The Renault you won't bump into

The Logan is called a 'world car' but, sadly, it's not coming here, says James Ruppert
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Renault is proud of its new "world car", the Logan. Designed to be the car of choice for emerging markets, and a bargain in more developed countries, the Logan is being made at the old Dacia factory in Romania, once the industrial showpiece of President Ceaucescu's Communist regime.

Renault is proud of its new "world car", the Logan. Designed to be the car of choice for emerging markets, and a bargain in more developed countries, the Logan is being made at the old Dacia factory in Romania, once the industrial showpiece of President Ceaucescu's Communist regime.

Now, the co-operative venture that allowed Dacia to build versions of the old Renault 12 has been replaced by complete Renault ownership and control, and the launch last year of this remarkable vehicle; a full-size saloon for as little as €5,000, or around £3,500.

Between its launch in September 2004 and the new year, the Renault Logan (also known as the Dacia Logan) has secured more than 40,000 orders. In Romania, Renault/Dacia sold more than 20,000 examples in four months. Logan has also enjoyed good results in its export markets, including Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Turkey. Later this year, a better-equipped version should come to Renault showrooms in France and other West European markets. But, like the cute little Renault Twingo before it, there seem to be no plans to bring it to Britain. Should we feel deprived?

With the Logan, Renault has built a car to a price. The decision to build it in Romania, with its relatively cheap labour, is a major cost saving, as is the use of locally sourced steel, glass and plastic. Design-wise, the Logan is not adventurous, but the simplicity means that it is easy to build.

As with so many models, it is the basic model that is the best value and best to drive. The 1.4 engine is eager and, despite no power steering, is easy to manoeuvre. You sit high in the driver's seat, and there is a wonderful feeling of space, not surprising given that it is as long as a Mégane, as tall as a Peugeot 307, and as wide as a VW Bora. There is as much shoulder room as an E-class Mercedes, and space for three in the back. The boot is huge, too.

Compared with the higher-specification 1.6, which I also tried, the 1.4 was all the car most of us will ever need, although we'd be reluctant to admit it. That's because we live in the pampered West, and a car isn't a car unless there are alloy wheels, air con, electric windows and chrome. On the Logan, the extras obscure what the Logan is all about: good, honest cost-effective motoring. It's just a shame that Renault won't let the British drive it.

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