Around three years ago me and my wife had to cut our expenses, a structural adjustment to fit into a shrunken budget. We planned to replace the 2008 Honda CR-V (COAL here) by a cheaper and more economical car in order to cut gas, insurance, taxes, and all the other running and ownership costs. Finding an inexpensive and economical car capable of multiple family duties is not easy nowadays, especially because station wagons are few and not cheap in Brazil. Any kind of SUV or CUV would not qualify either, as they’re even more expensive and not cheap to run, otherwise I would not have let that Honda go away.
The solution we found was, again, a compact sedan, the same market category of the 2009 VW Voyage we owned before the Honda. As one can imagine by reading a previous COAL (here) I would strongly avoid to buy a VW product. Then one day we stumbled in to a four year old 2011 Renault Logan. It had just arrived at a GM dealer used car lot, with only 6.000 km on it.
Renaults don’t have a high reputation in Brazil meaning depreciation was steeper than in comparison to some of the competition, like the VW Voyage and Fiat Siena, so the Logan used market prices tended to be lower than the competition. In case of that particular car, the price was a little bit above the market average for the model and year, due to its very good condition.
I was not thrilled to own a Renault but the alternatives were less attractive, considering our budget limitations. So let me give you guys some quick facts about the Renault Logan. It was engineered targeting emerging markets (Eastern Europe, India, Russia, Brazil, and others), but eventually it was also sold in richer countries like some in Western Europe. It’s been assembled in many countries: Mioveni, Romania; São José dos Pinhais, Brazil; Envigado, Colombia; Nashik, India (Mahindra); Tehran, Iran (Pars Khodro, IKCO); Casablanca, Morocco (Somaca); Moscow, Russia (Avtoframos); Tolyatti, Russia (Lada), and commercialized mainly as Dacia Logan, but also as Renault Logan, Nissan Aprio and Mahindra Verito, among other names. The Brazilian Logan was released in 2007. Some sources say from 2004 to 2014 world sales of the Logan were around 1.5 million.
It was designed at Renault’s Technocentre near Paris (and not by Dacia, the Romanian Renault’s subsidiary) under the X90 project following a “design to cost” method. For example, body lines were drawn to reduce stamping/production costs, so it has an almost flat windshield, windows and body panels, resulting in a very boxy design. It is said that the Logan has only around 3.000 parts, comparing to 5.000 on “regular” cars. Also, many of those parts are simpler than average, like symmetrical rear-view mirrors that are used on either side of the car, and a single injection-molded piece dashboard. Engines and other driveline components were taken from existing Renault cars, like the Clio.
Back to the Logan I bought, it was an Expression version, which was the top trim at the time. That meant: power windows (front doors), alarm and remote power locks, tachometer, air conditioning, adjustable tilting wheel drive, fog lights, parking alarm sensors on the back bumpers, and an aftermarket Pioneer CD player/USB port with a good set of speakers (unfortunately, it was black. I’d have preferred other colors).
Engine was the 1.6l 8V flexfuel (K7M Hi-Torque, a SOHC) delivering 96 hp at 5250 rpm an 14,1 kgfm at 2850 rpm on alcohol or 92 hp and 13,4 kgfm on gasoline. This engine family dates back to the 1990’s and with more or less the same specifications (in some cases, with a 16V head) was also used on contemporary Renaults like the small hatchback Clio, the mid sized sedan/wagon Megane, and the Sandero, which was basically a Logan hatchback with some different body panels.
Good thing our Logan wasn’t the 1.0l 16V! That would be dangerously week for a sedan of that size. The really good thing about the Logan is its body. Considering it’s price level, it’s huge inside, because it’s wide (1,74 m / 68.5 in), tall (1,534 m / 60.4 in) and has a long wheel base (2,63 m/ 103.5 in) on a 4,29 m (168.8 in) length. The trunk has 510 l (18 cubic feet). That’s very good comparing to a contemporary VW Voyage like I owned, which had 4,23 m (166.5 in) length, 2,46 mm (97.0 in) wheelbase, and 1,66 m (65.2 in) width. That’s even comparable to a contemporary Corolla (which is a much better car overall and, of course, a lot more expensive): 4,54m lenght (178.7 in), 2,60m (102.4 in) wheel base, 1,76m (69.3 in) width, 1,465 m (57.7 in) height and a 470l (16,6 cubic feet) trunk.
Another thing I love on the Logan is it’s ground clearance (I think its around 24 cm 0r 9,5 inches) and its tough but somewhat soft suspension, very convenient considering the poor shape of the roads in my home town. Performance of the engine is enough and economy is average, all adequate considering this car purposes. Actually, because of the relatively wide track and long wheel base long distance trips are fairly comfortable.
Before buying it my major concern was reliability but everything has been fine until now. We got it with 6.000 km (3,700 miles) and put it another 40.000 km (25,000 miles). Not one breakdown, just regular maintenance like oil, filters, etc. So overall I’m very happy with it, and hopefully it lasts many more miles and years. Taking my experience with a Volkswagen just a few years back and now a Renault, that’s been a nice lesson on how sometimes better reputation don’t exactly means proper better quality, and that can be hold for the other way around too, at least that’s my point of view.
The Renault Logan has been redone a few years ago, with a much more mainstream design, although maintaining the same general proportions of the older one (same platform). Many people consider the Mk2 Logan more beautiful and I agree, but I grew fond of the Mk1’s quirkiness.
Note 1: pictures of the black Logan and of the interior are of my car. The other pictures are from the internet.
Note 2: this is my last COAL. I must thank Paul for building this wonderful internet spot called Curbside Classic and for allowing me the opportunity to share some of my stories. I’d also like to thank all the readers and commentators for following this series. I hope I have given you guys a little perspective on car ownership in Brazil. Happy motoring!