SOME people movers offer all the practicality required from such a vehicle but sadly fall short of the mark when it comes to performance and handling.
The Volkswagen Sharan manages to mix both qualities very nicely.
And the result is a seven seater that looks smart, is deceptively agile, reasonably economical to run yet features all the flexibility and practicality required from a multi-purpose vehicle.
Powered by an efficient 2.0-litre 184ps diesel engine, the Sharan looks quite athletic considering its large dimensions.
It features an upright stance, sweeping headlight clusters, 17-inch alloys, chrome roof rails, a gloss black radiator grille, panoramic sunroof, tinted rear widows and sliding rear doors which opened and closed electrically as a £630 option.
The interior is huge with three individual seats in the second row and a further two back seats. With flexibility in mind the seats can be folded flat and the wide boot door makes loading bulky or awkwardly-shaped items that much easier.
In fact the storage capacity of the Sharan ranges from just 300 litres with all the seats in an upright position to a whopping 2,297 litres with just the front two seats in use.
In addition there are cup holders, deep door pockets, a central bin, a useful glovebox and trays in the back of the front seats for storing away extra bits and bobs.
The range-topping SEL trim supplied for the week's test was generously equipped and featured sat nav, a rear view camera, keyless entry, 3Zone climate control and all the connectivity functions that we demand these days.
Priced at £37,955 (£42,830 with options) the Sharan could reach from 0-62mph in a creditable 8.9 seconds, topped out at 132mph and according to official figures can deliver combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg with carbon emissions of 141g/km.
Comfort levels within the vehicle are high and the upright seating position means the driver is treated to excellent all-round visibility.
Although the Sharan is not the liveliest of performers it is beautifully composed on the open road where it accelerates smoothly through the six-speed automatic gearbox.
The road-holding is assured and although there is a little body roll if pushed into bends too enthusiastically, it did feel very composed and confident. The steering is precise and rather pleasingly there is very little road, wind or engine noise filtering through to the cabin.
In more congested areas, the Sharan was easy to manoeuvre and the rear view camera and parking sensors helped make light work of any parking issues. That said, the sensors are very sensitive and the option to turn them off was quite welcome at times to escape the frequent beeping sounds.
The vehicle also features a comprehensive list of safety systems, including anti-lock brakes with hydraulic brake assist, electronic stability control, driver alert, automatic post collision braking, numerous airbags and plenty more besides.