Dacia has long been the butt of the jokes in the automotive world, but in recent years thanks to the Sandero and the all-conquering Duster it has turned a corner.
Yes, it is the low fares carrier of the car world but the truth is that the Romanian company (owned by Renault since 1999) know exactly what they are doing. And they do it very well.
Especially now that they have discontinued the Logan which was just a shambles of a car.
Thankfully for car enthusiasts who don’t care about the badge as long as the car is either fun or great value, or both, Dacia has given us the two absolute crackers so far in their award-winning mini SUV and compact cars. So when the much-improved car company announced last year that they were about to release a seven-seater we got very excited. Well, I did anyway.
Imagine Ryanair bought a bigger plane and decided to offer long haul flights. If the Sandero is a flight to Stansted and the Duster is a flight to Faro then the Jogger is a Ryanair flight to NYC.
It’s bigger and bolder than anything they’ve done before. And while some of its design features have come under fire from some quarters I want to tell you why we should embrace them.
For starters, the front end of the car right up to the B Pillar is basically a Sandero. From there it grows 40mm in height and extends more than two metres more out the back to accommodate two more rows of seats.
In using the Sandero front, Dacia have saved a fortune on manufacturing and design costs meaning they can pass that saving onto the customer. And that is why you can have a Jogger sitting in your driveway for less than €25k.
Even my fully-loaded pimped out version only came in at €27,185. Yes, you read that right. That’s €8k less than a Ford Tourneo Connect, €11k less than an entry-level Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer, €15k less than an entry-level Peugeot 5008 and a mind-boggling €24k less than the discontinued SEAT Alhambra.
So, what do you get? Well actually you get more than you’d expect. This is far from stripped back of all its best possible features. Rear view cameras, heated seats, touch screens and sat nav are all part of the middle and upper spec versions.
Dacia have cleverly introduced a phone holder to their entry-level spec that allows you to pop your phone on and use it as a touch screen once you launch the Dacia app.
This is full of clever ideas like that. Even the roof rail adjusts to facilitate roof boxes and bike racks of different shapes and sizes.
Another clever idea was having back row seats that come out of the car completely if you want to create extra space. The folded-down version of row three isn’t amazing for boot space so the designers quickly came up with the idea to make them pop out easily.
Speaking of row three, there is more leg and head room than you would expect, and while my knees were up against the seats in front, I wasn’t uncomfortable. That makes this a rare seven-seater…it’s an adult seven seater.
Moving forward, row two is perched a few inches higher than you would normally have giving the kids a much better view out their windows. They each have airplane trays too attached to the front seats that cleverly slide out to reveal a cup holder.
The front row of the car is the same as the Sandero but that’s not a bad thing. It didn’t win Compact Car of the Year at the recent motor awards for nothing.
There is a lot of plastic on the interior panelling but it is not completely devoid of personality as there is a nice upholstered finish to some sections making the overall look much more appealing.
Driving wise it’s short of fun, but it is a brilliant car. It’s around 1litre and it comes in a six-speed manual gearbox with 110 bhp and 200Nm of torque. It corners well and soaks way more bumps and lumps than you would expect from such a good value car.
The one thing that you may notice more is that it is noisier than most other cars. Most sound deadeners (such as carpeted floors) have been take out so when you get heavy on the accelerator you will find that you may need to turn the music up; or speak louder to your passengers.
But it’s a small price to pay for having this giant people carrier sitting in your driveway for potentially less than €25k.
I know a lot of people will not consider this car for their next purchase but I am here to tell you that you absolutely should.