Car rental large MPV - 7 seater class rental vehicles Ford S-Max, Ford Galaxy, Renault Espace and VW Sharan/Seat Alhambra
Amongst the most popular family carriers in the car hire ’7-seater class’ is the large full-size MPV with room for a large family with holiday luggage.
This type of vehicle is particularly popular at destinations such as Costa del Sol (Malaga Airport & Murcia Airport), Costa Blanca (Alicante Airport), The Canary Islands, Nice Airport and the busy Italian airports of Rome and Milan.
For 6 or 7 people, and especially if the children are grown teenager or for a group of adults, the full size MPV 7 seater, also frequently referred to as a minivan, is by far the most comfortable rental vehicle. This type of rental car for up to 7 passengers including driver feels like a normal passenger car on the road albeit a slightly higher driving position.
VW Sharan MPV hire car © Photo: Find-Cheap-Car-Hire.co.uk
Quite frequently, MPV rental cars are well equipped and often come with sliding door (or sliding doors) improving accessibility and limiting the space needed for parking.
Compared with a minibus, the modern MPV offers a much more comfortable ride and usually an exclusive interior with climate control and other high level comfort details. Parking is much easier with the MPV, long distance comfort is superior and in general most people will feel more at home driving the MPV compared to a minibus, the latter of which is often built on the basis of a commercial van chassis.
In 2013-2014, the most popular car in the 6-pax/7-pax MPV rental range is the VW Sharan - which in some car hire destinations might come as the sister model Seat Alhambra. The Sharan will take up to 375 litres of luggage with all 7 seats in use. You will hardly be able to find a more spacious 7-seater MPV for rental than that.
Renault introduced the MPV - as nobody else would put it into production
In the beginning of the 1980s, the French Renault cooperation made an unexpected move, which turned out to be one of its most significant and quite profitable decisions.
Renault was approached by the small design and racing specialist Matra, whose engineers had come up with a revolutionary design for a spacious, combined executive and family car. Prior to that Matra had approach Chrysler Europa, who was willing to take on the idea.
As it happened, in 1978, Chrysler Europe including Chrysler UK was quite unexpectedly bought by Citroen-Peugeot (PSA), and the large newly formed cooperation did not have any particular interest in the "strange" project from Matra.
So Matra got its drawings back from Citroen with a "thanks, but no thanks".
The sensible thing for the ever so often cash strapped Matra was to immediately offer the MPV concept to the competition - and that is how Renault ended up with what was to be a brilliant new type of vehicle suited to win a large number of customers for many years to come.
Original MPV Renault Espace 1984 meets Renault Espace MPV 2013 model (Phase IV)
The Eurovan - Peugeot 807, Citroen C8, Fiat Ulysse, Lancia Phedra
With more than 10 years delay, in 1994, Citroen and Peugeot tried to capture part of the MPV market with the introduction of the Citroen Evasion and Peugeot 806 (sister models produced in cooperation with Fiat/Lancia).
With some success the PSA continued in the market with the ’twins’ Citroen C8 and Peugeot 807, but despite keen prices, these spacious 7-seater MPV cars with sliding door in one side were never as successful as the original Renault Espace.
Below the Renault Espace, facelift Phase III 2010 edition - some find Phase III prettier than the latest Phase IV. A new Renault Espace large MPV with SUV inspired lines and ’added luxury’ is expected in the autumn of 2014.
Renault Espace, facelift Phase III 2010 edition.
Large family rental cars with comfort - cheap MVP rental
The large MPV cars are popular, but sold in relative modest numbers in Europe and in the UK. As development costs are high, model changes take place less frequently than with normal passenger cars.
How often a new model is introduced is to a large extent depending on development costs and as the modern full size MPV cars are quite advanced with an abundance of technically advanced solutions, the car producers tend to stick with a particular model for a good number of years - up to sometimes 8 or 10 years of production is common for MPV vehicles.
Furthermore, the large MPV cars are often so expensive to put together, that the manufacturers see an advantage in pooling their efforts and costs of development and production together with other car producers to minimize costs. A good example is the VW Sharan (2010-forward) which is the exact same vehicle as the Seat Alhambra with very minor differences in details. The Sharan is the most common to find as a rental car - and since the cars stay in the rental fleets for a good number of years - as opposed to lesser cars - it is sometimes possible to find cheap MPV rental in the full size class.
New Renault Espace - rental car (MPV-minivan)
The legendary Renault Espace of which model 2013 facelift Phase IV can be seen above, is more than 10 years old and up for a major revamp.
Renault has announced that the next generation Renault Espace 2014 will be a totally different vehicle and even more advanced and luxurious than previous models. There are still many Renault Espace rental cars to be found all over Europe (and especially in French speaking countries).
Most car rental companies, however, are buying other makes in the large MPV class of rental vehicles until a new Renault Espace is on the market - that is of course unless Renault offers substantial discounts on the 2013 model, which is known to happen at the end of a car models lease of life. By late 2013, most Renault Espace hire cars will be from production year 2008-2013, all of which largely is the same kind of vehicle anyway.
Ford Galaxy - large family hire car with superior space
After the Volkswagen Sharan, in second place on the cheap MPV rental priority list comes the ever so popular Ford Galaxy and its sporty and slightly less spacy, but massively successful 7-seater sidekick: the Ford S-Max.
The Ford Galaxy is one of the most spacious cars in the full size MPV class for hire; and with quite a bit of luggage space too. The S-Max also has ample room for 7 adults and will swallow up to 285 litres of luggage with all 7 seats in use. As for the Ford Galaxy MPV, a quite impressive 308 litres of luggage space is available when using all 7 seats.
The current (2013-2014) Ford Galaxy/Ford S-Max line-up was introduced in 2006 and is due for replacement. Most likely, Ford MPV production will be moved to Valencia in Spain for the new 2015 model.
Ford Galaxy (2006-forward) with top of the range Ghia equipment © Photo: Find-Cheap-Car-Hire.co.uk
In fact, the first generation Galaxy MPV was a co-production with Volkswagen at the VW Autoeuropa factory in Palmela south of Lisbon. The VW-Ford cooperation lasted from 1995 to 2005 and was successful in terms of MPV vehicles sold.
The virtually identical Ford Galaxy, VW Sharan and Seat Alhambra (1995-2005) were at the time, however, ridden with problems, which only came under control at the end of the life of the model.
The quality issues were largely solved by 2005, but Ford chose anyway to move to Genk in Belgium with its new Ford Galaxy/Ford S-Max production line. VW continued in Portugal and in 2010 launched the new Sharan/Alhambra model (2010-forward) which quality wise is on par or even better than the S-Max/Galaxy MPV cars.
Ford S-Max car rental - large sporty MPV without sliding door
Ford S-Max is almost as common as the Ford Galaxy, when booking a large MPV rental car in say Malaga, Nice, Rome, Milan or in The Canaries.
Ford S-Max is a genuine 7-seater (seat fold flat option) and in reality, the S-Max is basically the same car as the Ford Galaxy MPV family car, but with a lower roof line and a visually ’lightened’ design making the S-Max quite a looker - for a family carrier that is. Neither Ford Galaxy nor Ford S-Max MPV cars (model 2006-2014) have sliding doors. This feature is expected in the new 2015 Ford MPV model.
Ford S-Max and Ford Galaxy both were produced in Genk; the S-Max being substantially cheaper than the Galaxy in most markets. For rental purposes, the rates are mostly the same.
The Ford S-Max won the title of European Car of the Year 2007.
Ford S-Max facelift model (2010-forward) © Photo: Find-Cheap-Car-Hire.co.uk
Almost all MPV rental cars of the models Ford Galaxy, Ford S-Max, VW Sharan, Seat Alhambra and Renault Espace are equipped with diesel engine.
What is a minivan? - compare minivan with MPV type of rental car
The term ’Minivan’ originates from The States.
Already in the 1970s, a number of vans with 15 or 17 seats were offered in America by the large manufacturers; most of them being converted commercial vans, hence the name van or passenger van.
It is still possible to hire passenger vans for 15 or 17 people on a normal driver’s license in some states and the vehicle type also is found in Canada.
When the Dodge Caravan was introduced by Chrysler in 1984 together with the sister model Plymouth Voyager, the ’minivan’ was born due to the fact that in the US, both the Voyager and the Dodge Caravan was seen as rather small compared to the real passenger van.
In European eyes, a minivan is not a particularly small car, and often (but not always) in fact physically bigger than a full size ’large’ MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle).