WE LOVE bargain cars in this country. Skodas, Ladas and even Daewoos all established a loyal following, despite their cars being less than fashionable.
Skodas moved upmarket while Lada and Daewoo vanished from our roads, at least in this country, but there is a new bargain kid on the block which seems set to outshine its predecessors.
Dacia - pronounced Darcher - is a Romanian brand which turns out cheap and cheerful cars. The company, now part of the Renault group, is a major league player these days having recently sold its four millionth car.
Its success is down to price. While mid-market and premium models seem to get more expensive every year, Dacia models are cheaper thanj you could expect.
The new Duster due on sale next year will cost from under £10,000; Sandero hatchback starts at under £6,000; and, tested here, the Logan begins at £6,995. That’s the sort of money which might buy you a three-year-old car from one of its mass market rivals.
The Logan is an interesting package. Dacia calls it an MCV - multi-compact vehicle - but you or I might call it an estate. It’s taller and chunkier than a traditional estate so it could be called a crossover - that is, a crossover between an estate an SUV (sports utility vehicle).
Logan isn’t a pretty car and it will draw very few second glances. Neither is it a name worth name-dropping. But traditional Dacia customers won’t worry about that because they buy cars for what they can do rather than to create an image.
In that respect, Logan is a cool car. It looks dated on the outside and even more so on the inside, but it is solid, dependable and spacious. It drives reasonably well - certainly better than you would ever expect from a £7,000 car.
In fact the economy of the test model is quite stunning with more than 80mpg on a run. Add to that comfortable motorway cruising and fantastic storage space and you can see why Dacias are selling well.
The test version is a better equipped version, the Ambiance Prime. I’m not sure about the name (it sounds like a television station) but it is in fact a well-equipped model with satellite navigation, metallic paint, power steering, stability control, CD system, central locking and alloy wheels, all for £10,095.
It is a long car, almost 4.5 metres in length, and with a very deep and spacious boot of 573 litres rising to 1,518 with the rear seats down.
Logan has been recognised with a series of awards including the Auto Express Driver Power award for customer satisfaction for most affordable estate car.
It won recognition for reliability, running costs, practicality, and in-car technology, and was also amongst the top five family cars for build quality, ease of driving, road handling; ride quality and performance.
In the 10 years since relaunching in Europe, Dacia has sold more than foue million vehicles in Europe . In the UK in 2015, Dacia sold 26,228 vehicles, an increase of 10 per cent compared to 2014. Over 74,000 Dacia models have been sold in the UK since its launch in January 2013.
Dacia Logan Ambiance Prime 1.5 DCi 90 MCV
PRICE: £10,095. Range starts at £6,995
ENGINE: A 1,461cc four cylinder diesel engine generating 90bhp via front wheel drive
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 107mph and 0 to 60mph in 11.8 seconds
COSTS: Town 76.3mpg; country 83.1mpg; combined 80.7mpg
WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles