MPVs have made a mega comeback - here are 4 people movers you could consider as a family car

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People movers have found a new lease on life in the local new vehicle market. South Africans love to hit the road again after two treacherous Covid-19 years. News24 Motoring's Janine van der Post looks at four stand-out models that make good picks.


If there's one thing Covid-19 has brought back, it's a new love for local travel. Not too long ago, there was a time when we couldn't even leave our municipality, never mind the province. And, because we were all cooped up at home, getting more than enough of our loved ones, the only thing we could do was go for long drives and find a love for becoming tourists in our own little towns.

There's nothing I love more than gathering up in a big car and driving off to a family gathering. My parents are also getting older, so we try and spend as much time as we can with them. Being able to take my brother along, with his two toddlers, is an added bonus. But to fill so many bums on seats, you need a people mover.

In a time when we thought the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) was dying a slow death, it has gained popularity and the segment has found a new lease on life.

Staria
Hyundai Staria

Here are four models we've driven recently that could tick the right boxes for you, too:

Hyundai Staria

It might look like a vehicle ahead of its time. Hyundai's products fall nothing short of almost perfect these days. The Staria replaces the H1 minivan in the Korean range, and is available as a nine or 11 seater. There's also a Multicab version (R764 900), which makes for a perfect alternative to a bakkie, and there's a panel van available.

It's packed with all the bells and whistles, even in the most 'basic' entry-level version, the R2.2-litre 9-seater Executive model priced from R818 900. It might seem pricey on paper, but it genuinely is a good buy if it suits your needs as a family vehicle, and even better if it's used for businesses looking for luxurious people movers. 

2022 Hyundai Staria Multicab

The dual automatic sliding doors are a boon. It also has a dual sunroof, swivel seats, which you could configure to your liking, USB ports all over to keep devices connected, cup holders for everyone and it's packed with safety features like the pre-collision avoidance system. 

OPINION | Why the Hyundai Staria minivan is a vehicle in my dream garage

Despite its size, it's extremely comfortable to drive and impressively frugal on the highway. Hyundai claims a reading of 8.7-litres/100km but you can achieve lower with economical driving. I've managed to bring the consumption down to just 6.1-litres/100km average while driving at the national speed limit - with the aircon blasting (and even lower to 5.9-litres/100km on a good run). When you're bustling about in stop/go traffic, expect a higher 7.9 to 8.0-litres/100km. 

Opel Zafira Life
2022 Opel Zafira Life

Opel Zafira Life

When the Opel Combo Life was launched, I was hooked. It was practical, frugal and fun to drive; it still is. And, with pricing starting from R458 900, it makes an excellent alternative vehicle to a bakkie as well. So when news came that the Zafira Life was coming our way, I was excited. Straight off the bat, I have to say I was somewhat disappointed because I was expecting to feel the same hype as I had with the Combo models. 

It might not look as appealing as its rivals, but it really is not a bad car at all; it has dual sliding doors, too, and can seat up to eight people with numerous seating configurations. And, as a trump card, you can access your cargo area with a nifty rear window/boot lid instead of having to open the entire back door.

REVIEW | Zafira Life embraces practical lifestyle, but this new Opel has a point to prove

It has a panoramic roof, and cool massaging function seats (Elegance model), but the luxury that's draped in the Hyundai Staria and Kia Carnival is lacking.

Opel Zafira Life
2022 Opel Zafira Life

To be fair, it has its proper share of standard equipment. There's smart beam functionality with the headlights, driving aid systems, including front and rear park assist. There are two trim levels available in the range: Edition, which is priced from R781 900 and the Elegance, priced at R902 900. 

Models feature a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine good for 110kW and 370Nm. Opel claims fuel consumption is rated at 7.2-litres/100km with urban driving and 6.3-litres/100km on the combined cycle. These claims are not far-fetched and are quite attainable, in fact, you could better it as I did during our test period. Naturally, weather conditions and your style of driving play a huge role. Despite its size, the Zafira Life has surprisingly good driving dynamics and gear changes are smooth on the 8-speed automatic gearbox.


2022 Opel Zafira Life Elegance
2022 Opel Zafira Life Elegance
    


If I had a small business and I needed to move people on the daily, this would be my pick. Or, perhaps you're transporting children to school, this would be ideal too. But, if you're a family man or woman, who travels often and takes numerous road trips, you'd probably want something a lot more plush. This would do quite fine, too.

VW Caddy 7-seater

I was going to add the VW Kombi or Caravelle in this spot, as these too are good vehicles with a significant legacy. But, the latest rendition of the brand's Caddy is a must on this list. Available in various options from a panel van, which has oodles of space, a standard five-seater or a seven-seater vehicle, it's the latter that tickles our fancy.  

2022 Volkswagen Caddy
2022 Volkswagen Caddy

The Caddy is available with a 6-speed manual transmission with an option of  two powerful combustion engines; one diesel and one petrol. These reliable engines make for extremely frugal consumption readings, I managed to get an average reading of 5.7-litres/100km on the highway and 6.0-litres for combined urban driving. It's rather peppy to drive, and I am a big fan of the high-quality upholstery-covered seats; it's quite easy to clean too. The third row of seats are most likely more comfortable for children. It could seat a couple of slim adults, but I wouldn't put anyone back there if they're taller than the average Joe.

2022 Volkswagen Caddy is officially on sale in SA, and there are plenty to choose from

It's available in these three models: a 1.6i-litre 81kW/152Nm manual model, a 2.0-litre TDi 81kW/300Nm manual model or a Maxi 2.0-litre TDi 81kW/300Nm manual model.

2022 Volkswagen Caddy
2022 Volkswagen Caddy

The seven-seater also has dual sliding doors - clearly this is a highlight for me on all four models listed in this article. With an independent seven-year-old, who wants to open and close doors herself, these are the best as she doesn't need one of her parents to come and hold the door for her, especially when we're in tight parking bays. 

Other features include black roof rails, drawers under the front seats, front and rear park sensors, rear-view camera system, a trailer hitch and LED headlights with separate daytime running lights, and a multi-function steering wheel.

But what's great about the Caddy is that it has evolved with the times, and also the rest of the brand's progression. It also features a digital smart infotainment system with a Composition 20.96cm (8.25-inch) intuitive touchscreen radio. It's also available with App-Connect, so you can access your favourite entertainment, apps and take calls from your smartphone.

2022 Volkswagen Caddy
2022 Volkswagen Caddy



Pricing for the five-seater is from R494 200 and the seven-seater from R612 200. 

Kia Carnival

I have a tough time picking between the Staria and the Carnival from Hyundai's sister brand, Kia. The Carnival, though, just takes things up another level, and rates better as a daily family vehicle. This is luxury at its finest, with quality materials, even more USB ports to keep all the kids happy - even in the third row of seats. It also has automatic sliding doors and is packed with every feature you could possibly imagine. 

 REVIEW | Kia Carnival is the ultimate family party bus with more space than a small apartment
Kia Carnival
2022 Kia Carnival


Here, too, the driving dynamics and fuel consumption rate highly. Although it could be considered a minivan, it's ease of driving is superb. Whether you're cruising on the coast on a Sunday drive, or putting foot on a long road trip, the Carnival can hold its own under any circumstance or road condition. It would hardly feel bumps on a bad, rutty road too.

Materials are lush, seats are extremely comfortable and its technology is innovative. The cabin is very driver focused and, despite the myriad of features, the driver can control most functions from the multi-functioning steering wheel.

Opel Zafira Life
Opel Zafira Life

Pricing for the Carnival range starts from R799 995. It ticks many boxes for me, and is probably the best people mover I've driven so far this year, if not one of the best cars I've driven all year. 

Kia knows exactly how to place their products, and how to price it too. And, when you stack it up against the rest of its rivals in the segment, the Carnival wins hands down by a long shot.


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