100 hot new cars - part 2 - MPVs

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  • All the star cars coming in 2011-12
  • Exec cars to MPVs in part 2
  • Check back throughout the holiday period
Mazda 5 Diesel
What is it? Desirable diesel-powered version of Mazda’s latest MPV
Price from £20,195
On sale February 2011

Mazda has just launched the second generation of its 5 MPV with petrol engines only – a strange move in a market where buyers are so obsessed with diesels.

There isn’t long to wait until diesel power becomes available, though. Come February, you can have your 5 with a 113bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel. It’ll return an average of 54.3mpg and emit CO2 at a rate of 138g/km. With those figures, it has a slight edge on our current favourite MPV, the Peugeot 5008 HDi 110.

It doesn’t have the edge on practicality, sadly. While the Peugeot has seven independent seats, the 5’s middle bench just isn’t as clever. The two outer seats slide fore and aft independently, but the middle seat pops out from the base of one of the outer seats, and because it’s attached, it’s less versatile. The middle seat is also very narrow and uncomfortable, and you can’t fold all the seats down without taking the headrests out first.

The 5 is good to drive, though. The petrol models we’ve driven strike a good balance of comfort and control, and if the diesel engine is anything like the 1.8 petrol, it should be pretty quiet and smooth.

The diesel will be generously kitted out, too. The more basic TS2 version will get all the goodies you’ll ever need, including climate control, alloy wheels, four powered windows, cruise control, parking sensors, Bluetooth and automatic lights and wipers. Range-topping Sport models, meanwhile, have sporty styling, powered sliding doors and leather seats.

Vauxhall Zafira
What is it? The next generation of Vauxhall’s genre-defining MPV
Estimated price from £17,000
On sale 2012

Expect the next Vauxhall Zafira to be a vast improvement on the current car.

Vauxhall has taken note of the success enjoyed by rivals with seven independent seats, so the current car’s inflexible sliding middle bench will be ditched in favour of a more versatile arrangement. It’ll also look a lot smarter.

The new front end takes styling cues from the futuristic-looking Ampera, and down the sides you’ll notice the same ‘blade’ styling you get on the rest of Vauxhall’s latest models. The back end looks like a curvier version of the Meriva’s, too. Don’t expect to see that car’s rear-hinged rear doors on the Zafira, though – they’re not so beneficial on a car with three rows of seats.

Expect a vast array of engines. The small-capacity turbocharged petrol units from the Astra are likely to feature, as are a variety of diesels. These will include low-CO2 Ecoflex versions.

Vauxhall Meriva Ecoflex
What is it? Eco version of Vauxhall’s small MPV
Price from £17,570
On sale January 2011

Hot on the heels of the revised Corsa Ecoflex comes the most efficient version of Vauxhall’s small people-mover. It uses a version of the cleanest Corsa’s 94bhp 1.3-litre diesel engine, and although the Meriva’s CO2 figure can’t get close to the Corsa’s 95g/km, it’s still impressive for an MPV at 119g/km. It’ll also average a very handy 62.8mpg.

The Meriva doesn’t yet have a stop-start system, but Vauxhall will be rolling it out into other products over time. When it arrives in the Meriva, which will probably be late 2011, expect that CO2 figure to plummet.

Other than having to pay less in running costs, life with the Ecoflex is very much the same as it is with any other Meriva. It’s much the same to drive, and it has the same Flexspace seating layout and the same rear-hinged rear doors designed to give easier access to the cabin.

Kia Carens
What is it? Next generation of Kia’s forgotten MPV
Estimated price from £15,000
On sale Late 2012

With Kia's recent barrage of new models, the Carens MPV has been somewhat left behind, and it looks like that won’t change for a while yet.

Kia has said that a new version should arrive in the UK in either late 2012 or early 2013, and will have a totally new body and platform.

The firm also says that the next Carens will have a wider range of engines to the current model, including some that’ll be totally new to Kia.

What won’t change, though, is the choice of both five- and seven-seat layouts.

Chevrolet Orlando
What is it? Chevrolet’s first MPV in Europe
Estimated price from £18,000
On sale Spring 2011

Chevrolet is famous for many things, but producing MPVs isn’t one of them. That might change once the new Orlando arrives next year.

Designed to appeal to more image-conscious MPV buyers, the Orlando has chunky, crossover-like styling. Inside, there are clever storage points dotted all over the cabin, and there are seven seats that can be arranged in a number of ways. What’s more, the seats are arranged in three rows, each set higher than the one in front, so everyone gets a good view out.

There will be four trims available, and all come with stability control, six airbags and air-con as standard. Three engines will be available: a 1.8 petrol with 139bhp and a pair of 2.0-litre diesels with either 128bhp or 158bhp. The 1.8 we tested was gutless, but the more powerful diesel was much better, despite lots of wind noise.

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