Small, compact MPVs are becoming more and more popular, with families needing extra room and more versatility in a family car than a supermini can offer.
Since the Renault Scenic virtually invented the segment on its launch in 1997, the compact MPV has become a growing market in the UK.
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The rows of seats in compact MPVs can often be folded or removed to offer a range of seating configurations, and many smaller MPVS have a wide variety of storage solutions ranging from cubby holes to larger boot capacity.
Compact MPVS can offer a better and more stable drive than van-like larger MPV models, and they are becoming more environmentally-friendly with each release. Some small MPVS offer emissions as low as 130g/km - the EU target for all new cars by 2015.
The small MPV market is growing quickly, and more manufacturers are producing models on a consistent basis. These include the Ford C-Max, Vauxhall Meriva and Renault Modus.
We’ve picked out ten of the best smaller MPVs available this year. Compact MPVs are usually five-seat cars, often based on a supermini equivalent.
MotorTorque's top ten compact MPVs
Innovation is the key selling point of the Vauxhall Meriva, with its rear-hinged doors and excellent warranty options that, according to the manufacturer, 'could last a lifetime'.
The Meriva also incorporates Flex5 seats, allowing drivers to move their seats from side-to-side if necessary. The cabin's finish is also superior, and while the Meriva's boot is spacious, it doesn't match what's offered by the Ford C-Max.
However the Meriva lacks the bare essentials. Airbags and air-conditioning isn't available in the Expression entry-level model - they're only available in the more expensive 'Exclusiv' trim level. The Exclusiv and SE trims are quite pricey, but discounts are available.
The Vauxhall Meriva sits between the C-G tax bands. It's a good option for people that only need to carry four people (five's a bit of a squeeze).
• Vauxhall Meriva prices start from £12,500, and go up to £22,150.
• Read our Vauxhall Meriva review.
The Ford C-Max offers a lot more space than a conventional family car, and is one of the better handling MPVs in its class.
One of its most impressive features is its boot space - the Ford C-Max offers 471 litres, with 1,723 litres with the car's rear seats removed. It's also safer than a lot of its competitors, with electronic brakeforce distribution and a warning system to let you know if another car's in your blindspot.
Versatility can be a problem with the Ford C-Max. Though a lot of features are available for the C-Max (including an impressive choice of five engines), its reliability can be questioned at times - a telling point is that the MPV came a lowly 16th out of 27 manufacturers in the 2012 JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Despite that though, the Ford C-Max is one of the better small MPVs on the market. It's available from £17, 665 and sits between tax bands C-F. It's a spacious car and is a great option for families. Businesses can also take advantage of the 13% company car tax rating if they choose a 1.6 litre diesel engine.
• Prices for the Ford C-Max start from £17,665 and go up to £21,750.
• Read our Ford C-Max review to find out more.
The Kia Venga is small on the outside, big on the inside – the perfect ingredients for a compact MPV.
It can seat two adults and three children comfortably, although adults in the rear seats will struggle for room. There are plenty of seating configurations though and there remains plenty of room for storage.
Despite coming with Kia's seven-year/100,000 mile warranty, the Kia Venga isn't a cheap small MPV to run. Try and avoid the 89bhp 1.4 diesel engine as it doesn't offer the greatest economy, is noisy and isn't the most flexible piece of technology around. The 89bhp 1.4 petrol model offers a better drive.
However for a small MPV the Kia Venga has a pretty roomy, stylish interior. Its interior is comfortable, and every single Kia Venga is installed with stability control, front, rear, side and curtain airbags, and has a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
• Kia Venga prices start from £11,595 and go up to £16,780.
• Read our Kia Venga review to find out more.
The Ford B-Max is the new kid on the block, but it's already made a huge impression with the motoring public.
It's a small MPV that defies convention thanks to its rear sliding doors that make entering the car easier than ever before, creating a space of 1.5 meters - perfect for families with kids that constantly need to adjust car seats and more. The car's 1.0-litre petrol engine also packs a surprising punch on the road.
Entry level cars don't get much kit, though, and the car doesn't have a sixth gear, which doesn't suit the 1.6 diesel engine very well. Other than that the Ford B-Max is a great option for younger families, and is affordable to maintain.
The Ford B-Max sits between tax bands B-F, and has a five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety.
• Ford B-Max prices start from £12,995, going up to £18,895.
• Ford B-Max review pending!
The Honda Jazz is one of the more roomy models in its category, with its interior offering a huge amount of versatility and flexibility.
It's also practical with buyers able to choose an eco-friendly version, though Honda hasn't given the Jazz a diesel option. People will have to invest a lot of money into the eco-Jazz for such amazing practicality, though.
The Honda Jazz isn't too refined, with a lot of wind noise seeping into the cabin, especially when driving at speed on motorways. Still, its low emissions make it a winner on the tax front, with the Honda Jazz in bands B-D.
The Honda Jazz is available from £11,605, and isn't as attractive and well-designed as the Citroen C4 Picasso. However, it's much more practical than a lot of other models, especially for larger families and buyers that need to transport people on a regular basis.
• Prices for the Honda Jazz start from £11,605 and go up to £19,335.
• Read more about this small MPV in our Honda Jazz review.
The Peugeot 3008 is a very popular small MPV, due to its high level of quality that's gone into its design.
The interior is very spacious and comfortable, there's a lot of boot space, the car's been awarded five stars in Euro NCAP tests and it sits between tax bands A - H. It's easy to drive, and is often lauded as the ultimate practical family car.
It's not without its downsides, though. Instead of going for the entry-level 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, it'd be wise to invest in the 154bhp version for a bit more power.
Its entry-level equipment is also pretty weak - it's advised to go for Active trim. The Dynamic Roll Control option is a must, as 3008s without it is are tougher to handle.
The Peugeot 3008 is available from £17,195, is well refined and is a top-of-the-range small MPV.
• Prices for the Peugeot 3008 start from £17,195 and go up to £28,495.
• Read our Peugeot 3008 review to find out more.
The name suggests the Skoda Yeti is designed for rough, off-road terrain and it is first time Skoda has designed a 4x4. However, it is built on the same platform as the superb Volkswagen Golf, and as such, has all the handling, refinement and grip of the VW model.
The cabin and load space is huge – ideal for drivers with children – and the seating, as expected with an MPV, is spacious and versatile. The rear seats are foldable and removable, but they are heavy.
The Yeti is an excellent choice for families wanting an excellent drive, plenty of space and off-road capabilities all rolled into one. It is, however, a bit pricey.
• Prices for the Skoda Yeti start from £14,945 and go up to £23,790.
• Find out more by reading our Skoda Yeti review.
The Kia Soul has plenty of passenger space, and its petrol engine gives a pretty reliable performance for the price.
The Kia Soul has a number of strong points, including lots of safety kit (six airbags, for instance). One especially impressive feature is its electronic stability control, and a feature that helps keep control if one side of the car has less grip than the other.
The Kia Soul does have a tendency to judder over lumpy surfaces, though, and its handling can be a bit suspect at times.
The driving position can also be quite high for some, but it does have a great range of entry-level equipment such as steering wheel controls for its six-speaker stereo, air-conditioning, powered windows and remote locking.
The Kia Soul is available from £12,795, and lies in tax band D-F. Despite the petrol engine's impressive performance, it can be a costly car to own in the long-term.
It is available with Kia's fantastic seven-year/100,000 mile warranty, though.
• Kia Soul prices start from £12,795 and go up to £18,695.
• To learn more, read our Kia Soul review.
The Mini Countryman is the smallest of small MPVs, and is a great option for smaller families that want that distinct Mini style.
The Mini Countryman is practical in nature, but sadly isn't as fun to drive as its cousins - both in the Mini range and small MPV class. On the other hand it does have reasonable load-carrying abilities and a choice between two impressive 1.6 diesel engines.
Standard equipment on the Countryman is generous, and includes DAB radio, USB inputs, air conditioning, rear-parking sensors and much more.
Unfortunately it's not too refined on the road, suffering from a lot of wind noise at speed. Its five-star Euro NCAP rating is well-deserved, thanks to six airbags as standard, and tyre pressure monitoring systems.
The Mini Countryman is available from £16,510, though higher-spec versions are much more expensive for such a small car.
• Prices for the Mini Countryman start from £16,510 and go up to £26,900.
• To find out more, read our Mini Countryman review.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a supermini-sized car with the space of an MPV and the luxury of a much larger car. It represents the top end of luxury and quality in the segment – for a premium.
It comes with a huge range of engines and the drive is stable and smooth. There is very little body roll and steering is precise. It is also very well equipped and has a vast array of safety equipment.
The A-Class is roomy inside despite its compact-looking exterior, and is very well built. It has a great amount of attention to detail, in that it has a versatile, spacious interior that makes it great for city-living. It's a very attractive car, with affordable running costs - it can lie anywhere between tax band A - G depending on the model.
The A-Class's diesel engine gives a lot of oomph, with the car giving great fuel economy overall. The interior, as you'd expect from a Mercedes, is incredibly comfortable, though the drive itself can feel a touch too firm at times.
It is shorter than a Ford Fiesta and the compact dimensions make the A-Class excellent for city driving (and parking). There is also the added bonus of driving away with a brand new Mercedes for less than £15,000.
• Mercedes A-Class prices start from £16,050 and go up to £19,920.
• Read our Mercedes-Benz A-Class review to find out more.
The best of the rest
Citroen C4 Picasso
The Citroen C4 Picasso is a real winner on the road, thanks to the excellent visibility it provides the driver in its huge cabin. It's an excellent family car and well-designed, complemented good looks with practicality. Despite its price tag nestling at the higher end of 10k, big discounts are available - the right one makes it a potential bargain.
The Nissan Note can be a mixed bag. It looks gorgeous and is a fantastically economical car to own. However its cabin can be classed as narrow-at-best, meaning it can be something of a tight squeeze to comfortably seat five people.
The Ford Fusion is one of the older models in the small MPV category, based on the Ford Fiesta - in fact if people don't need the extra room then a Fiesta would be a fantastic option instead. Its age is starting to show thanks to its weak engine and poor reliability, and it's also surprisingly expensive compared to the Kia Venga and Vauxhall Meriva.
Its petrol engine may be a bit noisy, and the boot may not be the most spacious, but the Suzuki SX4 comes with a generous amount of equipment as standard. Entry-level SX4 models are fitted with remote locking, four electric windows, CD-player controls mounted on the steering wheel and more. What's more, the SX4 is cheap to maintain despite resting in tax band E/F.
The Skoda Roomster is defined by its quirky design, underlined visually by its large behind. That all adds to an airy, spacious cabin, though, which makes the Skoda Roomster an adequate family run-around. With it being affordable to buy and inexpensive to maintain, the Roomster is a good option for families that want a secure small MPV that handles well on the road.
Hyundai ix20 diesel
Hyundai's ix20 small MPV is best known for its economical engines - the 1.4-litre petrol the star of the show. The diesel option is the other extreme of the scale though, which is very noisy and badly underperforms. The drive itself is reasonable, but the ix20 does score points for having six airbags and stability control as standard.
If people want something with an impressive boot then the Mecedes-Benz B-Class is a great option for families that want something more useful than a standard small MPV. As is usually standard in a Mercedes, the B-Class is made from classy materials - something which is reflected in the car's price. It may not be the fastest, but its engines are economical and give a smooth ride.
It's difficult to put your finger on the Verso. On one hand the front row is roomy, and there's a great amount of boot space in five-seat mode. However, it still somehow manages to feel cramped on the inside, with cramped rear seats. It's reliable, sturdy and an OK drive, but it suffers greatly from wind noise thanks to poor refinement.
Volkswagen Golf Plus
Buyers are able to choose from five engines for the Volkswagen Golf Plus, which is essentially a larger version of the manufacturer's popular model. It's related more to the Mk5 than the Mk6 though, but offers more room and easier access. It's more expensive than a Golf, but its practical and versatile nature makes it a good investment for families.
The Vauxhall Agila is easily the most affordable small MPV around - its price is even more astonishing thanks to its lifetime warranty. For the low price though concessions have been made at entry-level, where standard equipment is virtually non-existent.
If you're looking for something smaller, then have a look at MotorTorque's top ten best small cars.