Boo! It’s time to say goodbye to Top Gear’s Dacia Jogger
Seven months into Jogger custodianship, and I’ve barely discussed the way it drives. Because it’s anonymously dull and forgettable, right? In fact, no. To drive, the Jogger is actually rather better than that. Might seem an insane thing to say about a seven-seat boxy MPV, but it’s bordering on… fun?
Genuinely. Despite its small-shipping-container dimensions, when the Jogger’s presented with a decent stretch of road, and an absence of bilious children in the back, it squirrels along with surprising enthusiasm, at least by people-carrier standards.
It feels light on its feet, doubtless a function of its relatively svelte kerbweight. Dacia’s worked hard to keep the pounds down here, and – at least unladen – the little 1.0-litre triple never feels it’s struggling to drag the Jogger up to pace. No, it’s not what you’d call fast, but it’s also not what you’d call woefully slow.
Maybe because there’s plenty of old Renault under its skin, the Jogger has a little of that zip and zing that Renaults had a decade or so ago. Too fanciful to suggest you can discern the faintest hint of (old, nat-asp) Clio RS in there? Possibly so. Point is, it’s a cheery little thing to punt around in.
And OK, I know no one’s buying a Jogger for its keen driving dynamics, but still, nice to know you don’t have to abandon all hope of having fun if you’re in need of seven seats.
It’s just another thing I’ll miss about the big brown beast, as its time on the TG fleet has come to an end. I am genuinely gutted. I love a 600 horsepower German ur-estate as much as the next Mantafahrer, but I’d quite happily have bimbled around in this Jogger for the next decade or so. In fact, I asked Dacia if I could buy it off them rather than hand it back, but annoyingly the residuals were so solid that their asking price was just a little strong for me.
Frankly I’m gutted. If you can see past the low Euro NCAP figure – and as I’ve explained elsewhere, there are plenty of reasons to, at the very least, dig a little deeper than that headline one-star score – this is a huge amount of honest, useful car for the cash.
Build quality? About 10 years ago, I ran a new Sandero for a few months, and though it suffered no terrible mechanical failures, after just a few thousand miles it started to feel distinctly creaky and rattly. But after nine thousand miles on the road, this Jogger remained tight as a drum. Not a squeak, not a rattle, not a warning light. OK, it clearly feels built to a budget, and OK, nine thousand miles isn’t enough to really determine if it’s screwed together like a Land Cruiser, but it did everything asked of it, no issues.
So, as it leaves us, here’s my grand departing thought: the Jogger might be the best car I’ve driven in a decade.
Not the fastest, obviously. Not the most exciting. Not even the most practical and comfortable for a family and all their kit. But in terms of utterly nailing its brief – to offer an absolute mass of unpretentious space and practicality for very sensible money – I can’t think of a better brief-nailer, as it were.
Top car. Top work, Dacia.