We drive the new full hybrid version of the Jogger – Dacia’s fantastic family car…
If ever a model epitomised Dacia’s value for money philosophy, then the Jogger is it.
In fact, it’s hard to believe that the Renault-owned Romanian budget brand only entered the UK market 10 years ago.
Launched just as the cost of living crisis began to bite in 2022, the basic petrol-powered Jogger couldn’t have been better timed.
Starting at just £17,295 it’s the cheapest seven-seater on the market by far and has wowed the critics.
Its trophies include Best Large Family Car at the 2023 UK Car of the Year Awards and Best Family Car at the Autocar Awards 2023.
Now the petrol-engined Jogger has been joined by a hybrid version – a first for Dacia.
Priced from £22,595, the Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a couple of electric motors and a 1.2kWh battery.
Delivering up to 56.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 112g/km, it’s able to travel at speeds of up to 43mph on electric power alone.
In fact, Dacia claims it will run in silent all-electric mode up to 80% of the time on city roads, saving up to 40% on fuel compared to an equivalent petrol-only model.
And because it’s a full (or self-charging) hybrid, there’s no need to plug it in because it charges the small battery as it drives.
Just like the rest of the Dacia range, it’s been treated to the company’s bold new brand identity – a reflection of the company’s confidence.
Some 250,000 vehicles have been sold in the UK since 2013 and Dacia’s growth shows no sign of slowing with sales up 55% in 2022.
At first sight, the Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 is much the same as its entry-level sibling, which is no bad thing.
It’s hard to categorise though, because it’s the length of an estate car, has the ground clearance of some crossovers, and yet boasts the interior versality of a people carrier, or even a LAV (Leisure Activity Vehicle).
It shares its attractive front end, complete with straked LED headlights, with the Sandero and Sandero Stepway, while its profile is distinctive and clever.
The rear gently rises up, allowing stacks of headroom and visibility inside for passengers in the stadium-style second row of seats, where there’s already impressive legroom.
The huge tailgate opens to reveal just 212 litres of cargo space with the third row of seats in place. However, as a five-seater, you get a massive 699 litres of space. Fold these down and remove the third row of seats (easily done) and there’s a van-like 2,085-litre load bay.
What’s more, the battery is positioned under the boot (where the spare wheel goes in the regular Jogger), so there’s no loss of interior space.
Remarkably, the Jogger can genuinely seat seven people (I’m just under 6ft and I can fit in the third row), which is more than you can say for some other supposed seven-seaters for more than twice the price.
The Jogger also features Dacia’s clever roof rails, which swivel around to create a roof rack.
And a special mention for the new Sleep Pack accessory. Simple, removable and affordable, it turns the Jogger’s spacious interior into a bedroom for two in a matter of minutes!
The front cabin will be familiar to Sandero drivers, which means that it’s pretty basic and there’s no shortage of scratchy plastic, but it does the job. My only gripe is that the Jogger’s driving position is a little on the high side for my liking.
Apart from the obvious economy boost (I achieved 50mpg without even trying over a mixed driving route), the big difference is that the potent hybrid powertrain makes the Jogger experience a more relaxed affair.
The basic 108bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol version is a punchy performer, but runs out of puff at higher speeds and probably struggles with a full complement of passengers.
The Hybrid 140 (138bhp) is a second faster to 62mph (10.1 seconds), more refined and easy-going. It also gets a clutchless automatic gearbox (the entry-level petrol makes do with a less than slick manual gearbox).
Always starting in pure electric mode, it can cover a brief distance at lower speeds before the combustion engine kicks in.
Switching between the petrol and electric motors is reasonably smooth and it’s satisfying watching EV mode flash up regularly in the driver’s instrument display, particularly when coasting along or going downhill.
Overall, it’s easy to drive with light steering and good visibility, while body lean is surprisingly well controlled when it’s hustled on twistier roads. Keep it sensible and the lightweight Jogger is nimble and good fun to drive.
There are no drive modes as such, but you can press an Eco button for extra efficiency, It dulls the driving experience, but probably makes sense in town or on motorway runs.
The automatic gearbox performs better than the CVT (continuously variable transmission) systems fitted to most hybrids, only occasionally getting caught out on hills.
If you want extra brake regeneration (useful downhill or coming up to junctions), simply slip the gear lever to ‘B’ and watch the battery charge indicator creep up.
The Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 is available in two trims – Expression and Extreme SE. Expression includes front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, blind spot warning, keyless entry, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, automatic wipers and automatic air conditioning as standard. It also gets an 8.0-inch media display, with the benefits of DAB radio, smartphone replication, Bluetooth, four speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The range-topping Extreme SE version adds 16-inch black alloy wheels, sliding tray tables, heated front seats and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with integrated navigation.
The only fly in the ointment for the Jogger at launch was its low Euro NCAP safety score. It was marked down for lacking some safety kit and driver assistance technology.
For the record, all Jogger models feature six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), anti-lock brakes (ABS), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with ASR (Traction control) and Hill Start Assist (HSA) and a blind spot warning system. In other words, it’s still far safer than millions of older cars on the roads today.
It’s a shame to end on a negative note, because the Jogger is a superb all-round package, especially when every penny counts.
Verdict: The all-new Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 doesn’t just offer fantastic value for money, it’s economical, easy to drive and a genuine seven-seater.