive landscape for years to come.
And then there are others who never seem to get it right, like Renault, with its Koleos. The French firm had two stabs at the pie, failing both times. Take it from us, Renault, that’s a name to retire for good.
Then we come to Dacia. On the one hand, it couldn’t be more on-trend, offering the sort of value-for-money motoring that has been bang-on for years, and never more so than since the financial crash and the seemingly never-ending economic rollercoaster that we’ve all been on ever since.
But here’s where it gets weird, because the brand is also defiantly anti-‘the moment’, too. We all know that it has had, er, let’s call them ‘issues’ with Euro NCAP crash testing, and it hasn’t exactly been swift to jump on the EV bandwagon, taking a long time to commit to the Spring Electric coming to the UK (although high-placed sources tell us that it almost certainly will).
Given all those safety and environmental headwinds, it’s surprising that Dacia is still perceived to be a ‘lovable’ brand, even if the green agenda is now being ironed out with future hybrid and electric models. But then it does simple, value motoring well and there’s a certain appeal about a brand that sticks rigidly to its brief.
With sales as they are, who can blame Dacia? And those sales are only likely to get better with this latest offering, the all-new Dacia Jogger.
Let’s cut to the chase: this isn’t only cheap motoring but also the least expensive seven-seater you can buy. Prices start from £14,995, a staggering £2075 cheaper than the base Ford Fiesta, a car with just five seats. Pah. Even the top-spec Jogger, driven here, is just £17,395. If PCP finance is your bag, Dacia estimates that monthly payments will be around £220 after a £220 deposit. Stick that in your inflationary pipe and smoke it.
In fact, it’s so bargain-basement that one of the hardest parts of this write-up was working out the Jogger’s rivals. It would have been the Stellantis trio of the Citroën Berlingo et al, but now they’re electric-only. Seven-seat cars such as the Volkswagen Touran start at £30,470, which means the Romanian firm is really left rivalling only used cars.
The Jogger comes in three trims: Essential, Comfort and Extreme SE (the last one a launch special that’s likely to continue under another name, given how popular higher-spec Dacias are with British buyers). The only options are metallic paint and a spare wheel.
Despite the value ethos, you’re not completely diddled on standard kit. Base cars get air-con, LED lights and rear parking sensors but no multimedia. Instead, and as with the Dacia Sandero, your phone fulfils this role, slipping into a slot on the dash and then using a Dacia app to work all the infotainment. You can control the DAB radio without it, but your station information is confined to a small screen in between the dials.