At the start of the 21st Century Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPV) like Renault’s Espace and Vauxhall’s Zafira were considered to be the ideal family motor. These large, slab-sided cars, essentially based on vans, were roomy, comfortable and practical and for a long time found favour with the car-buying public. Then the SUV came along and, like fickle lovers, the public turned to them leaving the poor old MPV out in the cold.
The MPV Is Dead
With the mighty SUV being the primary focus of investment and general money-spinning for car makers, other body styles have to fight for survival. Thus sales of MPV’s have plummeted and that seems a shame. Ford, for example, are discontinuing the C-Max and probably the S-Max and Galaxy too and other brands have already or are now following suit. Less than a half-million units were sold across the whole of Europe last year. A few manufacturers have made a bit of an effort to inject new life into this most useful of motors. The Citroen Space Tourer is an example; it is both stylish and good to drive; sadly its charms are wasted on an SUV obsessed car market place, yet hope springs eternal.
Long Live The MPV
Now though, the struggling segment is being thrown a lifeline as car manufacturers are taking a new look at this old idea. The solution seems to be to take vans such as the Volkswagen Transporter and Vauxhall Vivaro and offer an alternative in the form of passenger versions. The light at the end of the tunnel has been lit by the Mercedes-Benz V class van, which is also sold as a passenger vehicle and one that has done well in its homeland of Germany, where MPVs remain reasonably popular.
This has encouraged other brands to have a re-think. The plan is to make their vans sophisticated enough to appeal to potential MPV customers by obviously adding more seats and windows to differentiate them from the commercial versions and absolutely filling them to the brim with the latest technology, thus once again appealing to the modern family.
The MPV then is a car for shifting family and things over longer distances in ease and comfort. The point of the MPV is that the cabin is designed for maximum space. Multi-purpose vehicles are as standard a big box so don’t be expecting bold handling. They offer five or seven seats with supple suspension that smooths out the bumps although at the expense of body roll control and they can cope equally with holiday luggage and trips to the DIY store. They are cruisers not racers.
The more fashion conscious SUV is generally better looking but has less space than the functional MPV. More performance orientated, they usually offer a more involving driving experience and, in some cases, some measure of off-road ability when fitted with all-wheel drive.
It seems unlikely that the MPV will never be more than a niche market in the modern motoring world but, by bringing them bang up to date they may yet again appeal to the family market. Meanwhile thanks to our comprehensive online service we can offer a wide variety of cars
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