PG RATED

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story -

A SEVEN-SEATER SUV means more com­pro­mises than a mi­nor­ity govern­ment in Can­berra.

You can fit seven but what about prams, bi­cy­cles, bags — let alone the gear for a hol­i­day?

That’s why people-movers are still the smart choice for Brady Bunch fam­i­lies or any­one who needs seven seats for more than just a footie match or a weekend away.

What would I choose? cen­tral col­umn with out­lets for phone et al.

The gear shifter is an­gled north­east of the steer­ing col­umn so you won’t be for­ever knock­ing it into neu­tral al la Mercedes. Cop the torch in­side the rear com­part­ment and — of course — the ver­sa­til­ity af­forded by flat-fold­ing the sec­ond and third-row seats.

Then there’s the stuff you stum­ble upon later — un­der­floor stor­age for the sec­ond row means iPads won’t be stamped on and un­fin­ished food will rot to com­post.

Few of these fix­tures are unique but the way in which they’re seam­lessly in­te­grated is. There’s the fam­ily car then there’s this one, al­most Kia Grand Car­ni­val (From $38,990) The fully loaded Plat­inum has leather seats and elec­tric slid­ing doors, yet is still rel­a­tively af­ford­able (it’s from $52,290). But the ba­sics are all good. It’s the smart — and value — choice for heavy haul­ing. Mercedes-Benz Viano (From $78,635) Yes, it’s ex­pen­sive, and it’s as boxy as any­thing that ar­rives from FedEx, but the Viano is a van with class and qual­ity. If you have the money, it’s the right choice for mov­ing lots of people re­defin­ing that no­tion. Hard to think the great cu­bist, whose name adorns the tail, would not have been taken with it.

SAFETY

To the for­mi­da­ble ar­ray of cam­eras and alarms, add crash­wor­thi­ness. The Euro­pean safety agency’s fives­tar award in­cludes 88 per cent for child pro­tec­tion.

DRIV­ING

The prac­ti­cal mo­tif ex­tends to the drive. Stylish and clever though it is, dy­nam­i­cally the Pi­casso is filed un­der “de­vice”. What of it? Our drive out of Auck­land on Tues­day taxes it with no greater weight than two up­front but it’s hard to see how this driv­e­train will labour un­der load. It’s quick to sum­mon all and it also has enough lux­ury to en­sure hol­i­days are not a chore. Two Hyundai i20s ($15,590 each) You can­not fit seven people into a baby i20, but you can if you get a pair. And that will still cost less than a peo­ple­mover, with far more flex­i­bil­ity for days when you don’t need all the seats. With the con­flict­ing needs of 21stcen­tury fam­i­lies, two cheapto-run tid­dlers make more sense than a gi­ant tod­dler.

Paul Gover

VER­DICT

370Nm at the flex of your foot or, if that’s some­how too slow, by click­ing the pad­dle-shifter.

Avoid the swank of op­tional 18-inch­ers. These look hot but a bling fam­ily bus is not the last word in style — and they’re apt to con­vey within the noise and feel of coarser sur­faces.

A Pi­casso steers with zero ef­fort, though the wheel weights up some­what with speed. We’ll take an­other look when we can col­lar rear-seat vol­un­teers.

Ex­pe­ri­ence in­di­cates that the more on board the more re­laxed and com­fort­able this con­struct be­comes. Which is rather the point. This bur­geon­ing class of car ac­quires a new leader. This is one we’d have.

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