Budget Estate: Dacia steps up to plate with Logan MCV Stepway
Tired of conventional estates but turned off by the 4x4 craze? You're not alone.
Traditionally, there are few options for people who want space and a higher driving position without the cost and palaver of a SUV.
The Audi A4 or A6 Allroad, the Volkswagen Golf and lately the Skoda Octavia Scout are amongst the possible solutions, although not necessarily the least expensive.
Fear not, though, for Dacia has charged into the space with the Logan MCV Stepway.
Yes, it's a bit of a mouthful, but if you think of it as a no-frills, jacked-up estate car, then you'll get the idea.
If you're not overly familiar with Dacia, you should know it's a Renault-owned brand that does its manufacturing in Romania.
The aim is for value, rather than style, technology or comfort. And there's no doubt Dacia delivers on that front.
Its Duster model is a popular no-frills SUV that does a very good job of what it sets out to achieve.
I've seen French police using them on the Riviera, which at least sends a reassuring message about their robustness and dependability.
Now the Logan MCV Stepway has come onto the market, there's a fair bit of buzz about it.
Rather confusingly, there is another Stepway in Dacia's range, the Sandero. However, it's smaller and more crossover-like.
The Logan MCV Stepway is a good-sized estate car, based on the Logan saloon, with rugged bits added, including an elevated ride height (although not four-wheel drive).
The Logan small saloon has been around since 2004 and is now in its second generation.
The 'MCV' signals the estate version and 'Stepway' is the moniker Dacia uses to denote elevated height/cross-country ability.
The initial talking point is the price. The entry-level petrol model costs £11,495, which is less than half of the Skoda Octavia Scout.
You don't get Skoda quality, of course, and you'll have to put up with an uninspired interior, although the latest Logan makeover has improved the cabin.
It's on the outside that drivers looking for that rugged experience and a certain level of capability will be more impressed.
It has a reasonably muscular look, with flared wheel arches, 16in Stepway Flexwheels, roof rails and a ground clearance of 174mm.
At the front, there's a two-tone bumper, as well as a satin-effect chrome skid plate, fog lights and headlights that incorporate LED daytime running lights in the form of four stacked rectangles.
There are lots of other features that separate it from its saloon sibling, for example the dark metal door mirror housings and Stepway decals on the front doors.
At the rear, tail lights are bordered with black metal. The back echoes the front end with its two-tone rear bumper and satin-effect chrome skid plate - characteristics of the Stepway range.
The interior is finished off as per the Logan saloon, which benefited from a revamp late last year.
This addressed some of the hard plastic problems with features like a satin-effect chrome finish for the air vent surrounds, trim strip and centre console fascia and a new four-spoke steering wheel with a soft-feel finish.
Boot space is 573 litres, which is a good size, although not as cavernous as some of the bigger beasts in this class.
Under the bonnet, there's a choice of two powerplants, both standard engines for the Logan class.
The TCe 90 petrol has a CO2 output of 115g/km and a claimed fuel economy of 55.4mpg.
The dCi 90 diesel's CO2 output is 100g/km and official fuel economy is 72.4mpg.
Both come with a five-speed manual transmission.
As mentioned, there is no four-wheel drive, so the car's capability doesn't compare directly with the likes of, for example, the Audi Allroad series with its Quattro set-up and sophisticated air suspension.
But then, the price doesn't really compare either, and your wallet or purse may very well prefer it that way.