Unlike many car enthusiasts who absolutely despise MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) or minivans, I happen to feel that so long as a vehicle can serve a purpose, it deserves to be appreciated. Without MPVs, big families and big businessmen alike would find it more inconvenient to get around. It’s always easier for large families to travel together and I’m pretty sure big businessmen want the lounging space that a large MPV can accord them.
Most MPVs don’t offer much in terms of driving performance or handling because they were engineered to excel as family-friendly people-movers instead. Despite that, here are the five minivans that I’ve come to appreciate over the years:Toyota Alphard
This ginormous, slab-sided MPV has tremendous road presence and even towers over Rolls-Royce Phantoms. Show up to a business meeting and everyone there will know you mean business. The Alphard’s interior exudes a luxurious feel, offering plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the airiness lent to it by the panoramic sunroof. This oversized minivan does not pack much “go”, but it’s the gentle ride and on-board refinement you’ll appreciate.
While other manufacturers claim to have seven-seater MPVs, the Sharan actually has a third-row that’s actually roomy enough for adults. For added convenience, the seats are also easy to fold and manoeuvre so that the interior can be utilised for load-hauling purposes, too.
You’re going to find this difficult to believe, but the S-Max really is one of the most fun-to-drive MPVs available. The steering is accurate, body roll is well-controlled and the Ecoboost motor does lend it a good degree of punchy performance.
Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
This futuristic-looking French number has irresistible styling and a smooth ride. If you love modern technology, you’ll love its digitised instrument cluster and touchscreen controls for the air-con and infotainment. The only downside is this minivan’s clunky robotised manual gearbox.
Opel Zafira Tourer
One of the most underrated MPVs available today, in my opinion. Packing a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine (a 1.4-litre turbo variant is also available), the Zafira is relatively zippy and handles just as well (if not better than) the Ford S-Max.