If you need to ferry around seven people, your options are fairly limited. Thanks to the MPV segment’s utter decimation over the last 10 years or so, you’ll need to buy an SUV and spend a decent amount of money in the process. The Skoda Kodiaq is about as value-conscious as it gets these days, and even those are more than you might think.
This gap in the market has, however, now been filled by that purveyor of no-nonsense practicality and affordability - Dacia. Its new family bus is called the Jogger, which is intended to be “a blend of estate car practicality, MPV spaciousness and SUV styling.”
The Jogger is 4.5 metres long with a 2.9-metre wheelbase, making it by far Dacia’s biggest model. The split-folding seats have, Dacia says, 60 possible configurations (something worth testing if you’re really bored), and with all seats up, boot space stands at 213 litres. This jumps to 712 litres if the third-row seats are folded, or if you ditch them entirely and fold the second row, you have 1819 litres to play with.
The rear seats are, our Auto Express colleagues report, big enough for fully-grown humans. Those seating back there get armrests, although they may be jealous of anyone sitting in the roomier second row, who get folding tables. Neat!
Perhaps the most impressive practical feature of all is the modular roof rail setup. Whether your hashtaglifestyle pursuit of choice is skiing, mountain biking, extreme ironing or something even more obscure, you’ll be catered for. The patented system, also used on other Dacia models, features sections that can be either removed or rotated 90-degrees to sit across the roof.
There’s just one engine available from launch, a 1.0-litre inline-three turbo petrol unit. It’s good for 109bhp, or 99bhp in bi-fuel petrol/LPG form. By 2023, there’ll be a hybrid version pairing a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and a 1.2kWh battery pack.
Exactly what the Jogger is like inside depends on how carried away you get on the configurator. As standard, there’s a ‘Media Control’ system that involves drivers sticking their smartphones in a docking unit. Media Display comes with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and a better sound system featuring gasps four speakers. Media Nav brings with it an extra pair of speakers, WiFi-based Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (you have to use a cable for that on Media Control-equipped cars) and satellite navigation.
Pre-orders open this November, with initial deliveries taking place early next year. We don’t have UK prices just yet, but it’s thought the Jogger could have a starting price as low as £13,000.