Dacia started making cars in 1968, after the Romanian government made a deal with Renault about acquiring the design and tooling for the Renault 12 model. Interestingly, the Renault 12 was launched just before the Dacia 1300 clone started production at the factory built near Pitesti, Romania. After approximately 10 years, the Renault contract had expired, but the Dacia 1300 and all its variants continued production with various facelifts until 2006, when a double cab pickup based on the same design exited the plant's doors for the last time.
Although on their own for almost twenty years, the Romanians from Dacia did moderately well, being able during this time to even launch a model from scratch, the Nova. Of course, when thinking about other well-known car brands, launching a model designed from scratch is a piece of Tiramisu cake, but keep in mind we're talking about an ex-communist country with pretty much no automobile manufacturing history prior to this.
Things had started to go down hill for Dacia in the mid-nineties, when they were still selling (or trying to sell?) upgraded versions of the Renault 12-based car along the in-house-developed Nova. So it happens that Renault once again came to the rescue of the ailing Romanian car manufacturers, only this time they bought the whole company and started work for designing the cheapest modern sedan in the world.
In 2004, this work paid off and the Dacia Logan was launched, which has become in recent years the epitome of cheap and basic transportation in several countries. First offered only in a sedan version, it can now be had in a hatch version called Sandero, a small and rugged pick-up called... drum roll... Pick Up, a spacious station wagon with up to seven seats called Logan MCV, and a wagon-based light commercial vehicle called Logan Van.
We tested the seven-seater version of the Logan MCV, equipped with the slow but fuel conscious 1.5-liter common rail turbodiesel with 85 horsepower. After these recession times, if this turns out to become the future of basic family transportation, don't call us Nostradamus. Continue reading