Dacia Logan 1.4 MPI Base Reviews

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“Excitement! That's how you always feel when you're...”

★★★☆☆

written by redrebo on 21/11/2006

Excitement! That's how you always feel when you're looking forward to driving a new model for the first time - well, almost.
10 AM, Downtown Rabat, Morocco. The car rental agency I deal with have promised me a Dacia Logan as soon as it comes in, brand new, so I can have an idea what this new economical car is all about. But it is now almost 11 am and I am running impatient. 11:30! Yuppee, my snow white Dacia is here! A few seconds to check the paperwork and the equipment of the car, and we're off. First stop: the fuel station! The car only takes in unleaded, and the digital fuel gauge takes time to adapt. While the service station clerk fills up our gas, let's take a look at the inside of this new Dacia: it looks quite comfortable, enough space offered in the front and the rear, and the boot is quite large with its 500+ litres of space. The rear bench doesn't fold so no place for long objects, but all is fair. Storage space is also on the menu with two empty pockets on front doors, a storage cabinet on top of the glove box, and the glove box is only a storage compartment with no lid. The console looks 'comme ci comme ca', with materials fitting awkwardly to the connoisseur. The controls themselves fit correctly and are within easy reach of the driver. The instrumentation is quite modern with a micro-on board computer. On this base model though, no pampering the driver or the passengers: you get reminded quickly this is a 7000 euro vehicle: no electric window, the stereo is of bad quality, no power steering... in short, all you get is tiny wheel covers, seats, bumpers, and a bunch of metal.
OK, so the fueling is done, let's see what the car can do. The first thing to look out for is braking in this machine. The braking is brutal and, if you are not careful, can send this car spinning around even at low speeds ( I lost control at around 30 kph in the city because of some dirt on the road ). Driving the car on a few more km quickly became a nightmare. The sun penetrates the vehicle very quickly and all the plastics make the interior of the car an inferno when exposed to the sun. NO A/C Means you are forced to open both front windows (with your hand) and inhale the smoke coming from buses and such. That, or you roll the windows up, and quietly suffocate because the ventilation system will only spit out hot air, and it will spit it out with so much noise you will just want it to stop! And finally we get to the highway. On the highway, it's a different story. Power steering is no longer needed. All the gadgets become the attention of somebody else while I explore the car's handling and acceleration. Acceleration wise the 1.4 MPI responds quicker than me in low gears. That is, second gear kicks in at 20/30 kph, third in 40/50 kph, and fourth in 60ish. But then we get to fifth gear, which isn't a bog hog, but could do better. It doesn't take long but the way the gear box is configured makes it look like an eternity before the car reaches 120 from 80 in fifth. The handling at 120 is fine, considering you do NOT touch the brakes (especially in the heat). The 1.4 actually amazed me with its top speed (I could not reach it, but I did drive the car at 150 kph and I liked it at that speed better than at 40!) Even though the car's weight makes it drift a little bit due to wind or deformations on the road, it is minimal and very easy to recover as long as you keep your cool (especially remember to avoid abrupt movements at high speed ). The comfort seems to be very generous on long journeys, and the cup holders on the console as well as the layout of the controls somehow reminds me of American sedans. Too bad there is no cruise control...
So, let us see what the car does with four grown adults in it. First of all, the braking just gets worse. Following a 1987 250D Mercedes Benz on a mountain stretch, all of a sudden, and at 50 kph, the car in front of me slams the brakes, so I do the same. The Dacia keeps on going, even though I let go of the brakes, and tried to do a little bit of pumping (the wheels were too damaged at this point to get any grip on the road). At the end I slammed the Benz at 40/30 kph impact speed, but to my surprise the damage was barely noticeable to the eye (naturally on the Benz, and on the Dacia as well). Do not count on it though because safety is not one of the selling points of this vehicle (3 points in the Euro NCAP Crash Test). I have seen one Dacia with the boot pushed into the body of the vehicle to the point where it looked like a hatchback! So back to our little journey with four adults: the fuel economy does not increase with more passengers, but the car becomes more stable on the road, turns much safer and performance is still good for the 1.4MPI.
It is now almost 9 pm and the journey is about to come to an end: last test for the Dacia: the suspension tempted me to take it for a spin on an unpaved road. And to my surprise, on a dust road full of gravel, the car handles superbly even at high speed and provided I was careful with the brakes, I could reach 80 kph on some stretches! Overall, this car is supposed to be a practical, economical, cheap load carrier and on a 600 km journey, on the highway, mountain stretches and dirt roads it proved to be just that: a car for the young family who want to travel around the country. A 1.5 dci diesel is on the menu and that is what I would recommend (slightly more expensive).

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