Other Countries have Fantastic MPVs
Here in the UK, drivers have a pretty good choice of vehicles with seven seats. Whether you’re looking for cheap but capable (KIA, Ssangyong), something in the mid-range that you’re more happy to let the neighbours see (from Fiat and Ford to Peugeot and Volkswagen), or a serious piece of luxury and muscle (Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz), there is plenty on offer for seven-seat shoppers.
Invariably, however, other countries always seem to have fantastic looking models that never make it to the UK, with some never even reaching the shores of Europe. It is, of course, always an option to travel overseas to pick up that perfect seven-seater, but choosing the right one is half the battle.
The Mazda CX-9 is a good example of the kind of family vehicle British motorists are missing out on if they buy from home. Sold in the USA in the truck sector and in other markets as an SUV (or a crossover, known as CUV), Mazda’s big, roomy seven-seat CX-9 has been a hit both with discerning drivers and automotive journalists.
Mazda already has a dedicated following of buyers who appreciate the build quality, solid engineering and an approach to design that typically sets its products apart from Japan’s ‘big three’: Toyota, Honda and Nissan; and the CX-9 is no exception.
In addition, CX-9 owners enjoy sleek styling and fantastic utility. Reviewers praise the vehicle’s handling, with ‘agile’ being the most common adjective used. Thanks to a range of safety features, the CX-9 is also considered one of the safest SUVs on the worldwide platform.
The model’s biggest market is in the USA, but the car is also popular in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mazda recently announced it would start marketing the car in New Zealand as well, but such a privilege is yet to be afforded to the UK.
If you’re not willing to chase down the CX-9 overseas, there are a couple of seven-seater options available on home soil that might take your fancy; namely, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life and the Toyota Prius+.
Like the name suggests, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life has an abundance of interior space. Based on the shorter Caddy, which itself is based on the Golf platform, the extended wheelbase of the Maxi gives the Life more than enough room for seven people. Even with all three rows of seats utilised, there’s still plenty of luggage space and, with the seats removed completely, the VW Maxi Caddy Life has a huge cargo capacity.
The VW Caddy Maxi Life heritage as a van can be thanked for all that space, but despite its utilitarian origins, the Maxi Caddy Life has none of the exposed sheet metal normally seen in van conversions. Regardless of its credentials, however, most people don’t even know the model exists, as it is not marketed through Volkswagen’s UK car website. Those wishing to scope it out will need to peruse the commercial vehicles site instead.
Despite its size, the Maxi Caddy Life also boasts good fuel efficiency, with the BlueMotion turbodiesel managing almost 60mpg on the combined cycle.
If that’s still not green enough for you or you’re looking for something a little more modern, however, a Toyota is worth considering.
Toyota’s Prius is already well known in the green-motoring arena. Since its launch, it has become the darling of environmentally-minded Hollywood stars, helping to propel hybrid motoring into the mainstream.
In its next step in the hybrid arena, Toyota unveiled the Prius+ at the Geneva motor show a few weeks ago. This enlarged Hybrid MPV is the first full hybrid car available in Europe with seating for seven people. In addition to the expanded interior space, the Toyota Prius+ MPV comes with a host of special features which make it the sophisticated choice for those going green. All three seats in the second row are independent, and the third row features 50:50 splitting, making the Toyota Prius+ MPV fully flexible for both passengers and cargo.
Thanks to its advanced hybrid power train, the Prius+ is also the most economical seven-seater in Europe. The Hybrid Synergy Drive makes it the first non-plug-in Toyota hybrid to come with lithium-ion batteries. As with the previous Pruis, the vehicle offers a choice of three on-demand driving modes. In EV (Electric) mode, zero tailpipe emissions are produced.