Do you know Dacia? I’m actually pretty confident that even if you read this from a remote corner of the Earth you do know what I’m talking about. This is the power of globalization and particularly of Renault, which is behind the success story that we have come to know as the Dacia brand.
In my opinion, it’s actually a bigger success story than what has Volkswagen done with Skoda, a far better known brand in Europe, for example. And while VW has gradually shifted Skoda from a budget conscious brand to a full fledged automaker (and I’m talking about prices now), Dacia still holds strong in delivering rather lots of car for a rather small amount of cash.
But enough dwindling in auto philosophy, we are here to share our impressions about the new Logan MCV – the wagon derivative of the Logan line-up. And this is a rather important model, as for example in the Netherlands; the first generation received quite the cult status – with the biggest fan club in the world.
The second generation MCV follows suit in the refresh of the Dacia line-up, which saw Logan/Sandero enter their own second generation, the addition of a traditional seven seater (Lodgy) and the introduction of a utility model, the duo Dokker/Dokker Van. Not to mention the refresh of Dacia’s first SUV, which is second best in its class in sales.
Still fresh on the international market at the time of its launch, the first Logan MCV was something of a compromise in the brand’s line-up: it was made on a stretched platform of the Logan sedan and aimed to offer its clients the option of a seven-seater, but with a traditional wagon design.
The idea proved successful: who needed a lot of cargo space could opt for the normal five-seater and who had a bigger family could take the seven-seater, which unlike some full fledged MPV’s offered real space for all its occupants. I am taller than the average and still had room on the last row, including knee space.
Now, you should forget all that – sorry MCV fans – the new one is just a regular wagon, borrowing heavy for the styling department from the new Logan sedan/ Sandero hatchback. In the back it still retains the idea of the first generation though, as a link – the stop lights are vertically styled and there is a set of black plastics stretching to the roofline. Yet, any other resemblance to the old MCV was discarded and the new one features a more modern approach to the wagon body.
Being a conscious and practical brand, the overall design of the MCV is built around the average family’s space necessities, so the back of the car is not the greatest you’ll see in the estate class. But then again, the ones that really look good are not very spacious. So, with that in mind, you know you should consider the Logan MCV for everyday and leisure use, not opera going.
Interior and gadgets
While the old MCV tag translated to an awkward “multi convivial vehicle”, the new MCV has been turned into a “max capacity vehicle”, which is especially true and to the point.
Still based on the Logan sedan, the MCV is bigger, with a length of 4.49 meters (up from 4.34 meters for Logan) – actually just as big as the new Lodgy MPV (we can see the technical savings from here). This means that although the Logan sedan has a huge boot (510 liters), the MCV ups the game here with 573 liters with the rear seats up and 1518 liters with them folded. This is the strongest point of this car, as it can load objects up to 2.7 meters in length.
Although the boot could be the main selling point of the car (along with its price, that is), Dacia has not compromised on other interior aspects, offering space for five adults. And better yet, being of the second generation, it also addresses some of the biggest flaws of its predecessor.
And those were in the “modern” car department – when Dacia started going out, it had a small price, lots of other good points but a big flaw in its dated technology. This was most obvious in the area surrounding the driver. Now, all that has changed, as Dacia leap frogged in big style and now has all the necessary amenities.
Just like in any modern car, we can opt for navigation, Bluetooth connection, a touch screen infotainment system, cruise control and other gadgets that we take for granted in our cars now. And this, for a brand that kept its prices low is really something to commend.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses, as corners still had to be cut in order to meet the price tag – although now there are fewer of them – like the hard plastics that are present everywhere and the still one-way adjustable steering column.
Engine, transmission, fuel consumption
The test driven Logan MCV came equipped with one of the best known engines in Renault’s line-up of today, the 1.5 dCi unit of 90 hp. It’s an experienced power unit already, as it has been used across the Dacia and Renault line-up for quite some time already. Although unchanged from the first generation MCV in terms of rated power and torque (90 hp, 220 Nm), the engine has been further developed to achieve better mileage and smoother acceleration.
It’s also a lot more quiet (that is also helped by better acoustic insulation in the car) and more balanced, with very few vibrations actually reaching the pedals or the transmission stick. These overall enhancements add to the comfort of the car, which went up a nudge from the previous generation.
One of the best engines in the segment, the dCi unit is well known especially for its fuel consumption prowess, leaving aside performances like acceleration and top speed – which are anyways very decent for the price and segment of the car. Official figures rate the average fuel consumption of the MCV at 4.4 L/100 km, which is a figure not that hard to achieve – especially if the car carries only the driver. In a real world performance, with three on board and highway speeds I achieved a very respectable 5 L/100 km – and that is without the aid of the Eco Mode function. If you feel more frugal, you can always turn on the function, which will adjusts certain engine settings and climate control parameters – but you need to know it will rather seriously hamper performance.
The 1.5 unit is mated to a five speed manual transmission, which is also the only option in the Dacia Line-up, except for the Duster SUV. Fortunately, with a huge experience on such transmissions, Renault and Dacia had a very good one fitted to the car – the fifth gear is very long and well suited for highway speeds. I actually prefer a very good trimmed five speed manual as opposed to a six speed, which more than often is just a marketing gimmick – keeping the same rev in sixth gear as others have in fifth gear.
The Logan MCV is a rather big vehicle for its class, touching the compact offerings from other manufacturers, and it all reflects on the handling bit of the story. It’s far from nimble in the town, especially in crowded parking lots – with not so great back viewing angles. Fortunately, you can add back sensors that will do the trick and the exterior mirrors have generous dimensions.
Other than that, another of the big corners that were cut to keep it affordable is in an important department – the drive train. Essentially, the progress with handling and overall rigidity and body roll from the first generation is negligible – the car’s high ground clearance (that proves essential when facing pot holes) now becomes a drag, and the dampers know only one setting – which is comfort.
The car negotiates well bends if you take into account all this – so no Sunday Schumacher drivers should be allowed driving it – it’s a family car, and that’s it. Although the steering input is well suited, the car will definitely hint when you’re about to step over the line (fortunately, we do have ESP), as the chassis reacts slowly but steadily towards letting you know it’s about to leave the trajectory you want.
On the other hand, the MCV feels solid at highway speeds, with little body roll from cross winds and delivers a smooth ride to the occupants in almost any condition. There is some progress still, as the dampers are quieter than on the previous generation.
As far as safety is concerned, the MCV should emulate the result its Logan sibling had in the Euro NCAP tests, where it received four stars – not the best result, but certainly not a shameful one as well. In the tested equipment variant – Laureate (which is the top) – we have ASR and ESP as well as four airbags as standard equipment.
The car has a starting price of 12,300 euros (in Romania) and to add the equipment we had on the test model you would have to add a little over 1000 euros, which is really not very much – thanks to the fact that Media Nav (with Europe’s map an extra 100) is only 300 euros.
On the plus side we have the price, then the space and then the engine. The price is very competitive for the segment, the space offered is among the best – even if it doesn’t match the last generation and the diesel engine is frugal, well balanced and delivers good overall performance.
On the minus side we especially account for the aging technical platform, which is only a mild enhancement from last generation – which in turn wasn’t by any standard top notch in the first place.
Dacia Logan MCV 1.5 dCi
3 / 5
December 13th, 2013