REMEMBER when MPVs were all the rage and came in a variety of shapes and sizes?
The idea of a spacious and practical vehicle that could pack people and belongings in to great effect was a winning formula.
As the modern automotive market has evolved the MPV has arguably had its thunder stolen by the SUV, the current fashionable form for transporting people and lots of ‘stuff' when the need arises.
MPVs haven't gone away, but their character has altered somewhat.
There are certainly far fewer cavernous people carriers of the kind favoured by taxi drivers and large families.
The mid-sized variety have survived, albeit in smaller numbers, but so too have the van-based models.
These passenger versions of existing vans have the advantage of being spacious vehicles that can be created for a relatively low cost.
Space is obviously a huge selling point, though refinement might be lacking.
That said, if you're a family on a budget they represent an attractive proposition.
Given their popularity manufacturers have stuck with them and even made determined efforts to improve them.
The Citroen Berlingo is perhaps the best example of this, in that the latest version goes a long way towards offering a far more refined and car-like experience.
It was named MPV of the Year at the What Car? Car of the Year Awards, with the judges praising the third generation version Berlingo for its spaciousness, efficiency and passenger comfort.
It also won praise for its ride quality - a traditional shortcoming in a van-based MPV.
The choices for Berlingo buyers are relatively simple, though there are two distinct models - a standard M version and a long wheelbase XL.
The M body is 4.40m long while the XL at 4.75 adds 35cm. In car terms that's a lot and the big bonus is that the XL can transport seven people rather than five.
The XL looks dramatically bigger and though it feels larger stops short of being cumbersome when out on the road.
Manoeuvrability is perhaps more of an issue, though those big windows, sensors and a camera do a lot to help.
There are just two trim levels - Feel and Flair - and four engine options.
There's only one petrol - the 1.2 PureTech 108bhp three-cylinder unit. It's a capable enough performer and a decent choice if you definitely want to avoid diesel.
The diesel options are more extensive with 74bhp, 99bhp and 128bhp versions of PSA's 1.5-litre unit.
This was a top end Flair XL model with the highest powered diesel engine.
It also boasted a raft of creature comforts and tech, which meant this Berlingo felt as un van-like as one could possibly get.
A swish looking dash offers instant appeal fom a driver's perspective and the ease of operation in this automatic model - with the circular gear lever handily located on the dash - also made driving it a breeze.
The snazzy eight-inch touch screen infotainment, sat-nav and connectivity system, which can be linked to phones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, also adds a touch of luxury.
Other Flair trim level extras include rear parking sensors, electric rear windows, sat-nav and an electronic parking brake.
The Berlingo XL's cabin is genuinely huge - almost like a small minibus.
The huge front windscreen offers a great view of the road and there's an abundance of light throughout.
Ingenious storage solutions abound too, so much so that you might worry about putting something somewhere and forgetting where it was.
There's a nifty storage compartment in the dash in front of the driver and even a slide-out storage tray under the driver's seat.
The second row of seats is essentially a bench offering limited support thought the seats can be slid forward and back.
The rearmnost two seats can be folded away, though they don't fold flat so as they disappear from view.
Nonetheless there's the option to remove them entirely if need be, though the boot space is so big the likelihood is you probably won't need to.
If you do decide to use it to move house you can remove all the rear seats and essentially turn it into a van.
The best thing about the Berlingo's car-like character is the way it handles and its excellent ride quality.
Sure, you will experience a fair measure of pitch and roll when cornering at speed, but the comfort level is exceptional for a vehicle that has its roots in a van.
The power offered by the most potent diesel engine also enhances the overall driving experience.