Motoring review: Renault's Dacia Logan is an immigrant that even Finchy would admire


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Dacia Logan MCV Laureate TCe 90

Price: Range from £6,995 (£11,150 as tested)
Engine capacity: 898cc turbo-charged petrol
Power output (hp @ rpm): 90@5,250
Top speed (mph): 109
0-62 mph (seconds): 11.1
Fuel economy (mpg): 56.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 116

If some of our politicians and the more feral elements of the press are serious about tracking down the supposed hordes of Romanian immigrants invading our shores, intent on stealing jobs and children alike, then I suggest they do what I did last week and get themselves into a Dacia.

This brand, unfamiliar here, is the proud automotive symbol of the resurgent Romania, named after a "lost tribe" that settled there 2,000 years ago. Some of the modern descendants of the tribe have come to Britain for work, and they can be easily detected because when they spot a Dacia they point, and some take pictures of it.

These are chaps in what I would call working clothes, and not obviously tourists. There aren't that many of them, truth be told, and, as it happens, I am entirely in favour of unrestricted Eastern European immigration, on economic grounds. You see, not all motoring journalists are reactionaries.

That is about the most attention you will receive, though, for this model from Renault's budget arm. Its unpretentious styling is a model of form following function: so it is a big inside.

To me, as a "proper" estate car, this makes a change nowadays. You see, years ago, the point of an estate car was to carry stuff around in, and the manufacturers usually bolted the biggest glasshouse on the back they could get away with. Then someone decided that an estate car shouldn't be too obviously a vehicle for lugging samples around, and middle-class types much preferred the "lifestyle" image, so space didn't matter. Such cars are badged as "sportbrake" or "sportback" or even the archaic "shooting brake".

Not Dacia's. Its estate is called an "MCV", for "maximum capacity vehicle". It has a capacity, rear seats down, of 1,500 litres, about the same as a BMW 3-series Tourer, but in a smaller package and about a quarter of the price). It's appropriate that its television ads are voiced by the talented actor Ralph Ineson, best known as the appalling salesman Chris "Finchy" Finch in The Office, and whose Leeds accent will be familiar from varied roles and voiceovers (I think he may have been the voice of Gaviscon for a while).

Finchy, you may recall, had a fairly animalistic approach to life and love, and "a bloody good rep" with an IQ of 142, according to his boss, David Brent. (Brent's obvious admiration for him didn't stop Finchy from accusing Brent of having spent an evening "having a Pot Noodle and a wank", a memorable television moment).

What would Finchy think if Wernham Hogg provided him with a Dacia Logan MCV? Well, like me, he wouldn't appreciate the piggy-like squeak from the front passenger seat, (I mean with no one occupying it), and he would be upset that the rear wiper didn't work.

However, he would enthuse about the superb engine, a tiny turbo-charged affair that revs all the way to 7,000rpm and is one of the nicest power plants on any car at any price. I can't think of a suitably crude but printable Finch-style epithet for this, but you can imagine.

In the end, I suspect even no- nonsense Finchy would demand that Brent replace his Dacia with a second-hand BMW 320d Touring, perhaps after he had been pointed at by a few too many Romanian economic migrants.

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