A host of new-generation people movers are heading to South Africa this year, including the Toyota Verso and Renault Grand Scénic. Is the MPV market set for another growth spurt?

A host of new-generation people movers are heading to South Africa this year, including the Toyota Verso and Renault Grand Scénic. Is the MPV market set for another growth spurt?


Some consumers regard the plucky Toyota Condor too stylistically challenged or LCV-like in its origins, but the same cannot be said about the fully-imported Corolla-based Verso, which features a revolutionary new seating system called Easy Flat 7.


Easy Flat 7 allows all but the two front seats to fold down into the floor. In other words, the Verso can transport seven people with a little luggage, or two and just about everything they could bundle into the load bay - or any configuration in between.


Running on a 2 750-mm wheelbase, which is about 6 cm longer than the “standard” new Renault Scénic - the Verso features fresh styling, a raked roofline, revised front end (retaining the Corolla family look), an acoustic windscreen (the first such application in its segment), a knee airbag for the front passenger (taking the total of airbags to nine) and rebound front springs.


Initially, only a 1,8-litre petrol unit will be offered when the Verso is launched next month. A diesel model can be expected later when local fuel meets European standards on sulphur content. Transmissions are a five-speed manual and five-speed M-MT (multi-mode manual transmission with the choice of “auto” and sequential-shift modes).


Suspension is by MacPherson struts in front, with a torsion beam and coils at the rear. Brakes are discs modulated by ABS, with EBD and BAS, and stability and traction control are offered on top-line versions in Europe.


The battle of the 7-seaters will heat up further in September, when Renault plans to launch it Grand Scénic, the seventh vehicle to be based on the Mégane II platform, in South Africa.


Acclaimed for its driving comfort and stylish interior, the Grand Scénic has two more rear seats than its Scénic sibling by virtue of having a wheelbase that is 5 cm longer and rear overhang that has been increased by 18 cm.


The two individual rear seats fold into the floor in a single movement and access to the third row is achieved by swinging forward one of the side seats in the middle row. The Grand Scénic’s seats are all independently mounted and the middle row of seats can slide to give passengers in the back more legroom.


The French MPV offers 200 dm³ of luggage space in 7-seat configuration, but with the two rear seats folded flat, the sliding middle row allows luggage space from 550 to 650 dm³.


And with all the seats folded away or removed (in the case of the middle row), total utility space is 1 920 dm³, Renault claims. Also, by folding the front passenger seat’s backrest, objects of up to 2,75 metres in length can be accommodated.


Equipment levels and engines will be similar to those offered on the recently launched Scénic II. Grand Scénic will be priced to compete with Opel Zafira, the Verso, Volkswagen’s Golf-based MPV, Touran – which is also expected in South Africa in the year.

Original article from Car