So Glad they Bothered vs. Why Did they Bother?

We debate substance versus style.

Basic Dacia Jogger in UN White (Source: Byri)

On the 9th February 2022, first drive reviews of two quite different yet similarly priced new models featured on the home page of a certain influential car magazine’s website and caused something of a debate chez DTW. One of them gives me cause to believe that there is again room in the market for an honest car that offers fantastic value to potential buyers. The other is a disappointing replacement of an existing city car that just makes me wonder why they bothered?

Let’s start with the positive: all hail the Dacia Jogger. OK, so the name is daft, but then so was Roomster, the moniker given to the car of which the Jogger reminds me so much. Sadly, Škoda has long abandoned this corner of the market, and with it has gone its most distinctive and playful of designs, which must also include the Yeti. Both of these Ingenlath-influenced cars are firm favourites for most, if not all, on this site.

Much missed: Skoda Roomster (Source: Car Magazine)

So, when a car emerges from another east European marque which reclaims the mantle of those pitch-perfect Škodas, it’s a reason to rejoice. In case you have missed it, the Jogger is a roomy and practical seven-seat crossover mash-up of estate, MPV and SUV styles, which you can buy in the UK from £14,995. That’s £2,075 less than the most basic Fiesta, or only £200 more than the lowliest of the new Toyota Aygo X range. Hold that particular thought.

On the outside, the Jogger is almost pure new-model Sandero from the A-pillar forwards. From the B-pillar back, Dacia has attached a boxy shell with an upright tailgate in which five more people can be seated in relative comfort (although the rearmost two could do with being a bit shorter and trimmer of stature) with a bit of luggage behind them. There is even an inflection in the top edge of the window-line just behind the front doors where the two forms meet, just like that which featured on the Roomster. It’s just over 4.55m in length and just under 1.8m wide and 1.7m high. This scale obviously helps it to deliver its spacious interior.

The Jogger is powered by a 999cc triple which develops up to 109bhp and 148 lb ft of torque, delivered via a six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels. If that doesn’t sound much for such a car, then the performance figures surprise in that they are completely adequate for this type of vehicle and, no doubt, its potential buyers. 100km/h (62mph) can be reached in 11.2 seconds and the Jogger will eventually run to over 177km/h (110mph) should you feel like losing your licence. Combined cycle fuel economy is 6.01 l/100km (47.1mpg) which, of course, one will never see, and CO2 emissions that are par for the non-hybrid petrol course at 132g/km.

The dashboard is lifted from the Sandero Stepway, so no soft-touch plastic here, nor any sign of a touchscreen. Instead, there’s a smartphone mount. However, one can at least delight in a proper handbrake lever, chunky manual HVAC controls and even the base-spec Essential model has air-con, cruise control and rear parking sensors to help place the Jogger’s large rear.

Lots of space for the money, although the seats are not Varioflex-clever (Source: Tek Deeps)

Dacia is currently making a ‘thing’ of the fact that it eschews the kind of NCAP star-rating friendly electronic driver assistance aids in order to keep its list prices down. Given that these include the lane-keeping ‘drive assist’ feature, I would be one of those happy to bag the savings and not miss at all the ghostly hand that wrests control of the wheel away from the driver at motorway speeds.

Of course, there are drawbacks. That cost-paring approach means that the five rear seats are not the most flexible or manoeuvrable of designs: there’s no Varioflex-like seating system here. A personal preference perhaps, but I think the overall honesty of the car would be improved by dropping the plastic cladding that is meant to give the Jogger that faux-SUV look.

Speaking of which brings us back to the Aygo X. Let’s start again with a few vital statistics. The Aygo X(1) is 3.7m long, 1.74m wide and 1.53m high. It too is powered by a triple, albeit with 1cc less in terms of capacity, producing maximum power and torque of just 71bhp and 69 lb ft.  Weight is only 940kg, but the small Toyota still struggles up through its five-speed gearbox(2) to 100km/h (62mph) in 15.6 seconds then onwards to a 158km/h (98mph) top speed. Combined cycle fuel economy is 4.71 l/100km (60.1mpg) and CO2 emissions a pleasing 107g/km given that, as with the Jogger, the little petrol engine has no electrical assistance.

New Toyota Aygo X (Cross). (Source: Carbuyer)

The Aygo X has that chunky, Nike-Air trainer look about it, a real urban-SUV-crossover in miniature. Viewed through the lens of car-as-fashion-item, it’s funky and hip, albeit in a rather too knowing, on the nose manner for it to count as properly ‘cool’ in my book. Moreover, the raked angle curve of the rear and long bonnet-to-cabin-length ratio clearly compromise the interior space available to passengers. Any human over 5’6″ (168cms) tall is going to be cramped in the rear and the boot, though a bit larger than that of its predecessor, is still small.

The Aygo X runs on 17” or even 18” wheels to help achieve that elevated SUV look. However, Car Magazine’s reviewer, Colin Overland, says that it still rides well for a short-wheelbase car, as well as providing some handling fun. That may be thanks to the chassis being derived from that of the current Yaris and not the previous shared PSA / Toyota platform.

Aygo X interior (Source: Autocar)

The interior is, again, funkily attired and every trim level features at least a 7” touchscreen, whilst still retaining manual twist-knobs for the HVAC controls. But then, at this price, so it should.

The lowliest of the new Aygos starts at £14,795. For that you get it in ‘Pure’ trim with 17” wheels, manual air-con and one-colour bodywork. Passing swiftly by the next ‘Edge’ trim level, one reaches the ‘Exclusive’ which is on 18” wheels, has privacy glass at the rear(3) and adds wireless phone charging, LED headlights and a more advanced infotainment and safety-aids package, together with the touchscreen now measuring 9”. The top-end ‘Limited Edition’ model has differently patterned 18″ wheels, some orange flourishes on the heated front seats and an electrically retractable fabric sunroof, for a sticker price that exceeds £20k.

Toyota iQ – a thoughtful take on the small car (Source: Top Gear)

Yes, more than £20k for a 3.7-metre long car with a near-2+2 layout, powered by a 71bhp triple barely capable of pulling the skin of a rice pudding. Even the ritziest, most expensive Jogger will only set you back £17,395. I can see that the Aygo X will appeal to a certain stratum of society, but I’d rather have the somewhat antiquated Panda, Picanto, i10 or, most of all, the ‘totes-cool’ Ignis. I think one can buy the new 500 EV for only a bit more money.

In short, the Aygo X furthers the cause and evolution of the city car segment not one jot. Why did the mighty Toyota, makers of the rather wonderful iQ, remember, bother and how did they get it so wrong?

Returning to the Dacia, if I had to replace our Octavia Estate right now, I’d almost certainly go for the Jogger. It doesn’t advance the cause of its segment either and is indeed an oddly old-fashioned kind of car, but it offers a terrific space-to-price ratio, and is just a very straightforward, few frills, practical, family car.  Remember those?

(1) Apparently, the X is pronounced ‘cross’ not ‘ex’ or ‘incorrect’.

(2) A CVT is available as an option.

(3) Doubtless making the rear cabin dark as well as cramped.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

25 thoughts on “So Glad they Bothered vs. Why Did they Bother?”

  1. Good morning, S.V. I like the Jogger. If I would drive it I would be moving along a lot of air, so in my case it makes no sense at all. But if you want a new car and lots of space for your hard earned cash this is what you are looking for.

    Back in the day Toyota needed a partner to make the Aygo a viable business case so it partnered with PSA (now Stellantis, of course). Stellantis no longer sees this as a viable business case and left on its own Toyota will not replace the Aygo as such.

    There is a demand for a car like the C1, 108 and Aygo. Where I live they are everywhere. But with ever increasing development costs, the price of such a car would be too high, which means there is no business case. Instead they developed the Aygo X that would likely generate more cash, which makes perfect business sense.

  2. Good morning S.V. I concur entirely with your thoughts on the merits (or lack thereof) of these two vehicles. The Jogger looks appropriate to what might well be a much more austere future for us all in light of the current dismal events in Ukraine, while the Aygo X just looks trivial and pointless.

    While DTW is not the forum to debate geopolitical matters, I’m sure all our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and the terrible ordeal they are suffering.

    Slava Ukraini.

    1. 100% in agreement with you Daniel, on all counts. But I fear that Dacia have chosen the wrong engine – the Jogger should be a diesel and they have a perfectly good one available in-house.

    2. How long will it be before we see the de-merger of Dacia and AvtoVAZ?

    3. JTC – wash your mouth out, and your hands too if you’ve been handling the filthy fuel.

      We’re not allowed to say things like that these days…

  3. A valuable summation.

    The Aygo Cross is a appealing car let down by a feeble engine – the old Toyota 1KR-FE used in the original 2005 / Aygo / 107 / C1. The outgoing Peugeot and Citroën versions of the Kolin cars had the option of the much better 1.2 litre PSA PureTech engine, but the Aygo did not.

    Toyota know their customers better than I do, and perhaps the now-antiquated triple is adequate for the purposes of the typical Aygo buyer. Perhaps they never push their cars hard enough to hear the ominous sound of a bag of bolts emptied into a fast turning cement mixer. For those with higher expectations, there’s the Yaris Cross, for which the Aygo Cross serves as useful showroom bait.

    Dacia seem to have tackled the family hauler brief from several angles over the last two decades, the inconsistency probably coming from parent Renault warning the budget challenger off their patch when a product becomes too successful. The Jogger is closest to the original 2006 long wheelbase and high-roofed Logan MCV, a highly useful, if ungainly vehicle.

    The 2013-on second generation Logan MCV was a conventional 5-seat wagon, with no wheelbase stretch. The Dokker passenger van and Lodgy MPV were by then in place for those who needed more space or seats. Except they weren’t for several significant markets, including the UK.

    As of now, the Dokker passenger van has been dropped from the range, although it’s available as a Renault Express. It seems that the Lodgy also is also close to the end of production, although it’s not been officially confirmed. The Jogger therefore has a sizeable task to take on. Reviving the first-generation Logan MCV formula looks a smart move, particularly as the Jogger’s styling is far more coherent than the original and even aspirational – poor man’s XC90, anybody?

  4. An interesting article SV particularly in respect of Dacia. The Jogger has started to appear on some UK dealers websites of late but I had not noticed all that black plastic around the windows and wheel arches. Whilst it might save a few £££ it will surely discolour quickly and then look awful. The door handles will probably suffer the same fate.
    I also wonder who decides the names of their cars? Do they do group sessions and throw ideas around or is one individual responsible? On reflection maybe it shouldn’t matter what they are called if the price is right…

    1. I fear the nickname Dacia “Dogger” has sprung unbidden into my conciousness, so perhaps names do matter? With apologies to the gentle readers of DTW!

    2. Well, it’s certainty roomy enough for engaging comfortably that particular activity…😁

    3. The people deciding on Dacia’s names are probably the same that were responsible for Citroën’s Jumper and Jumpy – wisely renamed for anglophone markets…

  5. Nice summary, S.V.. The Jogger is a nice kind of car, I like the Yeti more than the Roomster, though.

    I fear I have detected a flourish of style, though:

    Then the funkily appointed Aygo ExCrossIncognito, the Bender of the car world:

    I fear the Aygo will miss its niche: too expensive* and impractical for a city car, too Bender (see above) to be truly ‘cool’. SUVs are blindingly popular though and in The Netherlands the most popular version of any given model is always the one with the most bells, whistles and gaudy make up (Mercedes don’t even bother to sell a non-AMG line A class anymore, I think), but the smallest possible engine – no, make that the smallest-but-one. We don’t do ‘poverty spec’ 🙄. So I might be entirely wrong about this.

    * that said, a Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10 is priced like a B-segment car as well these days.

    1. That’s a brilliant spot, Tom! 👍

      With the Jogger’s wheel-trim also apeing the XC40’s alloy wheel design, it seems unlikely to be a coincidence either.

      I still don’t like the XC40’s severe looking rear quarter-window treatment.

    2. I suppose they wanted to make it look dramatic. It also seems designed to encourage to upgrade to the two-tone option:

      A less severe treatment does diminish the distinctiveness, although there might well be a proper solution if you don’t half-ass it like me. Parking sensors are pretty great, though:

    3. I rather like your treatment, Tom. It’s certainly an improvement.

      Incidentally, not only is the XC40’s C-pillar very wide, but look at how narrow the transparent part of the rear window is:

      Rear three-quarter visibility must be dreadful, so parking sensors are an absolute necessity, I would think.

  6. I liked the formula of the first Logan MCV, even if it was a bit more utilitarian than strictly necessary. The Jogger deviates a bit from this purity, especially with its wannabe SUV add-ons, but I fear it’s about as no-nonsense as can realistically be expected in 2022. It’s not a car for me, though, with our 2-person household and very rarely hauling bigger stuff around, but if I were in that market…

  7. The Škoda Roomster is amazing as well as being unbeatably practical. It would make a nice companion to a BMW i3 for a surrealist 2-car garage.

  8. I still say (muttering mutinously) the Jogger should have a diesel option. Far more environmentally friendly than any petrol engine! And now back in my box….

  9. Had the opportunity to meet an Aygo X on the street – it’s not as bad as I thought it’s going to be when I first heard about the idea of a mini Toyota SUV, but by no means funky either, I think Toyota is late to the “black plastic is cool again” party. Recalling that these cars populated the showfloors in colors like red, yellow and blue back in the days is just a mere nostalgia now.
    On the other hand the interior looks like a clear upgrade – technically the same as the latest Yaris, the outgoing model had really dated huge grey/silver clusters, but I don’t see the viability of the rear doors. Though calling them ‘doors’ may be inappropriate – ‘child access hatch’ may be more on the point? I think the designers wanted a 3-door car, but the marketing department insisted they can’t sell 3-door cars anymore, 5 is a must and so these abominations of an opening came to be.
    One more fact I’m glad the article mentions is the 0-100 time of the car: it’s 1,5 seconds slower than the original 2005 model, which is by no means a massive de-evolution compared to how slow for example the new basic Clios (SCe 65: 17,1 s) or Hyundai i10s (1.0 with automatic: 17,3s!) are, but by no means an improvement to driveability either. I remember a few years back many journalists stating that a 10 second 0-100 time is essential for modern traffic – I believe that sentiment also belongs to the past now.

    1. Hmmm… I actually don’t remember when I last accelerated from standstill to 100 km/h in modern traffic. But maybe the places where I’m driving are very untypical.

    2. We’ve got quite a lot of dual carriageways where I live, so I’m often turning in to them from a minor road, from a standstill, and then accelerating. There is never the need, however, to accelerate violently – the gap required to enter safely means that when I accelerate, it’s pretty gentle. It would be lunacy to try to enter in front of a car that may, in fact, turn out to be doing 120 to 130 kmh, and only realize this as they were on top of me. Also, I find regularly driving a car to its limits quite tiring and pretty pointless.

  10. Is it completely childish to refer to the Toyotas as Cross Yaris (or Aygo) instead?

    1. Given the cultural connotation of the original Aygo’s iconic (IMO) facial expression, I’d say that X marks the spot where a light hearted take that matches the intersection of “cross” and endearing is perfectly in order.

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