First drive: Renault Logan 2011 in the UAE

First drive: Renault Logan 2011 in the UAE

The Renault Logan isn’t a car that people like me look forward to driving. Even at my poorest point in life, making Dhs 3000 a month while in college, my first car was an old Mercedes-Benz. With leather. And cruise control. And ABS. And a hood ornament. However, most people don’t think like me. For some unknown cosmic reason, they have to have a brand new car, even if it means taking a loan and risking jail if they can’t pay. And so, the local Nissan/Renault dealer thinks they have a hit on their hands, especially since they are targeting peeps making at least Dhs 3000. I had the “pleasure” to drive this a few hundred kilometres on a media drive recently.

The sub-compact sedan, already around for the past five years in Europe as the Dacia Logan, is known as Europe’s cheapest car. It received a mild frontal facelift recently but it still looks like something out of 1985. Built in Romania for Europe and the GCC, it is also built in India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Morocco and Iran for local markets, so obviously it is doing something right by offering cheap transport for the masses. There will also be stretched pick-up and van versions, as well as a nicer Sandero hatchback and larger Duster crossover based on the same platform.

There isn’t much to speak about in terms of features. There is only one trim level for now, at Dhs 38,500, that comes with front power windows, rear wind-up windows, power steering, cloth seats, 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, a Blaupunkt CD stereo, a manual a/c, one airbag and an automatic gearbox.

Renault had quite a number of cars lined up at the Dubai event, so I jumped into one and got to exploring the features, which only took about 30 seconds. All the cabin plastics are hard, everything except the windows are manual, and the seat does not adjust in height. It all reminds you of how much you paid for your car, but is well within what is expected in this class. However, there is just about enough space for four adults and a kid, so it is definitely spacious for its size. Renault claims there is more space than cars like the Toyota Yaris and the Chevy Aveo, but I didn’t see a huge difference.

Powered by a 105 hp 1.6-litre 4-cylinder mated to a 4-speed automatic, performance is expectedly limited. There is even a manual gear-shifting feature. The car is jumpy off the line, so it makes a decent inner-city runabout, but it simply refuses to accelerate beyond that. At least twice I gunned it to cross a green light before it turned red, only to realise I won’t make it, and hit the brakes at the last minute. Which brings us to the brakes. In both the incidents, I had half the car cross the line because I couldn’t stop in time. That never happened to me in my entire life before. Indeed, the brakes are small.

But there is good news. As the convoy headed onto the highway and into desert roads, I noticed that the ride and handling is reasonably good for a car that has no sporting pretensions whatsoever. It certainly rides more comfortably than Renault’s own Clio sedan as well as the class-leading Honda Jazz. And yet, it handles itself fine around corners, with limited body roll and no untoward bouncing. The suspension tuning is perfect.

However, the drive through the desert was intense, as the entire convoy was overspeeding along at 160 kph, topping out the engine and temporarily killing the a/c in the process. Even nicer were the strong crosswinds, blowing sand onto the two-lane road, and almost blowing away the cars too. Constant steering corrections with sweaty hands were required to keep the wheels straight.

At saner speeds, the a/c worked decently, at least in April weather, and the drive was uneventful as long as I didn’t try to overtake anything. Wind noise was always at moderate levels, as was road and engine noise.

The Renault Logan doesn’t set any new standards in this category, except possibly in ride and handling. However, the car actually gives off a “budget” vibe that isn’t as pronounced in the Toyota Yaris and the Chevy Aveo, cars which Renault claims are Wolverine’s arch rivals. We’d say our clawed hero would be better at fighting off the threat from cars like the Kia Picanto and the Suzuki Alto instead.

What do you think?



  1. Were these shots provided by them??

  2. Author

    No, I now carry floodlights and multiple lenses with me. Odd though, because I drove a white car.

  3. We have couple of them for staff (rent a cars, people complain that it appears cheap, but at same time praise it like anything for daily commuting and full efficiency). Back in India, it became an immediate hit with call taxi people.

  4. sorry Fuel Efficiency…

  5. in india the initial reviews were really good but this car wasnt a big hit in indian market…

  6. I said….”immediate hit with call taxi people.”

  7. Its just one of those crap budget cars we get in this market. I would never buy one for the wife or for my office simply because the Japanese competition offers a better maintenance cost and a better quality product, even if the drive is not amazing. I drive a Merc E500 but whenever I have to drive my office’s 6 yr old 1.6 Sunny I’m surprised how good it still is. I have 4 Hyundai Elantras which I made the mistake of buying for my office some years back. Maintenance cost is HORRIBLE, build quality compared to the Sunny is nonsense. I’m never not buying Japanese again.

  8. U tried ur best to make the car lOOk Pretty with some nice backgrounds Keep it UP

  9. Author

    ^ Hehe, naah. Renault supplied the pics. I think some are Sharjah University City and some are Downtown Burj Dubai.

  10. I cee they didn’t even bother to remove the number plate It won’t look nice if i set it as my desktop wallpaper puhhhh…)

  11. Author

    I prefer the plates, so at least the pics look local.

  12. why it does have to be ugly because it is cheap?

    The car looks 15 years old! They could have given it a better look.

  13. My dad drives one back home its very cheap to maintain ! but in Dubai its 1.6 l 16 v NOT 1.5 Mashfiq

  14. In India it was launched some where around 2007

    in Hyderabad most of the Airport cabs, named as Green Cabs or dot cabs are Logans,

    i am not sure but
    it was said that the Logan dealer had brought a huge lot and when it failed to catch up the line with Indigo / City / Fiesta / Optra
    the huge stocks were just lying in his yard, so he made a deal and made is own taxi company

  15. Feroz no, the car was launched in india in 2005 en wil complete in india met The Indigo Manza,City,Fiesta,Verna,Optra en the Fiat Linea

  16. For the price its selling its a good pick… If im buying a brand new mini-compact like a yaris/city/fiesta/etc and i dont care about the looks ill buy this cuz its the only one with a realistic price tag for a compact car..

  17. I have one in egypt , and i am completely Convinced with its look.

  18. I bought a brand new 1.6 in Muscat. It is perfect and vey efficient. Of course I do not care about a fancy look. only a good hradworking economic city transport car.

  19. I agree with Jojo

  20. The Logan should be kept ogly but good. There is where the catch should rely.

  21. Hello,

    I accidentally stumbled on this page looking for something else, and I am very very surprised to see the Logan all the way to Dubai :)). I am from Romania (the mother country of this car) and here we have a lot of these cars, few hundreds of thousands I think. Here it starts from 4000 euro/ 6000 $ new. It is truly ugly, (especial the older version) an has a poor quality build. But what can you expect for this money ?
    / The plus sides of the Dacia Logan might be the fuel economy and low maintenance costs, so all depends of how much money you got…

  22. I wanna ask about the 1.6 AT how does it feel while driving? I don’t want a car with a sportive engine and gearbox but I want a car that is comfortable to drive and when I want to kick it down it responses to bypass a car for example, all the reviews I read about the automatic version says that the kick down response is slow so what about the kick down while in the tip-tronic mode? and what is the gear shifting speed for each gear??

  23. i am driving one of these as a rental now, its actually not bad. its on cocaine on roundabouts but gets high on the highway.

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