By on May 26, 2012

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 (BTW, all numbers presented here taken from that source and also, 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?


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25 Comments on “Peugeot 301: Low Cost, This Time With Style...”

  • avatar

    “you get more than enough space to take your family of 5 plus their luggage” Is this a paid advertisement?

    As someone who has gotten a taste of this car as a loaner while my car was in for repairs, I’d say it barely fits two adults, two small kids, and a little luggage.

    • 0 avatar

      How could’ve you been in the car as it hasn’t even been launched? You must be confusing the numbers. Those are the vagaries of alphanumeric numbers. Very difficulto keep track of them. Even owners.

      And no, just to make clear. Nobody pays me for anything I write. Not even TTAC.

      • 0 avatar

        Now I see. You must be talking of the Logan. Well if you are, your family must be very big! The car has 500L of trunk space. And is bigger inside than Corolla or Civic. No, it can’t touch the internal space of say an Impala, I imagine. But these cars are pretty crazy. As mentioned in article, though it is narrower, so shoulder room and headrom is smaller, the Versa has more legroom in the back than a BMW Series 5.

        For its intended audience, the space is pretty amazing. Comparing for what usually passes as family cars in the 3rd world (things like VW Voyage, or Chevy Classic/Chevy) it’s a giant.

        Or maybe, though not my case, people down here are smaller and thinner :) !

  • avatar

    here’s how i see things… although i like large high performance saloons i do like reading about the small cars for ‘developing nations’

    i drive a 300kW LSX powered car as a daily and i know it can’t last and my generation will be the last that can drive these monsters

    the problem i see with most of the cars you see above is that the companies seem to have made them particularly ugly and unwanted so as to ‘punish’ people in the 3rd world for not being able to afford something better

    while i see a fair bit of grace and even beauty in C segment and medium cars like the Altima I have a feeling everything under the C segment is a deliberate attempt to make these small cars look ugly

    how can one explain a car like the Etios? While I admit its packaging may have constrained things, why did Toyota make it this horrible looking?

    The Peugeot though, is a true breath of fresh air. The car looks like it has been designed to be beautiful. It has the right proportions and lines. It looks like a big car. It looks expensive. It looks classy. It has a ‘plastic triangle’ but even that is well integrated.

    I hate french cars. I like this one.

    Make it into a wagon. With a small turbo petrol like the Ecotec 1.4 with a 6 spd manual. Or even turbo diesel. Sell it in the West. They will come.

    • 0 avatar

      You hit the nail right on the head. And I’ll go on a limb here and say that this car will put Peugeot back on the map. Back in the 90s when they entered Brazil they carved a nice niche for themselves. But since the 00s started, they’ve slowly but surely started fading.

      Free consulting for Oeugeot. Keep the price down. You have a lot of hurdles to overcome in terms of perception in Brazil (terrible dealers, diffcult and expensive maintenance). The cars are nice enough, but no one seems to know how to keep them running smoothly even the dealers. No, Peugeot, you cannot charge more for that extra bit of better design. Keep it under the Cobalt and more expensive than Grand Siena and Logan. And don’t be stingy with the equipment. Then you’ll have a fighting chance.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Thing looked good until I saw the front end. I saw the front end of the 508 and did´t like it.

    It is amazing how the Etios resembles the original Logan.

    The Logan is quite comfortable inside. But I am corrupted at the moment by big bore engine torque, and after having a taste of an LS3 recently there’s no going back.

    “Or maybe, though not my case, people down here are smaller and thinner :)”

    Bollocks! There is plenty of fat people in the 3rd world.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course there are Athos! Like me for one. That was just an attempt at humor.

      Now, you’ve been corrupted hermano. I would be, too. But from where I’m at, with the need for economy, room for growing family etc., I really understand these cars. I also can appreciate them for what they are.

      Oh, and to each his own, YMMV and cada macaco no seu galho, but I like the front end. Seems for elegant than the outgoing one.

  • avatar

    I don’t see how the Versa and Logan can be considered the same car. They don’t even use the same platforms. The Logan rides on the B0 platform while the Versa rides on the new V platform. They do have a common ancestor though.

    I don’t really like the 301, not because the idea is bad (the 207 sedan is just horrible), but because of its execution. Peugeot cars made in Brazil aren’t the same as the European ones. They’re not even close to the ones made in Argentina, which while still obsolete, tend to be relatively modern. Brazilian Peugeot cars are still built with the ancient 206 platform (the 208 and 301 won’t be an exception, they’re being adapted to that platform as we speak), and then tend to cut corners on everything except what’s needed to make the car look expensive (like some, but all, plastics and the gearbox, or LED lights). Then the result is a car that looks nice until you actually use it and it starts breaking down, and has less equipment than its competition (specially when it comes to safety).

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Magnusmaster,
      The Logan and Versa are not even cousins they’re brothers. As you said the V came out of the BO. How much is up to debate. Nissan claims it’s all new. People I know in the industry tell me yes the V is new, but not by much. If you want, you can say the V has been fine tuned, even though the BO has some better points. It allows for example wider cars.

      Of course I know it’s a stretch calling the Versa and a Logan the saame cars. They’re not. But it’s something akin to lumping all different generation Bora and Jetta in China into the Jetta’s numbers. Some of the older Jettas still in production are not on the same platform as the modern Jetta. So there you go. It’s just for the sake of argument and serves to point out how succesful Renault-Nissan have been in the B segment sized cars priced as As. Its a definite trend. Even the latest Jetta was imagined taking a page from this idea. Bigger but simpler.

  • avatar

    Good article – thanks!

    Who cares about styling really. New cars are amazing in many ways, but are also almost without exception large, fat, comfortable, and dull – even sports cars.

    If I want to have fun, I’ll buy an oldtimer. If I want to go fast, I’ll buy a proper track car. Otherwise, cars are functional appliances, so I prefer to judge them on their functionality and value.

    Dollar for dollar, these cars are all quite interesting. They can carry alot (I’m 6’4″ and a Versa has tons of room), cruise at highways speeds, and start up everyday. I honestly couldn’t care less what guys with expensive new leased cars think, so don’t look at good value as a punishment.

    My question is, given that they are built to a price point, how do they hold up over 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000km in daily use if propely maintained?

  • avatar

    Style – yes externally (to my eye,) the Peugeot is the more attractive rendition. But I’d bet 301’s the lowest selling..
    Americans don’t get excited for the Versa but it sells. The french have simply lost interest in a lions eclipsed reputation.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The last picture of the 301 looks a bit Volvoish.

    Is the Cobalt the same platform as the US Sonic?

    • 0 avatar

      That’s mistery wrapped in a shroud hidden…You know the ole sayin’

      All kidding aside, it seems to be on something different. I’ve asked some people linked to GM exactly that question and they never give a straight answer. The Cobalt’s platform is on what will underpin future Aveo and such. The Sonic would appear to be larger.

      The Cobalt is on a platform that will underpin a whole slew of products. It is under for example a minivan called Spin that is flexible enough to seat 5 or 7 and has been seen riding around as mules all over Brazil. Could be that in the future it will even give rise to a pickup or SUV and also a hatch.

      Sonics and such are in a hard place in Brazil. If you don’t have that much money you end up choosing a loaded Cobalt. That puts pressure on lower trim Sonics. If more money is available, you end up taking a Cruze as it is just a bit more expensive than a Sonic.

      Such also happens to Fiat’s Punto in Brazil. So much so that its future is doubtful in Brazil. Oe Vw’s Polo. Anyway, let’s see how oit goes. The Sonic will probably be launched next week in Brazil and will occupy a rather limited niche. Maybe then some entreprising reporter will get a straight answer from GM people.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Thanks. Edmunds says the Sonic has replaced the Aveo in the US market. Both vehicles were designed by GM Daewoo in South Korea, but the Sonic is assembled in the US. That was part of the GM bailout.

  • avatar

    I think the Logan is a great looking car. For one thing, look at all that GLASS! Fantastic! And a roofline that allows actual humans to sit in the back seat, and possibly on a cushion that is not 6″ off the floor. The only thing that would make it better is a 5th door in the back. Infinitely better looking than the Corolla.

    The Peugeot just strikes me as fancier for no purpose. It’s nice looking, but I like the Logan better. Of course we will never get it in the States, we get the overwrought Versa sedan instead. I rather liked the old Versa hatch – the French influence was palpable.

  • avatar

    Whoa. That’s a bulbous steering wheel. Reminds me of the one on my ’05 Saturn Vue.

  • avatar

    Damn it…Nissan should rebadge some of the pretty Peugeots and sell them in the USA.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan is associated with Renault not PSA (Peugeot/Citroen), but I agree with your sentiment re the Peugeot 301, it is a good looking car that also looks to be packaged well. I agree with krhodes1 that the Logan’s lower side window line is better if less stylish.

      I think the Europeans often over-complicate things, eg dual-mass flywheels on pick-ups to gain a slightly smoother gear shift, that often fail. I think almost all customers would refer reliability over that last 1% of refinement.

  • avatar

    I think the Renault Clio is still part of this family, non?

    Not a family of 5, but 4 with a child seat managed to make it around Germany one Summer in a Renault Clio, complete with American-sized luggage. It got 35 MPG going 160Kph every chance I go on the Autobahn. No one was uncomfortable.

    Its Japanese-American cousin the original Versa is one of my favorite rental cars.

    • 0 avatar

      You are correvt sir.

      Clio and previous generation Nissan Tiida/Versa rode on Renault’s B platform.

      Logan family and Nissan Livina (minivan) rode on Renault/Dacia’s BO platform which was a B derivation.

      Nissan new Versa/Tiida/Sunny/March ride on a mix of Nissan’s all new V platfrom (as Nissan claims, but many say is just a variation of the BO platform).

      Anyway this all from memmory so something or other might be slightly different. But that Renault/Nissan/Dacia cars are all pretty much joined at the hip, well, there’s no denying.

  • avatar

    Thus a new segment was born, the B/C Segment, joining the current A, B, C, C/D, E, and G segments. From what I know so far, it is usually a mashup of B-Segment car parts and C-segment car parts (Like new Skoda Rapid, which has both Polo/Fabia bits and Jetta bits.

  • avatar

    The Peugeot 301 is a very nice looking car though, I tempted to go and buy one from where they are selling it and then bring it back to the US.

  • avatar

    Just last week had the chance to drive a week in Marokko in a brand new 301 diesel. Simplicity but very good to handle,reasonably good seats, reasonably quiet, wonder if rust protection is top, because closing hatch and doors sounded a bit metallic.
    Nevertheless a car that was able to present itself as a very nice driving car, did 1600 kms without being fatigued, liked to drive on Atlas mountain roads with it.
    The diesel has a very good response to the gas pedal.
    Oh, almost forgot. Less than 5 liters/100km with an agile driving style!

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