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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The Jogger is an engaging car to drive, thanks to the effort that Dacia has made to keep it light. It’s all very clever – a lower weight means a smaller engine does the same job, and it gives some breathing space for a more generous spec sheet, at least by the company’s usual standards. There will always be features you could add, but slimming down means tough decisions have to be made.

What are my engine options?

UK buyers have a choice between a 1.0-litre 3cyl engine with six-speed manual and a hybrid 1.6-litre 4cyl with electric motor assistance and six-speed auto; Dacia makes an LPG version of the Jogger too, but doesn't think it's worthwhile selling it over in the UK.

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The 1.0 develops 108bhp and is good for 48.7mpg on paper, while the 1.6 hybrid manages 138bhp and 56.5mpg. Naturally, there's a premium to pay for the larger/better performance numbers, and you might find the more basic petrol offers a more attainable mileage if you do more motorway miles, for instance. More on the numbers on the Buying tab.

What's the handling like?

The Jogger handles sharply because there isn’t flab hanging over the front wheels, it rides smoothly because there’s less sprung weight and the 1.0-litre 3cyl engine is perky and willing, the car eager away from a standstill. Even when fully laden with people and things. As the heavier of the two the hybrid is less agile, but not alarmingly so as the 1.2kWh battery is buried low beneath the back seats.

Acceleration must be glacial?

We'll be honest, the 11.2 seconds it takes the 1.0 to cover 0–62mph is pretty leisurely, but a seven-seater at this price point had to come with some compromises, right? The sporty option is the 1.6-litre hybrid car, which uses its extra cylinder and 48bhp e-motor to knock 1.1secs off the 0–62mph run. The extra oomph is welcome, but you won't be paying the extra for the car's overtaking ability. As is often the way with hybrids, heavy use of the accelerator can mean a lot of unwelcome noise inside the cabin. 

Is it worth going for the hybrid?

Good question. When it launched the car, Dacia reckoned that between 30 and 40 per cent of Joggers sold in the UK would be hybrids, so there must be something that appeals beyond slightly better fuel economy.

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An enhanced driving experience certainly won't be it: the bargain basement nature of the Jogger is telling here as the car struggles to balance engine and motor power in the way that more sophisticated (and expensive) pieces of kit seem to do effortlessly nowadays. Noisy bursts in volume are the norm even in mild acceleration, and the six speed auto's gear changes could be smoother.

Peak torque is only microscopically better in the hybrid, so it hasn't got that going for it either. Sorry, large families and dog owners. But on the basis of our test drive, fuel economy of 50mpg looks achievable, so credit where credit's due for that.

What else do I need to know?

There’s cruise control available on all specs of the car as standard, but if you’re trading down from a fancier car you’ll have to remember that it’s not an adaptive system before you plough into the back of a lorry.

We never thought we’d be extolling the virtues of a cut price Dacia people mover as the last bastion of a purist electric free driving experience, but the Jogger really makes a good fist of it all. If you enjoy the simple act of driving a car then there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found behind the wheel of the Jogger.

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