SINGAPORE – Cars are expensive in Singapore – duh. So it’s no wonder that they often have to pull multiple duties – besides being transport for a whole family, they also need to be flexible and hold a lot of stuff, or a lot of people, and still be easy to drive and park.
That’s why multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) are so popular, and by far the most popular are those with seven-seats, from smaller, affordable ones like the Honda Mobilio, Kia Carens, and Volkswagen Touran, to bigger MPVs like the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Honda Odyssey or armchairs with wheels like the Toyota Alphard.
But as we were driving the five-seat version of the C4, the ‘non-Grand’ C4 Picasso, we pondered the question: Are there convincing reasons to buy a five-seat MPV? As it turns out, there are.
1. Five-seaters mean you don’t feel so dad-like
For example the non-Grand Picasso is 4,428mm long with a 2,785mm wheelbase, and it weighs 1,320kg. The seven-seat Grand Picasso is 4,485mm long and has a 2,840mm wheelbase, while the equivalent model weighs 1,347kg – not counting the fact that it might have to carry two extra adults. That might not sound like much, but to anyone with the slightest interest in driving, less is always better. So a five-seater will be more fun to drive since it doesn’t feel like you’ve become a bus captain and you have an excuse not to take people you don’t like. You could even take out all the rear seats and do a trackday. Or put a V10 engine in the rear like Renault did. Okay, that’s a joke, but you get the idea.
2. They’re cheaper, and cheaper to run
Back to the Citroen in case, the five-seat C4 Picasso is some $18,000 cheaper than a seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso, which is a seven percent premium over the car’s $127,988 with COE list price (as of October 2015) and it’s no chump change. The regular Picasso packs almost exactly the same level of equipment and is quicker, drives slightly better and is more fuel efficient plus it’s easier to park as well.
3. They’re a trending thing now
With the craze of everything but the conventional sedan bodystyle, there are fewer reasons for you to buy a three-box body style unless you really want to be old-school (read ‘ah-pek’). SUVs, estates and hatchbacks are where it’s at: In the past half-year we’ve tested cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, the Mini Clubman and the VW Golf Sportsvan (which is now launching in Singapore), all of which are five-seat cars that boast greater practicality thanks to a larger boot. Sounds familiar? Yep, they’re basically five-seat MPVs by another name. BMW’s first MPV, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, has only five seats, versus the soon to debut, seven-inside Gran Tourer, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a sales success either.