It’s hard to believe the Dacia Jogger is already in Ireland twelve months and what a great year it has been for this new model. If we look at January past alone, the number one best selling 7-seater passenger car in Ireland with 346 registrations was indeed the Dacia Jogger. Now the popular estate that combines the spaciousness of an MPV and styling of an SUV gets a larger engine, hybrid technology and an automatic transmission. This combination has been designed for value-conscious families to deliver better fuel economy, reduced emissions, and the opportunity to drive purely on electricity through towns and cities. The good news is you don’t even have to charge it! This tried and tested front wheel drive 1.6 litre hybrid was first introduced in the Renault Arkana and now it has made its way to the sister company to give Dacia their very first hybrid. It’s an impressive power plant that is cleverly packaged with no battery intrusion to compromise cabin space or storage capacity.

The new Jogger Hybrid 140 is available exclusively with 7-seats and in two trim levels comprising of Expression 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. Even on the Expression model buyers can expect automatic headlights, keyless entry, height-adjustable driver’s seat, heated mirrors and the simple to use 8-inch touchscreen featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Our test vehicle was the Extreme SE model, which has a more rugged design with Extreme decals, gloss black door mirrors, and a shark-fin antenna. Inside you get Extreme SE-specific upholstery with red stitching, heated front seats, Extreme SE floor mats, tilting rear quarter glass and fold-down seat-mounted trays for second-row passengers. Even the Media Nav system has been upgraded with an additional USB port and six speaker sound system. It has presence on the road also sitting at 4.5m in length with a 2.9m wheelbase and 200mm of ground clearance. It’s hard to believe it’s based on a stretched Renault Clio platform but it works well to deliver a vehicle of decent proportions.

Sitting into the driver seat reveals a feeling of spaciousness and practicality. With three full rows of seating, the Jogger truly can accommodate up to seven people 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. So with the exterior and interior inspections out of the way, how does this new hybrid power plant drive?

Turning the ignition on and placing the automatic gear selector into D produces little to no noise. Is it even running you might ask? In essence the1.6-litre petrol engine is paired with two electric motors one of which is a 49hp traction motor and a smaller HSG (High-voltage Starter Generator) which, allows for full-electric starting. It pulls silent and effortlessly away with two generous sized gents on board not firing the combustion engine until we reach an incline in the road. Now the system automatically chooses the best combination of petrol or electric power to suit the prevailing route, and switches between them unnoticeably.

It’s such a clever system and so much nicer to drive than some other comparable hybrids using a CVT transmission that over rev, to charge the battery. This leaves you with that vague accelerator pedal that never seems to deliver the power when needed. With the Jogger Hybrid 140 you can enjoy rapid acceleration with the petrol engine and electric motor working together or zero fuel consumption on battery alone. Power for the electric motor comes from a compact 1.2kWh 230V battery buried under the floor. Like most full EV’s, it is recharged whenever you lift off the accelerator and further boosted when the drive selector is in ‘B’ mode to recuperate more energy. This tech equates to a 40% fuel saving over the pure petrol model on the urban cycle and in around the city it will use purely battery 80% of the time. Our test route was a mixture of open roads, mountainous climbs and city driving over a five hour period and the Jogger Hybrid 140 drove very well achieving just under the WLTP stated 5l/100km of fuel consumption, which is mighty impressive!

So is the possible elephant in the room going to be safety with the Jogger Hybrid? Well not exactly because although Dacia have struggled in safety tests of past, the Jogger is better equipped with six airbags, including curtain and side airbags to protect the abdomen, chest and head. Add to this a range of advanced driver assistance systems and the Jogger becomes Dacia’s strongest and safest offering to date. The elephant in room in this instance is in fact the price, or rather the fact that we don’t know how much it costs just yet. Entry into Jogger ownership with the 1.0 litre Essential specification costs just €25,040 with the top of the range Extreme sitting at €28,440. This sub €30k price point has kept Dacia on track with the shockingly affordable price tag. With that said, this Hybrid tech will come at a price and possibly add up to €5k more in Extreme SE specification. This puts the Jogger Hybrid firmly into the low to mid €30’s but still by far the cheapest 7-seater hybrid for sale in Ireland. The big question is how long will it take you to recoup that price increase in fuel savings over the regular 1.0 litre Jogger? Only time will tell! The new Jogger 140 Hybrid is an impressive machine that oozes practicality. Showrooms in Ireland should see the first batch arriving in July of this year and we look forward to spending a week with it for further evaluation.