It£€™s no wonder motoring journalists become detached from reality when often we drive cars with optional extras costing more than this week£€™s road test, the Dacia Logan MCV.
I have lost count of the chats I£€™ve had about whether I would chose this Ferrari or that McLaren with people whose houses cost less. Dacia is a Romanian manufacturer owned by Renault and the MCV, the name stands for maximum capacity vehicle, is the least expensive new estate car you can buy.
Prices start at a barely believable £6,995 for the 1.2 petrol. Our test car was a 1.5 litre turbodiesel in Ambiance trim at £9,595. Pushing the price up to £10,610 was metallic paint (£496), 15in alloy wheels and a spare wheel (£95).
Possible options include a £395 £€˜touring pack£€™ of tow bar, boot luggage net and roof bars and a £228 £€˜protection pack£€™ of carpets, boot liner and rear parking sensors. An extended five year/ 60,000 miles warranty costs £395 or a seven year/ 100,000 mile one £850.
We are so used to style and luxury that it£€™s easy to look down on the Dacia when you encounter nail-breaking exterior door handles and acres of hard cabin plastic that scratches unless you are careful.
There isn£€™t an exterior tailgate release that I could find. You either use the key or pull the lever on the floor by the driver£€™s seat. And my height was just right to hit the exposed metal lock which, of course, I did.
The doors mirrors are adjusted manually, not electrically. The simple instruments make you wonder why there is so much stuff, sometimes distracting, on the dashboards of modern cars. But there is Bluetooth phone connectivity and fingertip control radio, CD and MP3 player.
The Logan doesn£€™t score maximum stars in safety tests because of the lack of automatic braking and other safety kit but has airbags and front crumple zones. It feels fine to drive and swallows big loads of people and luggage.
At the price I was surprised to get remote control central locking and front electric windows. The steering is heavier than usual these days, which I liked as it gave good feel on wet roads and the 1.5 diesel from Renault pulls strongly from low revs.
It£€™s quiet at motorway speeds and the five-speed manual gearbox has a pleasant action. The engine is modern and efficient and you find it in some current Mercedes cars. And while the official 80.7mpg combined fuel figure isn£€™t going to happen I reckon you could nudge 60mpg under the right conditions.
We used about half a tank to do 400 miles so with care near 900 miles would be possible without refuelling. Exhaust emissions of 90g/km of CO2 means the Dacia is not liable for road tax.
Ride comfort is good too and without too much body roll in bends though fast cornering is not what this load lugger is about. The seats don£€™t look inviting and the overall cabin feel is of time travelling back to the 1990s, but they proved comfortable on a 115 mile hike.
Everything is simple and it all worked though I admit on one warm day I really missed having air-conditioning. Manufacturer satellite navigation systems aren£€™t all they are cracked up to be so the absence of one just meant I used my trusty TomTom.
There£€™s easily room for two adults in the back seats or three children. Though the seats are a bit knees up there is plenty of foot room and headroom.
Boot volume is a big 573 litres and you can nearly treble it by folding the down rear seats.
Verdict Motoring sanity unless you are a car snob