So not only is it beautiful but it is practical as well. So why can’t most MPVs be like that? The Chrysler Grand Voyager has had a fancier grille and new Crossfire-copying lights as part of a subtle makeover but apart from that, it still looks like a big, blobby minibus.
Like many MPVs, excepting the Renault Espace and Mitsubishi Grandis, it has conceded a lot of aesthetic ground to the necessities of people carrying and is still rather bland on the outside. But it’s what is on the inside that counts with MPVs, isn’t it? Increasingly, though, clever packing in other segments is undermining the essential point of these behemoths.
In the cabin, very little has changed from the old model with some pretty cheap-looking materials and switchgear still about, but under the bonnet is where Chrysler believes it has got a surefire hit.
In the UK, more than 60% of Voyagers are sold with a diesel engine, in the form of the 2.5 CRD. By installing a 149bhp 2.8-litre CRD DaimlerChrysler engine, the firm reckons it will have an engine even more suited to the needs of European motorists.
It also comes fitted with an automatic gearbox for the first time, but it’s only four speed, so don’t expect fireworks as the accelerator is pushed to the floor, although the new engine, with 150bhp and 265lb-ft of torque, means the car is slightly faster to 60mph than the 2.5 manual was, at 12 seconds.
The new auto box works well. It is not silky smooth, but the shifts occur snappily and there is not much slurring. While running, the Grand Voyager is claimed to be quieter than the old model and although it’s hardly whispery quiet, a few lively kids in the back should soon drown that out.
The big issues with this new engine, though, are the emission levels and fuel consumption, which for a company car driver will put it in the 34% benefit-in-kind tax band, with a very average combined figure of 28.9mpg, which we struggled to get near while it was on test with us. Load the car up a bit and there is very little chance of hitting that mark at all.
But such is the price to be paid for these big people-carriers and must go some way to explaining the popularity of the smaller, lighter and therefore more efficient mini-MPVs.
A 40% taxpayer would pay £326 a month in BIK to run the Grand Voyager and around that for all the other large MPVs, while a top-of-the-range seven-seat 120bhp diesel mini MPV like the Grand Scenic, which is nearly £10,000 cheaper, would cost £122 a month.
It might be manual and in certain situations the larger car might be the only choice, but it would not take an accountant to work out which is the better financial choice or a lifestyle guru to decide which would suit most people’s day-to-day business.
But for the small band of people who need a big old bus of a thing, the Grand Voyager certainly does have a lot of space, with three rows of seats in a two-two-three configuration, although getting the three-seat bench out is a sweaty procedure involving a lot of brawn and a fair amount of brain.
As with all Grand Voyagers, the Limited version comes well-specced, with electric leather seats (electric in the front), six-CD player, darkened glass from the B-pillar, curtain airbags all the way back, power sliding doors and load levelling suspension. It also comes with two years/ 24,000-mile free servicing for labour, parts and lubrication. Ultimately, the Grand Voyager is short of the benchmark in quality for the segment, the Renault Espace. The size and high price of running it would have to be weighed up against the packaging and cost strength of the seven-seat section of the mini-MPV market.
Model: Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD
Engine (cc): 2,776
Max power (bhp/rpm): 150/3,800
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 265/2,100
Max speed (mph): 112
0-62mph (sec): 12.0
Comb fuel consumption (mpg): 28.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): 225
Transmission: 4sp auto
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 75/16.5
Service interval (miles): 12,000
Price (OTR): £28,990