Wagons designed for five-plus-two

2011-04-08 10:09

Easter holidays are just around the corner and with the long weekends ahead, you’re going to need a bigger car to get the visiting family around.

Mazda 5
The Mazda 5 will always be a winner even if it’s purely for its automatic sliding doors.

The doors slide open on either side of the car with the touch of a button.

It is one of the few seven-seaters which don’t leave you cringing at the idea of having the doors banging into someone else’s car, leaving scratch marks that make you depart in a hurry.

It’s spacious with loads of legroom in the rear, while the fold-down trays behind the front seats come in very useful.

Like most seven-seaters, the third row is smaller than the second, but I managed to fit two friends in there. They didn’t complain about the legroom, but instead loved the cup holders to keep their milkshakes and cold drinks from spilling.

VW Touran
The VW 1.2 TSI Touran is one of the easiest multipurpose vehicles to drive. For its small engine and low power figures, it’s quite throaty.

Not only does it have a comfortable drive with a soft suspension, it also has loads of space and is fuel efficient. I used less than half a tank of petrol after driving around for a week.

A third row of seats are available as an option for R7 900. Though it only spurts out 77kW of power, the car is more than capable of being used as a daily drive and doing a few trips to the football field. I had to babysit ­recently and had to ferry children around to get some ice cream. There was enough elbow room to keep them from spilling any on each other.

Though it is a bit pricey considering the engine size, its practicality makes it worth it.

Subaru Tribeca
The Tribeca is Subaru’s seven-seater sports-utility vehicle. Though it’s more of a five-plus-two, the car saw a price drop from R599 000 to R549 000 last month.

It has subtle styling queues that don’t shout. Design lines flow and are neat, yet it has a sturdy stance. While the car’s looks might leave nothing to write home about, the interior is rather fancy and won the American Ward’s AutoWorld Interior of the Year for 2009.

The cockpit is very neat and almost curves around the driver and front passenger.

On the downside, it’s a bit of a gas guzzler and isn’t environmentally friendly, with very high carbon dioxide emissions.

Nissan Qashqai + 2
For some reason, the Qashqai has more female buyers and drivers than most SUVs in South Africa.

I find this odd because the Qashqai comes across as a macho-looking car, with big wheel arches and high ground clearance.

Perhaps it’s the comfortable seating or simple layout of the interior, because it’s not the prettiest of cars.

Space in the third row does seem a bit tight and leaves very little legroom compared to other seven-seaters.

Chevrolet Captiva
The Captiva is an all-rounder but is underestimated by the public.

Not only is it a seven-seater, but it makes for a very capable off-roader, with an option of 17-inch or 19-inch wheels.

On a recent off-road experience with Chevrolet, the car was used to demonstrate all sorts of tricky situations one would encounter when out bundu-bashing.

The interior features updated finishes and ice-blue back lighting with a “wrap-around” fascia. The latter flows into the driver’s and front-passenger doors, creating a dual-cockpit look. It also features hill-start assist, an electric handbrake and large cup holders.

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