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One may have come across them as rental cars on Majorca. Perhaps the female partner is of the opinion, that the interior of a vehicle cannot be roomy enough. The prospect of never again having any transport problems, is certainly very tempting. The outside dimensions of minivans are not all that much bigger than an estate car, and in most cases, they are only moderately more expensive, so there is hardly any difference to driving a normal saloon car. On the contrary, the slightly higher sitting position offers a much better all-round view.


In some countries minivans are also called MPVs (Multi-Purpose-Vehicles) which suggests their versatility. They are developed, by a mass-production manufacturer who lays out the body platform for his - as a rule - middle of the range vehicle, in such a way that it can be somewhat lengthened and be fitted with a higher body construction. Whereby, seven fold-down- or removable seats are also possible. The MPVs take up no more space on the roads than saloon cars do, which makes the vehicle still fairly suited for urban traffic. With the variable seating, the luggage room can be increased, step by step, up to approx. two cubic metres.


The physics can only be outwitted to a degree. A longer vehicle can also have a low air resistance, with shorter and higher cars, not only the larger cross-sectional surface, but also the general shape is less favorable. Added to this, are the, at least 200 kg of additional weight. Fast travelling on motorways increases the consumption, particularly if one has to accelerate often to keep up with the others in the fast lane. The only alternative remaining, is the more expensive diesel engine. However these are only economical after a certain, fairly high annual mileage.

One could consider such a minivan, because of its weight, to be a larger and accordingly more comfortable saloon car. This however, is not the case. A vehicle must be always designed to accomodate its permitted gross weight. Particularly the suspension. If one adds up the weight of seven people and their luggage, the usable load would be approx. 550 kg. Certainly, if the car is fully loaded, it can be fairly comfortable. If not, the suspension may be as hard as a sports-car. However, due to the high body-work construction, it is anything but a sports-car.

Now, to the seats. In most cases they can only be folded down if they are thinly upholstered and offer little side support. With easily removable seats, one must always consider beforehand, whether or not one needs the entire transport area. However, if you do actually travel with several people, and the children sit in the rear, you then often have the situation, where the thinly upholstered third row of seats, compared with the first and second row, also suffer the inferior comfort due to the harder suspension. The problem could be solved with pneumatic suspension, but in this class, it can't be had for anything near a reasonable price. 08/10

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