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With the Jogger, can Dacia sprinkle its value-for-money formula over the MPV class?
8in media display with Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry and go, rear camera, autonomous emergency braking, electronic stability control, front and rear parking sensors, electric windows, automatic air-conditioning
Essential, Comfort, Extreme SE
You could dismiss the Dacia Jogger as just an extended estate version of the Dacia Sandero, with seven-seat capacity - which it effectively is. But we believe that would be missing the point of this car. Why? Well, as we've highlighted with the recent review of the all-new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (BC March 2022), there aren't many options now if you're after an MPV, thanks to the growth in the SUV market. Plus, they all seem to be in the mid £30,000 price bracket.
So, what do you do if you need seven-seats and have a budget of roughly half that? Well, the Dacia Jogger, in this mid-range comfort equipment grade, could be the answer. So, apart from the P11D value of £16,660, why should you be interested in this Dacia, I hear you ask?
Outside, from the front, you could be forgiven for mistaking the Jogger for a Sandero Stepway - as they look identical.
The Jogger gets more interesting from the side - well from the rear doors onward! I say from the rear doors, as it almost looks like the designers cut up a Sandero Stepway hatch after the front doors and grafted on the Jogger's new rear. It looks better than it sounds, but there's a distinctive step between the front and rear doors.
The vertical rear light clusters, that eat into the quarters, chunky boot pull, plus the roof spoiler are the most distinctive design features from the rear. Overall, the Jogger's look is best described as modern, unusual, and distinctive.
Move inside the Jogger and it's more obvious where money has been saved. The dashboard, centre console and door cards are all made of hard plastic, the cloth interior trim is more workmanlike than luxurious, and the carpet has a thin pile. On the positive side, the Jogger's interior feels well-made and looks modern with the 8in central touch screen display, and push button start. The seats too are comfortable and supportive, and this Dacia is impressively spacious - with useful extendable picnic trays on the backs of the front seats.
Plus, in the Comfort trim that we have here, standard kit is more than adequate for fleet and family in our opinion. However, if you want less kit, there's also the entry-level Essential equipment grade and if you want more, there's the range-topping Extreme SE to consider with their P11Ds of £15,100 and £17,500 respectively.
On top of the quality compromises, the third row of rear seats is only for children and my 9-year-old daughter reported she was comfortable on a 100-mile trip we did in this Dacia. With the rear seats in position, boot space is a decidedly small 213 litres. However, this third row of seats is foldable or removable, equalling 699 litres, although the mechanism is fiddly. Then, on the occasions when you're not carrying any passengers at all, the second row can be folded, revealing a van-like 2,085-litre capacity. Another clever practicality feature is the fact that the chunky roof rails can be swivelled across the roof to create roof bars. Dacia tells us these bars can carry up to 80kg - more than enough for a roof box or bike rack.
On the road, the Jogger is only available with a 110hp version of the familiar, 1.0-litre TCe petrol engine.
With an official 0-62mph acceleration time of 11.2 seconds, you would be forgiven for thinking that the latest Dacia is well, a bit slow. Well the good news is, that isn't the case on the move, although it feels a bit flat around town and at its keenest higher up the rev-range, where the turbo cuts in and it is noticeably noisier. The engine noise can be cut by using the Eco button - as it softens this engine's response.
However, the added refinement and increased fuel consumption comes at the expense of the performance. Generally refined, we just wish we could turn off the wind noise around the wing mirrors. Eco button on or off, this engine seems well-matched to the slick, standard six-speed manual transmission. Despite only having disc brakes at the front, braking performance we found was fine.
With standard 16in wheels, tall ride height and soft suspension, the Jogger is all about comfort - there's plenty of grip and despite some body roll it isn't as bad as you might imagine. Finally, the steering weights up when manoeuvring, so it's not too heavy on the move and reasonably precise.
Most alarming is the Jogger's single safety star result in recent Euro NCAP results. However, this is the result of Dacia not fitting a seatbelt reminder function to the third row of seats, rather than the Jogger being unsafe.
The Jogger might have its compromises, but there really is nothing to touch it for those who sometimes need seven-seat practicality.