Review and road test of the Dacia Logan MCV (2013 - 2020)
By Jonathan Crouch
Sometimes simple is best. True, there are times when we want a bit of excess and over-engineering in our lives, but when it comes to family transport, it can be really easy to blow the budget on something you don't actually need, a tendency that manufacturers of premium-badged cars have counted on for years. At the other end of the spectrum is Dacia. It takes tried and tested Renault engineering, then builds it into simple, straightforward designs assembled with affordable Romanian labour. The result is a new car for the price of a used one. And if the model in question needs to be a spacious family estate, then here - in the 2013-2020 period - was what the brand had to offer - the Logan MCV.
5dr Estate (1.0, 1.2 petrol / 1.5 diesel)
In the motor industry, we all thought we knew what a 'value brand' was. Then Dacia came along and changed the concept forever. Even Chinese makers struggle to compete with the prices this Romanian manufacturer offers to its growing band of apparently very satisfied customers, people looking for cars delivering everything they need - and nothing they don't. That was very much the kind of proposition provided by the compact family estate Dacia model we're going to look at here, the Logan MCV.
We say 'compact' because in theory, this car competes with smaller estates like the ones based on familiar hatchbacks like Ford's Focus and Vauxhall's Astra. In practice though, it's actually quite large, bigger than most models of that sort - but more importantly, an awful lot cheaper too. Think half as much and you'll be on the right track.
'Half as much'? Yes, you heard that right. From new, Dacia could actually sell you a stripped-out version of this car for little more than £7,000, though most customers chose to allow a touch more than that to get themselves representative engine and trim options. Whichever way you look at it though, this model was quite astonishingly cheap.
But then Dacias - and particularly Dacia Logans - always have been. Back in 2004, the very first Logan was also the very first car to sell in Europe for less than 5,000 Euros, a headline-making sticker price that delivered so many sales for the Renault-owned Romanian brand that it wasn't until late in 2012 that it was able to get around to importing right hand drive versions of its products into the UK. Even by 2013 when this MCV version arrived, we only got quite a limited line-up here and this MCV estate body style (the letters stand for 'Maximum Capacity Vehicle') was always the only Logan model derivative on sale in this country. An SUV-style 'Stepway' version was introduced in 2019. The Logan MCV range sold until late 2020.
What You Get
'MCV' stands for 'Maximum Capacity Vehicle', which is exactly what you get here. In other words, this Logan is a vehicle fit for purpose, designed with sense rather than style in mind. As for the feeling you get up-front, well, it rather depends on the trim level you've chosen. At base 'Access' level, it really does feel rather drab, but plusher variants feel much nicer, even if you haven't stretched to a version with leather upholstery.
And the back seat? It's an area of the car with space you might suspect to have been compromised by all that extra boot capacity. As it turns out though, there's significantly more room than you'd find in something like, say, a Focus, the boxy shape delivering plenty of head, leg and shoulder room.
Out back, the practical perspective continues. There's a large, glassy tailgate and a conveniently low sill height that sits just 589mm from the ground. Unfortunately, the only way to raise the hatch is by twisting the ignition key in the lock and in the boot itself. Plus buyers opting for entry-level trim will have to do without a luggage cover and any sort of night time illumination, which seems a bit mean. However, in terms of cargo area size, there can be no complaints. This luggage bay is quite enormous for what is, after all, a relatively compact car measuring in at just under 4.5m in length. You get 573-litres of fresh air with all the seats in place, a figure that can be increased to 1,518-litres if you're able to push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear bench and free up a 2.7m-long loading length - though the revealed cargo bay floor isn't completely flat. For even longer items like bikes, you can increase the length of your loading capacity still further by pushing forward the standard fold-flat front passenger seat.
What to Look For
Many Logan MCV owners in our survey were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there were a few issues. One owner had a problem with brake pads and discs needing to be replaced over-frequently. In another case, an owner had problems with the boot lock rotating but not unlocking, the handbrake light flashing on and off when applied, plus there was excess play in the suspension struts, rough idling, regular stalling and finally, a complete loss of power randomly when accelerating. In another case, an owner found the car started to rev by itself - apparently it's called 'hunting' and it's a common problem.
Other things to look out for are, first and foremost, elements that tend to apply to all Dacia models. We came across some faults with the engine management systems and occasional issues with rust. Catalytic converter light failures are well known on Dacias, preceded by a warning light on the dash. And there's plenty else to look out for too. Some owners report various rattles - from the seat belt holder to the steering wheel. The wiper blades are of poor quality - but Dacia will apparently change them if owners complain.
(approx based on a 2016 Logan MCV TCe 90 ex VAT) An air filter costs around £12-£15. Front brake discs cost in the £48 to £83 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £23 to £34 bracket for a set. An oil filter costs in the £5 to £8 bracket. A spark plug is around £6-£7. A radiator is in the £116 bracket. A fuel filter costs in the £7 to £10 bracket. A radiator is around £125-£135. A spark plug costs in the £5 to £10 bracket. A rear lamp costs about £67-£88. A headlamp is around £100.
On the Road
Logan MCV buyers got a choice of three engines, but we'd suggest that you focus your attention primarily on the pokier two options, both offering 90bhp. Petrol people need to consider the three cylinder TCe 90 turbo unit, not only a far more efficient choice than the entry-level 75bhp 1.2-litre petrol variant but also one with the kind of pulling power you're going to need from an estate car able to carry as much as this one can. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel variant has even more torque and manages the 62mph benchmark in 12.1s en route to 107mph. You'll need to manage your expectations in terms of drive dynamics of course: this Logan doesn't take kindly to cornering heroics. Adopt a more relaxed demeanour though and its responses are quite adequate - and there's reasonable standards of ride comfort too.
If, for you, a car is simply a functional implement, a domestic tool that, like any other, must justify its expenditure, then this one fits the bill perfectly. Solid, spacious and family-friendly for the kind of money you'd pay for a tiny city scoot, it delivers on that Dacia promise: you really do get everything you actually need and pretty much nothing you don't.
Yes, you do without a fancy cabin, cutting-edge driving dynamics and fashionable looks. But are those really absolutely necessary in a car of this kind? That's a question we'll leave you with. This Logan MCV probably won't be the practical, versatile vehicle you might have dreamed of providing for your household. But it may be the one you actually need.
Dacia Logan MCV (2013 - 2020) review by Jonathan Crouch