France was to be the chosen destination for the European launch of all-new Dacia Jogger and we were delighted to be on location and ready for the first test drive. Famed for fresh thinking and their value-for-money approach to motoring, the brand has continued to go from strength to strength in Ireland. Now Dacia have their eye on the seven-seat family car sector and they believe the new Jogger will offer unrivalled versatility by somehow combining the practicality of an estate car with the spaciousness of an MPV and styling of an SUV. The Jogger is available exclusively with seven-seats and in three trim levels comprising of Essential, Comfort, and Extreme SE. Whilst not known for their luxury interiors all versions are generously equipped with cruise control, air conditioning, and rear parking sensors as standard across the range. In a way the new Dacia Jogger exists in a class of its own because entry pricing starts at just €23,290 and there are few, if any rivals that can compete with a seven seater at that price-point. In the interests of keeping things simple for buyers, the Jogger will only be offered with just two options, metallic paint and every Irish persons favourite, a spare wheel! With a decent 200mm of ground clearance, a reinforced body structure, and protective body-cladding, the Jogger probably looks a little more off-road capable than it actually is. Dacia designed it for that family who has an active life but don’t go taking it on a stage of the Dakar rally. Looks can be deceiving and the Jogger is more suited to urban driving with those weekend adventures to your favourite picnic destination.

So what’s it like up close? Well sitting at 4.5m in length with a 2.9m wheelbase it is easily the biggest vehicle Dacia has manufactured, with real road presence. The nose features a wide grille, flanked by Dacia’s signature Y-shaped LED daytime running lights. Walking around the side you are greeted by a nice profile with low sills, which will allow easier access to the modular roof rails that transform in a few simple steps to take anything from mountain bikes, to a roofbox with 80kg of load capacity. The rear looks sharp with vertical rear lights to maximise the width of the tailgate making loading the dog much easier! There are six body colours to choose from, with Pearl Black, Slate Grey, Moonstone Grey, Glacier White and Terracotta Bronze available across the range. Iron Blue is only available on Essential and Comfort models. Our test car was the Extreme SE variant, which had stylish black alloy wheels along with black roof rails, door mirrors, shark-fin antenna, unique protective door strips, and contrasting front and rear skid plates.

Inside the cabin the first thing that you notice is how spacious it feels. With three full rows of seating, the Jogger truly can accommodate up to seven adults in comfort. There are many seat configurations you can choose from by dropping an individual seat or row to utilise up to 2,085 litres of cargo space. With all seats in place, the boot offers a useful 212-litres of storage space, rising to 699-litres with the third-row of seats folded forward. Indeed that third row does not sink flat into the boot pan like on some other vehicles but this is no hindrance with the amount of space on offer. A further 23-litres of storage space spread throughout the cabin makes it very easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. Complimenting that nice exterior our Jogger Extreme SE had tasteful red-stitched upholstery and chrome door trims. On the tech side we had climate control, a reversing camera, hands-free key card, Media Nav and heated front seats not they were needed in the south of France. Decent floor mats for all passengers and a hardwearing rubber cargo mat were also present and not a ‘tick the box’ option like with some other manufacturers.

From launch you don’t have much of choice on engines with the new the Jogger. In fact right now you can only opt for the TCe 110 1.0-litre three-cylinder direct injection turbocharged petrol engine which is currently used in other Renault / Dacia products. Is this a bad thing? No not necessarily, because with 110hp and a maximum 200Nm of torque at 2,900rpm this little engine packs plenty of punch. Clever engineering and packaging means fuel consumption of (5.7 – 6.0 l/100km WLTP combined) and CO2 emissions of just 132g/km have been achieved. This is a Euro 6D-Full compliant engine equipped with Stop & Start as standard and mated to a smooth six speed manual gearbox. We did ask about a diesel offering but we were informed the option of a hybrid petrol-electric powertrain will be introduced next year and the Jogger will be the first model in the Dacia range to have this engine. For now, don’t be put off by the engine capacity and be sure to take a test drive of this potent 1-litre.

Sadly in years past, the Achilles heel of Dacia was probably the safety performance. The EuroNCAP tests have never been particularly kind to the brand but with the Jogger, Dacia have upped their game. With six airbags, including curtain and side airbags to protect the abdomen, chest and head, as well as a range of advanced driver assistance systems including Automatic Emergency Braking System, Blind Spot Warning, Park Assist and Hill Start Assist, Dacia will be hoping to score better with the Jogger. Electronic Stability Control, automatic headlights, cruise control with speed limiter, and emergency E-call are standard across the range. This is big step forward for Dacia and one we welcome.

Getting back to the price point the new Jogger is available in a choice of three trim levels Essential, Comfort, and Extreme SE. Entry kicks off at €23,290 for the Essential model and you can expect rear parking sensors, manual air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, automatic headlights, front fog lights, electric front windows, Automatic Emergency Braking System and Dacia’s clever Media Control that we first experienced on the Stepway that makes your smartphone the centre of the infotainment experience. Moving up to the Comfort spec priced at €25,090 you will also get the modular roof rails, body-colour door handles, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera and clever 16-inch ‘Flex’ steel wheels that are styled to replicate the appearance of alloy wheels but are more robust and affordable should you need to replace one. Inside a soft-feel steering wheel, satin chrome interior door handles, satin chrome and copper orange air vents, central armrest with storage, electric rear windows and parking brake, keyless entry, automatic air conditioning, blind spot warning, and an 8-inch Media Display system with two USB ports and smartphone mirroring for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our test car in Extreme SE specification priced at €26,590 adds 16-inch alloy wheels in a black finish, black roof bars and door mirrors, heated front seats and a more advanced Media Nav system with built-in navigation and wireless smartphone mirroring. As always various PCP and finance deals are available from your local Dacia dealer.

We spent a day driving the Dacia Jogger and got to understand some of its characteristics although a real world seven-day test will be coming when the vehicle arrives in Ireland. Initial impressions were good with excellent ride quality and decent acceleration pull throughout the rev range. The six-speed manual is well geared for the 1.0 litre engine and the brakes offer decent levels of feel. Current restrictions meant we couldn’t fully load the car with occupants to see how the 1.0 litre handles the weight but our test route was pretty demanding and the punchy 3-cylinder took every incline in its stride. We also took time out to jump between each of the seats and test rear legroom. Somehow the Jogger managed to swallow up all six foot of me in both the second and third row. Naturally access to the third row was a little more compromised but not difficult by any means. We think Dacia have hit the ground running with the Jogger and introduced it at a price point where it simply cannot be ignored! Lets face it, if you are looking for a seven-seater MPV/SUV you will be spending €25k for a five year old model with close on 100,000 kilometers on the clock! If the Jogger looks like it might fit your needs, would it not be more prudent buy something new with a three-year 100,000km warranty? For peace of mind alone surely its a no-brainer!