Family friendly

Espace

THE first European MPV was the Renault Espace, with five individual rear seats - a pattern copied by many rivals.

But others found these do not fold easily or quickly and have opted for much better systems.

Every car maker now has its large people carrier, with seven or even eight seats and all manner of family friendly touches.

The Espace and Grand Espace - which is longer and gives more luggage space when all the seats are occupied - drive easily despite their bulk and take the corners safely and securely.

The latest series, which came out in 2003, is available with two litre and 3.5-litre petrol engines.

But although they are more expensive, the ones to go for are the diesels - a 1.9 with 120bhp, 2.2 with 150 or three-litre V6 with 180.

The 1.9 will even manage close to 40mpg with careful driving, which has to be amazing. Neither of the others can touch it.

Performance is fair to excellent and comfort marvellous in all.

Depending on model, standard equipment is good to excellent. All have aircon, six speed manual or five speed automatic gearbox, curtain airbags and CD player.

: Ford Galaxy, Peugeot 807

FAST FACTS

Price: Pay £4,800 for an '03 03-reg Authentique, or £9,200 for an '06 06-reg Dynamique.

Mechanical: 120bhp, 1,870cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving the front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 41

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 183g/km

Bik rating: 22%

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