Part Three – MPV’s
BMW Active Tourer
Easily the most practical BMW in the range the 2 series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer come with five or seven seats and the option of four-wheel-drive. It’s a family car that is small enough to be parked just about anywhere while inside the versatile interior will appeal with plenty of space and storage areas throughout. Along with a range of petrol and diesel engine choices comes a petrol/ electric hybrid powered by a 1.5-litre, 134bhp, three cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels and an 88bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels. According to BMW it will achieve a fuel sipping 141 miles per gallon while CO2 emissions are a mere 46gm/k.
On the road all versions drive well and are reasonably refined though tyre noise is an issue. BMW have prioritised practicality, space and functionality over driving dynamics so its not the ultimate driving machine BMW built a reputation on but its a well equipped and comfortable family car.
Prices start from €33,440
Ford’s S-Max has won legions of devoted fans as the driver’s MPV of choice. Outside it is a smart and handsome looking car while inside the family focused interior comes with seven seats and flexible space and storage options. Based on the Mondeo the S-Max is good to drive and while comfort is the key priority it still manages to feel lively on the road. Buyers can choose from a variety of petrol or diesel engines and all offer a good blend of economy and performance given the size of vehicle. There is also the option of all-wheel drive but unless you really need it, it would be hard to justify the extra cost and reduced economy. The S-Max’s combination of driver enjoyment, space and ride comfort have always tempted buyers and while MPVs struggle to lure buyers away from SUVs few offer the versatility and driving dynamics of Ford’s people carrier.
Prices start from €39,285
Opel Zafira Tourer
The “Flex7″ seating system may no longer be the Zafria’s unique party trick but it is still an impressive MPV. Inside there is a great comfort and space for seven with really good visibility plus kids will love the way you can hide all your rubbish away in a variety of slots and cubby holes.
On the road it is good to drive and while not designed to set any speed records on the Nürburgring there is plenty of oomph for overtaking confidently and it’s more agile than you’d think given its size. Engine wise there’s a decent selection so choice is no problem. Opel’s armoury of active and passive safety features include Opel Eye a driver assistance system that continuously mointors, surrounding vehicles and road markings. Spacious with a practical interior and good to drive the Zafira is a good choice for a growing family.
Prices start from €29,995
When Renault’s Scenic rolled off the production line more than 30 years ago, it transformed the world of family motoring forever. Revamped in 2016 it now sports a more steeply-angled roof, a two-tone colour scheme, rugged looks and with enormous 20-inch wheels as standard, it certainly has got kerb appeal. According to Renault, the cabin accounts for 80pc of the car’s entire volume. It also boasts a best-in-class 572 litres of boot space Inside, it has benefited from higher quality materials and behind the wheel visibility is excellent with a really good driving position. A new 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen allows everything to be controlled via the R-Link system. Space is one of the key priorities in a family car and the new Scenic feels much more roomy than the previous version. Irish buyers are likely to opt for the diesel 1.5 dCi with 110 bhp or 130 bhp. There’s a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a new seven-speed EDC automatic. The Scenic range features a sharper design, extra equipment and improved driving dynamics. Plus with a good dose of French flair and seductive appeal, it makes rivals look positively dull.
Prices start from €26,300
The golden age of MPVs may have passed but amid the clamour of SUVs it is worth remembering why people carriers once held such a prominent place on the list of family must buys. Volkswagen’s seven-seat Tournan is a reminder of the quientessial virtues of an MPV. There are better-looking MPVs on the market but inside there is an impressive amount of space to allow sufficient space between sibililings, enough to delay the “Are we there yet?” question which is a major plus for family motoring. Crucially all Tourans come with 7 seats as standard – with 3 point seat belts all round and 5 ISOFIX anchor points. The 2nd row of seating has 3 individual seats of equal size. The car is jammed with clever stuff to keep you and all aboard safe including a host of safety features and an active bonnet with pedestrian monitoring that comes as standard. On the road its refined and smooth to drive and feels small and nimble. One petrol engine is on offer a 1.2 or buyers can choose from 2 diesels, a 1.6 or a 2.0 litre. This sensible MPV may not garner any admiring glances but for a family car it offers pretty much everything you could want.
Prices start from €30,045
31st May, 2018