Despite the massive popularity of compact MPVs such as the Vauxhall Zafira, for some, only a full-size people carrier will do. With extra width, height and passenger space, most combine a minibus's practicality and the refinement of an executive estate. But with few differences between the top sellers, how do you choose which to buy?
Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot joined forces to launch a big people carrier in 2002, and the cars are called the C8, Ulysse and 807 respectively. All three are mechanically identical and the basic package is impressive. Engines are from Peugeot-Citroen, so the 2.0 and 2.2-litre turbodiesels are best. As the Fiat depreciates most, it's the biggest bargain. The Peugeot and Citroen hold their value better in the longer term, but choose carefully if you don't want to suffer at resale time.
These large cars don't feel too big behind the wheel, which is a bonus in town. Manoeuvrability and visibility are good, but the petrol units are not that efficient, and can struggle. The diesels are torquey, with the 2.2 being more refined. All gearchanges are very poor, sloppy and slack - and handling isn't the sharpest, although ride quality and refinement are great. Thanks to the space-age dashboard and multitude of standard kit, the interiors are excellent.
Peugeot's 807 is the pick of the bunch, but costs the most. Second is the Citroen, with its less desirable interior. As for the Fiat, volumes are pretty low and demand is at a reasonable level. The Ulysse offers the best value for money as a used buy, because its depreciation is greater than that of the other two makes. Luxury diesels are the most sought-after across all three ranges, and these command an ever-widening premium over their petrol counterparts.
Jeff Paterson, senior editor, Glass's Guide
The Ulysse is the perfect people carrier for my airport taxi business. It's cheap to lease and run, and has been perfectly reliable. I also find it very comfortable.
Raymond Rawlings, Uxbridge, Middlesex
I didn't really fancy having a Citroen, as I had always owned premium brands before. But, apart from a few plastics, the C8 feels like an upmarket machine. I am not keen on the gearshift, though.
Don Burke, Widnes, Cheshire
The Citroen, Peugeot and Fiat are essentially the same, but their differences are pronounced, particularly when the cars are driven back-to-back. However, they each have electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assistance, while the dashboard features an 'arch' that spans the base of the windscreen pillars. Underneath it sit a trio of centrally mounted instruments distinguished from the rest of the dials by a pastel green translucent 'glass'.