Posts Tagged ‘seven seater’

Good day to you dear readers,

As some of my longer term readers may recall I posted back in November last year about our search for more family friendly transport and how it was time to grow up and move away from our very comfortable and seemingly practical but actually rather small Audi A4 Avant and hugely reliable and faithful Toyota Corolla.

Whilst it has been useful for us to have two cars whilst Mrs Bunny Chow has been on maternity leave the grim reality is that it’s hugely expensive and even with Mrs BC at home the second car was still only being used at most once or twice a week, so with the dreaded triumvirate of MOT/Annual services, Insurance and Road Tax renewals looming in the near future we renewed our search.

I spoke before about numerous options and whilst it was a fun idea trying to justify getting a 4×4 especially with snow on the ground outside we really couldn’t afford one of the big ones unless they were starting to get a bit old and a bit tatty and things like the Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4 and Landrover Freelander are just too small to meet our need to carry two children a dog and some detritus, not forgetting the odd friend or family member.

So with reality in check I began looking at our options, I already outlined that anything French or made by General Motors was off the shopping list because a man can only be pushed so far, but I was quite taken by some of the Korean offerings, at least on paper.

I went and looked at a Kia Sedona which is huge and very comfortable but it’s biggest failing is that the rearmost seats don’t fold flat and need to be removed and stored somewhere else when not in use or you need some boot-space. I have to admit that I also wasn’t overly enamoured with the perceived quality of the interior, I know that this is a practical decision but beige velour was perhaps taking things a mite too far.

I also looked at a couple of Hyundai Santa Fe’s which I liked a lot, they were still a little bit scratchy plastic on the inside but nothing I couldn’t live with, the reasons that they fell by the wayside though was that they were wide enough for three proper seats in the back but lacked those sixth and seventh seats and concerns over fuel economy/running costs of that unnecessary 4×4 system.

I also looked at and dismissed all of the VW Group options like the VW Sharan, Seat Alhambra and VW Touran based on expense and lack of boot-space with the sixth and seventh seats in place.

I hadn’t entirely dismissed the option of one of Ford’s S-MAX or Galaxy models but the local main dealer didn’t seem all that keen on winning our custom and most of the examples I found outside of their group and within budget were either private sales which would mean us having to sell the old cars ourselves which would mean going through the aforementioned expense of MOT’s, Servicing and a general scrub up. We also had the problem with the older models sharing the seating issue of the Kia Sedona in that the rearmost seats would need removal if not in use.

I then came across something called the Mazda5 which was smaller than the Kia and Ford Options but still gave us seven seats (admittedly only six for any longer journey) that fold flat into the floor, some boot space with all seven seats in place and very handy sliding rear doors. I didn’t know much about the Mazda5 but established that it was built on Ford’s global C1 platform which also includes things like the Ford Focus, Ford C-MAX and Ford Kuga, various Volvo’s and the Mazda 3.

This seemed like a good bet to me, I already liked the C-MAX but had dismissed it for the lack of a seven seat option and having really enjoyed all of the Focus’s I’ve driven over the years. I booked a test drive which conveniently was the morning after several inches of snowfall allowing me to test the car risk free in what was possibly the worst conditions it would ever have to face. The dealership is a local non franchise who’ve been around for over thirty years and even sold us our Audi.

They very bravely handed me the keys and sent me on my way onto a gritted main road which allowed me to give it a bootful and see if I could live with the performance deficit over my beloved Audi and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, the 2.0l Petrol engine, pushed me along in a perfectly acceptable and maybe even slightly thrilling manner, sure it’s not a sports car but it’s more than quick enough to cope with the conditions in which I do ninety percent of my driving and will even dismiss of members of the proletariat driving Micra’s and other hateful little supermini’s without complaint.

After picking up Mrs Bunny Chow and installing my progeny in the rearmost seats, we confirmed that you could indeed still fit three adults in the rear all be it with the middle seat being reserved strictly for shorter journeys, but it does also convert into a toy bin or table or away completely when not in use which is very handy in itself. The drivers compartment on this Furano Limited Edition Sport Model is well laid out with most of the toys you’d expect, climate control (single zone) an in dash 6 cd autochanger which will play mp3 cd’s and innumerable cup holders and cubby holes. The online reviews I have read suggest that the Mazda is behind its French competitors in this area but I certainly didn’t find it lacking.

Now loaded up we took the car over some of the area’s less well cleared roads and even ventured successfully into a completely untouched snow-covered car park and the car just continued on with minimal complaint. Yes in comparison to my Audi some of the plastics feel a little cheap, but it is several years newer and has half the mileage of my Audi. It also suits the family better and is a pretty good drive whilst managing not to look like it should be being driven by a gauloises smoking, taxi driving, axe murderer. In other words I was sold on the Mazda5.

Being the first example of its kind that I’d seen I held off on making an offer there and then and went to see a newer but base specification model at another local used car dealer but it was grey and without the sporty body kit or toys inside and to be honest it just seemed that although it was slightly lower mileage had had a tougher life than the first car. So with that in mind negotiations over trade in values for our old cars and some minor work we wanted done on the new car (the addition of rear parking sensors and new brakes all round) we came to a deal.

We should be able to pick it up and say goodbye to our trusty old cars on Saturday.

So there you go, you can get a dad car that isn’t a bus or over the top 4×4.


Mr Bunny Chow


G’day to you all dear readers,

as you know my last post was a bit of a rambler well this one has pulled in some material written in the same sessions but I thought would be more relevant as an individual post.

So anyway, since the arrival of boy number two I have come to realise that our purchase of a sensible family estate (station wagon) car (namely my beloved Audi) after the birth of our first son did not take into account that having a second child would render the backseat into little more than a repository for two car seats with a miniscule gap in between them and what once seemed a cavernous boot space is now almost entirely filled with the double buggy.

It also means that should we want to go anywhere with more than just the four core members of the family it means taking two cars. I know a lot of people would say that’s just tough for anyone else but our social life has been battered as it is by our little bundles of mayhem and disease. We love taking our friends like The Kiwi with us even if it’s just for some shopping and some lunch and this is now difficult.

There is also the problem when friends and family visit from overseas, we managed to insure my father on one of the cars while they were here but being from the other side of the world we fairly regularly have visitors, although whether they come to see us or the kids is debatable.

We also need to take into consideration that for most of the time there is no need for us to have two cars, certainly while Mrs Bunny Chow is working her car spends 99% of its time depreciating on the driveway whilst racking up the insurance, tax, evaporated fuel and maintenance/MOT bills for very little return in use.

Funny how the most manly thing you can do i.e. producing progeny can go such a long way to removing any vestige of testosterone you possess from changing nappies and singing nursery rhymes to having dull but practical cars.

I think this is where you can see the return to the title coming into this post, I have realised that in order to overcome these irritating dilemma’s that as soon as Mrs Bunny Chow returns to work from maternity leave both cars have to go and we will have to use them to fund something even more sensible and boring than a japanese hatchback and german estate. Whisper it horror of all horrors maybe even an MPV.

I’ve begun doing a little research into the matter and there are a huge number of 7 seaters on the market although I am able to disable most of them straight off the bat. As always there will be no French cars on my driveway so that rules out the Renault Espace and Citroen Mad Spaniard. I don’t even know or care if Peugeot make such a thing as I’m not buying one.

We can also rule out General Motors products so the Vauxhall Zafira is out as is any Chevrolet that might fit the 7 seat bill.

Toyota would normally be my first port of call for a sensible, reliable, well made, practical car but their local dealer are incredibly useless to the point where they tried to persuade us against test driving a car last time we visited as it was too expensive, despite not having asked our budget. Their parts department also couldn’t be bothered to reply to my requests for a rear windscreen wiper until I took some leave to visit them. I’d have gone elsewhere but no one makes a pattern part rear wiper for an 2002 Corolla. Besides, the Verso is heinous and I’m terrified of the running costs on the Land Cruiser which seem to be the only options on the regular UK market.

I’m intrigued by the Koreans and would appreciate the thoughts of anyone who has experience with either Hyundai or Kia, they don’t appear to be especially cheap but I believe their reliability is good now and their warranties are very attractive with a three-year old Kia potentially still having four years to run on theirs. Their newer 4×4’s are also rather handsome.

Mrs Bunny Chow has said a point-blank no to a Defender which to be honest with I’m not overly gutted by as it would be a pig to drive in traffic and painful on the motorway which is 99% of what I do anyway. The Discovery is attractive but expensive and there isn’t much boot with the rear seats in place, I also have concerns about their reliability and running costs.

Nissan make several handsome 7 seater 4×4’s that seem to fit the bill including the Pathfinder, Patrol and the ubiquitous cross over Qashqai+2, does anyone out there have any opinions on any of these options? I’ve heard both good and bad things about Nissan so am curious as to others experiences.

I’ve never liked the Mitsubishi Pajero or it’s derivatives for no particular rational reason other than that I think they are dull and ugly but still I am not going to look there, the Honda FRV is also dull and butt ugly so is out. Budgetary constraints also rule out any of the big three german offerings even though an older M-Class might work the thought of trying to run the thing and big repair bills should anything go wrong pretty much rule them out of the running.

Ford have a couple of offerings and I must confess that I am strangely drawn to the S-Max, which is based on the Mondeo platform just bloated. I’m very keen to test drive one. The Galaxy is another option as basically an even more stretched S-Max but they are available in lower trim levels so can be found cheaper than the S-Max, they are also more commonly fitted with an auto gearbox which appeals to me as mentioned before I spend 99% of my time on the road either in traffic or on the motorway. Yes a manual is more fun but only for those rare occasions that you can give it the beans and anyway if I’m going to emasculate myself I may as well do it properly.

I’m sure there are other options out there that I’ve not thought of, does anyone have any ideas for alternatives to look at or experience of any of the above mentioned cars?

I look forward to your mocking and jeering as well as any practical advice short of a vasectomy that you can give me.


Mr Bunny Chow