Humble Opinions: Middle of the road MPV madness!

Mike Humble:



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There are a lot of positive things going for the MPV despite the fact that most petrol headed folk loath these vehicles with a passion. On a truly selfish note, they made me an awful lot of money and in the month of September 2007 I earned a smidge over £400 in commission alone with the Vauxhall Zafira. They serve a purpose and have a place on our ever crowded roads – but we don’t have to like them do we?

Staying with Vauxhall for a moment longer, I’ll never forget the man who bought a Zafira from me who had fallen in love and married an ex girlfriend from his youth. They dated for a while in their late teens, drifted apart and he ended up working in Saudi for a few years. By the magic of the internet they got back in touch many years later both with a failed marriage and children behind them, met up again and fell in love – Ahh!

It’s a 100% true heart-warming tale worthy of a book or a film all of its own. They came into my showroom with all the grace of the Brady Bunch on speed to buy a car that they wouldn’t have to cram everyone into like the Tokyo Metro. The man of the clan part exchanged his leggy but box fresh BMW 530i that truly was his pride and joy – all in the name of love you might say, but behind his eyes a little piece of him died that day.

As he trundled away with his Nescafe family safely strapped into his new car, I felt his pain and sorrow, imagine his the horror of swapping that truly stunning beemer for a brick on wheels with Peppa Pig emitting from the stereo. As we chatted when we first met, it was obvious that he really appreciated a quick quality car. Here he sat in front of me with two of his own and two kids with his new wife, his motoring life had ended.

I worked with a colleague a few moons back who jovially nicknamed an MPV as a ‘Kiddie Coffin’ and personally, if I want something with Captains chairs and more glazing than Pilkington – keep your Galaxahambradonafira GLS 2.0 CDTi, I’ll marry a filthy rich Countess and buy a Catamaran. Partly, my ever increasing despise for a panel van with windows is a result of what was witnessed over the festive period.

If this is what family motoring has come to - I`m thankful for just a girlfriend and a cat!
If this is what family motoring has come to – I’m thankful for having just a girlfriend and a cat!

Both I and the present partners family are a bit like an exploded tree – we have branches everywhere. Subsequently, visiting them over Christmas / New Year requires a certain kind of logistical planning that would cause mayhem in a Stobart Traffic Office. But as they say ‘Christmas comes but once a year’ so we don’t complain – besides, living well over 130 miles from the nearest dearest does come advantages… we get left in peace!

Our return journey back to our peaceful suburban world of leafy Sussex ourselves was one of the most traumatic I have ever endured in 25 years of driving. I was passenger for the bulk of the journey and my normal duties as co-pilot include dribbling on my shirt collar and snoring my conkers off. She’s that good a driver you see – her only vice being that she thinks the left hand stalk on the steering column is for hanging a magic tree and nothing else.

Throwing the trusty Golf into the southbound Toddington Services on the M1 near Luton she admits defeat and refuses point blank to travel any further which was very out of character. A leg stretch and a splash n dash follow before we swap places for the last 80 miles of the journey. By the time I had put the Panzer wagon into top gear, I quickly realised her frustration and angst with the traffic.

Being someone who likes to be reasonably up to speed with motoring related events, someone had clearly failed to inform me that the 26th of December was National MPV Lanes 2 & 3 Clogging Day. It seemed that every time progress was being made yet another doom blue or dirty silver people carrier with paw printed steamed up windows would slew into your lane with zero indication or consideration.

The traffic was not even that heavy on the day it was just that the middle and outside lanes were gummed up with badly driven Scenic’s Zafira’s or ruddy Ford Galaxi. Quite clearly your driving standards are removed and your spatial awareness is halved once you climb into the spilt milk shake MacDonalds littered interior and plug in the belt. Sorry if this offends but it was my experience on the day… and generally come to think of it.

And yet it’s not just the Motorways either. Once not too long ago, driving in London was akin to medieval jousting matches with buses, couriers on knackered Honda CX500 motor bikes and black cabs. Not any more as there is a new kid in town and he drives a Ford Galaxy mini cab for Addison Lee. They also wreak havoc on my local M23 ferrying people to and from Gatwick Airport in the early hours or middle of night.

Only just the other day how a massive pile up never happened is beyond me as an aforementioned MPV mini cab was hanging onto the south bound M23 at 5.00am doing just 50 mph – it was absolute chaos in every sense of the word. So there we have it and my New Year rant is almost over – I understand the purpose of the MPV – just please PLEASE learn to bloody drive them!

The surprisingly talented VXR Zafira - For the family person who refuses to wither and fade away!
The surprisingly talented VXR Zafira – For the family person who refuses to wither and fade away!

 My thoughts are this; just because your life of free spirits and all night parties may be over due to an ever expanding family, your driving standards ought not to change. Vauxhall saw a gap in the market for an MPV that drove and handled like a go Kart, it was the Zafira GSi Turbo. Here was a way you could wipe yourself and family out with one prod of the throttle pedal, only they didn’t sell that many of them – thank God!

How did we manage years ago with a four door Cortina?


  1. My wife was made redundant at the end of 2012, just a she fell pregnant with Twins. oUt went the fast Golf, and in came an S-Max, or Smaxs as my non-petrol-head wife describes it. We do the Christmas Comintern between Chislehurst and KIrkby Malzeard regularly, and condone your thoughts on MPV drivers mostly. For myself, and don’t shoot me for saying this, I actually prefer the smacks to the Golf. One other point, and not wishing to pigeon hole any particular drivers, but you generally tell from behind those drivers that are going to be err, challenging. We always try to keep well clear of those wearing baseball cap’s, or iq reducers as my father calls them.

  2. Ahh you miserable old scrote! 😛

    It’s not just us MPV drivers you know, we all know those who drive vehicles with round badges from German marques don’t like anyone else using their express lane at any costs. Thankfully these days I no longer need to traipse around the country for christmas, most are local now, bar those we tend to visit at other times of the year.

    I’m with Robert above RE the Smacks, yes, it’s a 7 seat MPV, BUT it rides and handles like a normal Mondeo, and it goes well too, it’s leagues ahead of the Zafira, and if you want really sporty, go for the 2.5 turbo version, yes that lovely 5 pot Volvo lump, with the optional Eibach sport suspension that easily wipes the floor with the GSi Zaf. I don’t feel my life is over owning the Smacks, it’s a competent car, well screwed together, reliable (apart from no bloody spare wheel!) and it can be hustled along nicely. Not all MPVs are dull as ditchwater.

    Oh and I agree wholeheartedly about them bloody Addison Lee minicabs!

  3. Miserable? never! Old Scroat? …. possibly!

    Of course… not all MPV`s are dull as BBC3 or driven with all the style and precision of a cow on roller saktes, it was just my experience of traveling on that day. But I will lay on a challenge of leaving the SMAXs at home and trundle about in a typical car for a day or three…. let me know what you find and see!

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