Sebastian Renz, Heinrich Lingner Zoom

Opinion: Pros & Cons: Bus or SUV

It seems as though large MPVs have their best days behind them - customers would rather buy an SUV. A positive trend? There are two schools of thought.

Sebastian Renz gets his butt out of harm's way

Sometimes you wonder how it must look. In this case, what people were thinking as they drove past that VW Touareg test car on a wet and rainy afternoon, with a bottom protruding from each of its back doors. Mine to the left and my wife's to the right. We were in the process of strapping in two of our three children in back. During this process, rain drips into my waistband I pondered how lifestyle-compatible such an SUV presumably seems to other people.

It was clear to me that I actually need an MPV again, or even better, a bus. With the V-Class or Multivan you pull open the sliding door, climb in and the door rattles back into the lock. And as the rain pounds down on the roof, you can buckle in the children in the dry, and then climb between the front seats to the steering wheel. And you don't need a family to appreciate buses. As a student I had a total of five VW T3s in varying states of disrepair. The best was a 1987 Caravelle C.

I managed to pay the huge tax on the 56 HP 1.7-litre naturally aspirated diesel by taking on removal jobs for fellow students. You would barely believe how generous parents are when they no longer have to cart their grown-up children's junk around themselves. I later travels around Europe in the T3 for three months, from Edinburgh to Seville, taking half the house and , now and again, new friends with me. I haven't had another car since in which I have experienced so much. And therein lies the difference: SUV drivers always like to talk about the possibilities that their car opens up to them. Those with a bus aren't perhaps as trendy on the road. But they don't have to talk about the possibilities. They can live them.

Heinrich Lingner prefers to drive off-road

Actually, I have nothing against MPVs and minibuses; problem-free handling, sufficient seating and a large transport volume are ultimately properties that are no cause for objection. Really. But secretly I am of the view that under no circumstances should you choose everyday objects that are important to you solely on the basis of their secondary virtues. What I mean to say is this: even if I required a lot of space in a car and appreciated a high hip position due to my age, I would never have an MPV. With two exceptions: the Renault Avantime and Lancia Phedra. Because not only are they four-wheeled shoe boxes with as efficient an engine as possible, they are also cool. This is something that almost all other MPVs are lacking.

SUVs are now available in all price classes, from the Dacia Duster to the soon to arrive Bentley Bentayga. What I like about them is not so much the added utility value, but rather that little touch of irrationality that most of them have managed to retain. The touch of outdoor romanticism in the design of a Skoda Yeti or Range Rover Evoque tells me that i am not yet completely lost in my regulated, hemmed in world. My car could get me through the Atacama Desert or the Weser Mountain Region.

Of course i know that won't happen, not the Atacama in any case. But nonetheless i would rather be wearing a Schöffel jacket than a Burberry overcoat, and my shoes are a little more hardwearing than they really need to be for the trip from the underground car park to my office. And what of it? If it were to forego all of this, then i could actually drive a car that is nothing more than a self-driven transport box with the charm and indulgence of the family compartment on the Intercity train.


Hans-Dieter Seufert


16 July 2015
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