Britain’s top people carriers: What’s in an MPV?


Although we’ve not got a patch on the Americans, we British do love our big cars. Jeeps and Land Rovers have been extraordinarily popular in the UK for decades, and even though the city car has risen in popularity recently, there’s still a huge market and demand for people carriers or MPVs.

The innovation in this particular market is extraordinary. The SEAT Alhambra, for example, , with a number of technical innovations such as parking sensors and sliding electric doors helping to accentuate the utility side of the vehicle as well as enabling drivers to handle the increased size.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager, on the other hand, is part of the , with more than thirteen million units sold worldwide and more than 260 awards to its name. It’s available on the road from just over £28,000 and comes with a collision detection system, sliding doors and a luxury in-car entertainment system. It’s certainly a car for the style-conscious and all at a very reasonable price considering what’s included with the car.

Ford were one of the car manufacturers to really try to capitalise on the increase in the MPV market, but many think they have spread themselves too thinly, with the B-MAX, C-MAX and S-MAX all clamouring for space in the already-crowded MPV market. Old stalwarts such as the Vauxhall Zafira, Citroen C4 Picasso and the Renault Scenic are still available in new models, alongside new pretenders such as the Kia Carens, which features a panoramic roof, an extraordinary amount of storage space for its size and MPG hitting more than 60 on a good run.

People carriers are often seen as more family-friendly alternatives to 4x4s, some of which are still seen as the gas-guzzling Chelsea Tractors driven by the school-drop-off mums, although in recent years they’ve become much, much greener and are now pushing many family hatchbacks to the line in terms of fuel economy and environmental credentials. The ability to get seven people comfortably in a car, though, is a big pull especially for large families. Being able to go on camping trips or holidays with seven people and a load of luggage without feeling cramped or squashed is something which isn’t an option for anyone but an MPV owner.

Safety is also a huge bonus, with the increased size giving extra protection to the occupants and a number of added technological safety features usually available on MPVs due to their size. As visibility can be restricted, parking sensors, crash detection and a number of other safety features tend to be available as standard on people carriers whereas they otherwise wouldn’t be on smaller models of car. This can give the driver that added feeling of security and protection which they wouldn’t have with a conventional family hatchback or even with a lot of 4×4 models.

With a number of small business owners choosing to use MPVs over vans, too, the demand has grown in recent years. Being able to use your people carrier as a ‘hybrid’ commercial vehicle during the week and to ferry your family about at the weekend is a valuable asset to many people who have started up small businesses in the past few years, and just goes to show the versatility of the multi-person vehicle and the attachments that British people have to their cars.

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