I test-drove this vehicle yesterday and was very impressed with the power and flexibility of the engine, combined with the road handling. Having owned a top-specification Citroen Xsara Picasso for five years, this car really was a step up in class.
We are considering the T180 as a purchase which ticks all the boxes for a family, apart from the rear luggage space, which is the only reason we are still deliberating. The boot is quite a bit smaller than the Picasso and as we like our regular holidays, to France and the south-west, we are not sure this will cope.
We are researching the roof box option before committing.
As well as being practical for a young family, the following was important to me: - Reliability reports should be good. And 'mechanicals should cause no problem' summaries are not good enough; modern cars have a lot of electronics in them. - All-round airbags; ESP; and details of the 5-star safety report should be good (Is the VW Touran's a solid 5-stars?) - No second row bench seat. - Not too wide a car; I'm not living in the USA.
My short-list was the Mazda 5 Sport Diesel and a Toyota Verso T3 D-4D.
In the end, the Mazda 5's middle second row seat put me off. Too narrow for most adults, and young children requiring a child seat. It would have been nice to see a driver's knee airbag in the spec also. A real shame, because the sliding doors are great.
The Verso T3 has a lot I don't need. I wish the T2 spec had ESP. However, although it is a small MPV, I found I could move the seats forward in the second row to extend the boot or make room for an adult in the third row. So it was more practical than an Estate. I like the 3 equal-sized seats in the second row. Safety-wise, I like the dual-stage front airbags (as opposed to the single-stage airbags in the Mazda 5), and the driver's knee airbag. I didn't find the Verso's A-pillar to be too big. Its always a compromise - but I would recommend others to take a look at the Verso.
We used to own a Previa but thought it was a bit big for daily use even though very nice for holidays. The Verso is actually great for both - lots of space when the rear seats are down. And it drives like a small car and is very economical.
The multimode gearbox takes a few days to get used to but now my change overs are very smooth - the trick is to learn when the car changes so that you ease off the accelerator just before and avoid the lunge.
It also has a great equipment levels and the safety equipment is unbeatable. It really is the perfect family car.
I purchased my Verso 1.8 VVT-i Spirit MMT on an 04 plate one month ago. The car has travelled 15,000 miles and is in very good condition.
I have owned a Toyota Previa for six years and a Toyota RAV4 for seven years which I have been very pleased with, both having automatic gearboxes. On paper and on external appearance, the Verso met my needs for space and comfort.
However, the MMT gearbox is proving difficult to live with. It is not an automatic, but a manual with motors doing the gearchange for you. There are three modes - E (easy), ES (easy sports) and Manual. In E and ES mode, the car changes gears upredictably and it is not smooth like an automatic. A different technique is required which I am slowly getting used to.
However, when in town and regular gear changes are needed, it can be annoying. I tend to switch to manual mode, which is like tiptronic - you select the gear without pressing a clutch pedal. The gearbox automatically changes down as you slow down. I am told that MMT gearboxes are a new innovation which all cars will be adopting in the future. I am not so sure that will be so.
On the motorway, there is a loud engine booming sound from 65-70mph. However this appears to disappear at over 70mph. It feels like it needs another gear or a bigger engine.
Overall, the car is beautifully made and spacious. Unless you pay over £30,000, some compromises must be expected. Insurance rating 8 and good fuel economy for such a large car soften the blow.
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