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Dacia Logan: Eastern Promise

By Roger St. Pierre

Back in the day, Eastern European cars were the butt of many an unkind joke. They were cheap but certainly not cheerful. Yugo, Lada, Moskvich, the infamous Trabant – they were all rubbish.

But we now live in different times: Skodas now wear their name badges with pride while the products of Korean firm Kia’s Slovenian factory earn justified plaudits for their build quality.

So what do we make of Rumania’s new kid on the block, Dacia?

Well, they are certainly built to a price and, as the TV ads tell us, you can buy one for less than the cost of a replacement door for a Ferrari. But I am happy to report that, in this case, cheap does not mean nasty.

For their big, gutsy Logan MCV estate car they’ve raided the Megane parts bin at parent company Renault and put together a perfectly credible vehicle for a bargain £6,995 entry price.

That price puts new car motoring within the reach of people who could previously only afford to buy secondhand,

Of course, to contain costs, equipment levels at the bottom end of the range are rather Spartan and they have taken a few shortcuts. For instance, there’s central locking for the doors but you need to use a key to access the very roomy luggage compartment.

There’s a sense of space about the whole package and while it might be a bit of a Plain Jane the Logan is far from ugly, which is more than can be said for some of its more costly competition.

There’s a choice between three engine blocks – an 0.9-litre petrol, a 1.2 petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel, none of which has much oomph. All of them are sourced from Renault to save expensive development costs.

Since we are talking money, I’d point out that all Logan models are frugal at the pumps and that a generous three-year or 60,000 mile warranty and three year’s breakdown cover are part of the deal.

When I drove the car for the first time, I thought the suspension was unacceptably sloppy but quickly realised that the problem was rooted in the far too soft seat cushions – a familiar failing of many French designed cars.

Well, I‘ve done the math and, with an eye on my bank balance, I would not baulk about buying a Logan for myself – provided that first they do something about those dreadful seats.

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