As evidenced in Matt Gasnier’s most excellent series, the Renault/Dacia/Logan/Sandero/Duster/Lodgy is making waves throughout the world. In a way, the multiple personality car is even present in North America, albeit under a Japanese kimono. Unbeknownst to most up there, when they buy a Nissan Versa, what they are getting is some solid Franco-Romanian engineering with some Japanese know-how thrown in for good measure.
But what is a Logan? And why is it so important?
The Renault/Dacia Logan family is a worldwide hit. Let’s take a look at just how big it is. I’ll be using Matt’s numbers to prove it. Matt’s latest article tallied up the 100 best selling cars all over the world in Q1 2012. The Logan came in at number 46 with 81,158 sales. The Logan-hatch (Sandero) ranks in at 54 (72,278 sales). The Logan-SUV/CUV (Duster) is in position 81 (52,514 sold). There is also the very recently launched Logan-minivan (Lodgy) that managed 117 sales in its first month of sales (March) in France. The Logan family produced a grand total of 206,067 little Logans. As they’re all basically the same car, that total would put them in 4th place worldwide! Just for the sake of argumentation, if one included the Nissan Tiida/Versa/Sunny to the ‘family’, it would take first place from the Corolla. Quite an accomplishment for a solidly unpretentious car developed (largely) by a little known Romanian company.
Numbers aside, the Logan was a quiet revolution. It has prattled the market by offering a B-segment size vehicle with a palpable larger car ride at traditional A-segment prices. It is a hit because it offers (not just) third world denizens a valuable commodity. Room, and thus comfort. The Logan’s wheelbase is longer than a Corolla’s, but the pricing… In Germany, the car became a hot during the cash for clunkers times: A clunker, government largesse and a little pocket change translated into a new car. In Brazil at least it starts off at less than half a Corolla’s price, and I’m pretty sure that would hold true the world over. With it, you get more than enough space to take your family of 5 plus their luggage. It offers a solid ride and dowdy styling. The styling (as it were) is there to cheapen production costs and keep that price down.
In Brazil, Chevrolet has taken a page out of that book and launched the Cobalt (no relation to the American version), with a similarly square style and the bowtie brand (at least in Brazil it’s still worth something). Fiat has grown its Siena in all dimensions, called it Grand and insists the design is its differential. I don’t quite believe, but yes they did, they’re adamant about it! Nissan, Renault’s partner, also got into the act and offers the famous Versa of more back seat legroom than a Bimmer 5 Series (though as an unfortunate side effect of the ‘better’ styling there is headroom only for kids back there!), which wears it Japaneseness on its sleeve and offers that to consumers as its selling point.
Soon, Toyota will jump into the fray with its Etios. The Etios will offer absolutely no styling, but ample internal room and, of course, the brand.
Peugeot then has had a long time to study this successful car and segment. Peugeot has come to the conclusion that its sedan version of the 207 quite lacking. It lacks space, it lacks price and to me at least it sorely lacks style. The car is called Passion, which is strange since it is a car singularly incapable of provoking that feeling.
So now we come to the 301. With it, Peugeot offers the same kind of space as the Logan, hopefully with a similar price, but Peugeot also banks its raison d’être on style. Take a look at the pictures. In them you can see some thought has gone into the design. The new car will sport the new corporate mug. Out are the gaping maw and the feline eyes. In are a more restrained grille and squarish lights.
Square seems to be the name of the game. In the back the 301 is quite square. For developing world consumers the car trunk houses 506L worth of bags. It’s a big car in all dimensions. Its wheelbase is 2.65 m long. Longer than a Jetta, and it beats the Logan’s by a hair. In length, it stretches to 4.44 meters. All very much in the general ethos of the segment. That length makes it longer than the Logan, shorter than the Cobalt, Versa, or, for that matter, Jetta, Corolla or Civic.
The 301will be moved by two gasoline engines and a diesel. The gasoline engines will displace 1.2L (3 cylinders, 72hp), or a more healthy 1.6 (115hp). The diesel is a 1.6 that makes all of 92 horses.
According to Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors.com.br (BTW, all numbers presented here taken from that source and also bestcars.com.br), the car will initially be built in Spain. It will be launched at the Paris Salon de l’Automobile in September, and sales will begin in November. Sorry my dear North Americans, you can’t touch this. If you live in Turkey, Greece, Central and East Europe, the Ukraine, Russia, Gulf States, Middle East and selected African markets, you’ll be able to put your paws on the newest baby lion by the end of the year.
In Latin America, this car will offered in ‘some markets’. Brazil of course, with its great acceptance and tolerance for largish sedans of simple construction will surely be among them. Peugeot do Brasil, much like a lion slumbering in the noon-day tropical sun, has been quite lethargic of late. Expect this car in a dealer near me sometime in mid 2013.
Oh, one more thing. The transmissions. Peugeot talks of automatic and automatized options. However, as you can see in the interior shot, the car has 3 pedals, even though the stick looks an awful lot like an automatic one. Maybe this is Peugeot’s revolutionary differential that will set it apart in this quietly revolutionary segment?