What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - MPV contenders

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  • 16 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2010 revealed
Best buy less than £15,000
Citroën C3 Picasso 1.6 VTi VTR+
List price £13,941
Target Price £13,472

Thanks to the excellent Grand C4 Picasso, we know Citroën has a knack for building great MPVs. It’s renowned for its quirky designs, too, and both disciplines come together superbly in the C3 Picasso.

Is there a funkier-looking MPV around? We can’t think of one, and the C3 Picasso combines this with top-notch value and practicality. Great MPVs start with a great cabin, and the C3 Picasso’s is one of the best you’ll find. Thanks to slim front pillars and a windscreen that stretches back into the roof, it’s incredibly light and airy, and visibility is excellent – the kids have a great view out and parking is an absolute cinch.

The interior looks as cool as the exterior, but practicality doesn’t take a back seat. As well as loads of space all round, there are lots of handy storage areas, and the cabin’s built to withstand family life. The boot is a good size, while it’s easy to slide or fold the rear seats when you have larger loads.

Opt for the 1.6 VTR+ model and you get a smooth, refined petrol engine that’s the perfect complement to the C3 Picasso’s supple ride and responsive handling. You also get a decent standard of kit, including air-conditioning and six airbags.

At this price, the C3 Picasso has few real rivals, but the new Kia Venga is similarly practical and almost as classy, if not quite as good to drive, or as desirable.

Citroen C3 performance
0-62mph 13.9 seconds Top speed 117mph
Running costs
Economy 40.9mpg CO2 159g/km Insurance group 13



What the testers thought...
The C3 Picasso has turned out to be a bit of a mould-breaker for Citroën. It looks cool, it’s spacious and it’s the best car to drive in the company’s line-up. Peter.Tullin@whatcar.com

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Best buy £15,000–£20,000
Peugeot 5008 1.6 HDi 110 Active
List price £18,794
Target Price £18,794

There's a new winner here, although its success is thanks in no small part to the car it replaces in this category. The Peugeot 5008 is our latest favourite, but it’s closely related to the previous champ, the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso. Both share the same seating system and most of the same mechanicals, including their 1.6-litre diesel engine.

Obviously, choosing between them was difficult, but the Peugeot gets our vote. Why? For a start, it’s better to drive. That’s not hugely important in an MPV, but the 5008 is less roly-poly through corners and has more feel through the steering wheel, so it’s more assured on demanding roads and more fun if you haven’t got the kids on board. The suspension is a bit firm, but superior body control stops the little ’uns in the back being tossed around so much.

We prefer the 5008’s interior, too. It doesn’t have the Citroën’s huge windscreen, nor does it have the same walk-through space between the front and middle-row seats. Still, its classier and more stylish dash provide plenty of compensation.

There’s nothing in it for practicality – both have the same seven-seat system, which allows you to swap effortlessly between plentiful passenger or load space, or a decent amount of both. Prices for these cars are similar, but our money just goes on the 5008.

Peugeot 5008 performance
0-62mph 12.9 seconds Top speed 114mph
Running costs
Economy 53.3mpg CO2 142g/km Insurance group tbc



What the testers thought...
More powerful models have a system that pumps up the outside rear shock absorber to reduce body roll, but even without this the 5008 is quite composed. Iain.Reid@whatcar.com

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Best buy more than £20,000
Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec
List price £24,363
Target Price £21,651

Despite a series of hefty price rises over the past 12 months, the Ford S-Max is still well worthy of a place here, and massive discounts are available at the showroom, so you can end up with an awful lot of car for your money.

Size isn’t everything, but the S-Max’s generous dimensions really help to take the strain out of family life. There are three full-size middle-row seats, two usable ones behind them and lots of space up front. Fold down the two rear seats, and there’s a huge boot that’ll swallow pushchairs and kids’ paraphernalia by the truckload. Push the centre row of seats into the floor and you’re left with a space that’s not far short of a Transit van’s.

The key to the S-Max’s appeal is that it blends this level of practicality with such a sporty, fun character. The driving position and dashboard make you feel like you’re in something other than an MPV, and the sharp handling and steering add to the illusion.

Good refinement and a strong diesel engine add to a rewarding driving experience.
The S-Max’s main rival at this price is the Ford Galaxy, which is a more conventional large MPV, with a raised driving position and extra space in the rear-most seats.

Generous discounts mean the Galaxy doesn’t cost much more, but for us the S-Max’s extra verve makes it a better bet.

Ford S-Max performance
0-60mph 9.7 seconds Top speed 122mph
Running costs
Economy 47.1mpg CO2 159g/km Insurance group 19



What the testers thought...
With a third child on the way, my sister needs a big MPV. This Ford is at the top of her list – she rented one on holiday and loved its space, practicality and driveability. Leo.Wilkinson@whatcar.com

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