The multi-purpose vehicle is dead, right? Well, the abrupt rise of the soft-roading SUV has all but killed off the traditional family hauler.
But not entirely. Thereâ€
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Yes, if you find yourself drowning in the current tsunami of SUVs, consider one of these practical yet stylish MPV alternatives. Strangely enough, they may even make you stand out from the crowd.
1. Citroen C4 Picasso
MPVs tend to be awfully bland to look at. The latest version of the Citroen C4 Picasso clearly didnâ€
The brave styling theme continues inside, where a seven-inch touchscreen interface and an optional 12-inch panoramic HD display combine to kick the traditional slew of dashboard buttons to the kerb. There are plenty of gadgets available (including radar-guided cruise control, front seating massage functions, and even an electric front passenger footrest) and storage is a strong point, too.
The eye-catching MPV can be had with a frugal, 1.6-litre turbo-diesel heart capable of returning a claimed 4.0 litres per 100km. And should you and your partner share a particular disdain for contraception, thereâ€
2. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
Yes, BMW has built an MPV. And, yes, itâ€
Interestingly, it can be had with a gem of an engine: the 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol unit that does duty in the latest MINI Cooper. This 100kW three-potter is found in the 218i Active Tourer, while thereâ€
The cabin is apparently a highly flexible space (with five seats as standard and rumours of a seven-seater option arriving later), while the materials used appear to be of typical German quality. And, of course, since itâ€
3. Mercedes-Benz B-Class
In an attempt to prevent the B-Class from fading into the background, the folks at Mercedes-Benz have just given their MPV a bit of a facelift (expect to see it at the Paris Motor Show). Thanks to a redesigned bumper, grille and headlights, as well as new tail-lights, the chunky German people-mover now looks a fair bit sportier.
Inside, there are a few changes too, including the addition of a larger colour infotainment screen, new instrument gauges and as many as 12 colours for the ambient lighting. Of course, there are also all sorts of safety assistance systems available, including â€œautonomous partial brakingâ€ to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.
Engine choices for the five-seater are pretty varied, too, and include a selection of petrol and diesel units. Not your cup of tea? Well, some markets also get an â€œElectric Driveâ€ model, which cleverly houses its lithium-ion battery in the underbody, boasts a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.9 seconds and emits exactly zero CO2. Splendid.
4. Peugeot 3008
Consider the Peugeot 3008 in the metal, and you may be hard-pressed to define it. No, itâ€
The cabin is getting a little dated, but it still boasts all sorts of funky design elements, including a long row of toggle switches on the centre console. The luggage compartment, though, is where the 3008 scores particularly well. Yes, the boot is accessed via a two-piece tailgate and can deal with some 1600 litres with the split rear seats folded flat. It also includes a false floor that can be fixed at three different levels.
The efficient yet grunty 1997cc turbo-diesel engine â€“ bolted to a surprisingly capable six-speed automatic transmission â€“ is the one to have here. Itâ€
5. Kia Soul
Okay, so the Kia Soul is compact. Very compact. But weâ€
And, in certain markets, the Soul is also available as an electric vehicle. The Soul EVâ€