Currently reading: James Ruppert: 'vans with windows' combine practicality and price
MPVs may not carry much street cred any more, but they won't break the bank either

There is a colossal amount of snobbery when it comes to certain models, as you probably know. Apparently, you are an idiot if you choose an SUV or if you want one of those van-derived things from France. SUVs might be objectively daft, but subjectively they are slightly practical, if average to drive. But even more useful than an SUV is one of those car-cum-vans with windows, into which you can fit a fridge, should you ever need to.

That’s where I’m coming from today. A fridge isn’t that heavy but it is a tad bulky and easy to dent. What you need, then, is a long, flat, carpeted load bay. As I faffed about with my vehicles and a tape measure, an old dear turned up in a Citroen Berlingo with a giant ice box she had loaded into the back. They’re just brilliant and don’t cost a lot to run: that’s old people, although the same applies to Berlingos.

With £7995 to spend, you can get yourself a 2016 three-previous-owner Berlingo 1.6 BlueHDi Feel Multispace. It will have less than 25,000 miles on the clock and will deliver a strong 60mpg all day long. There are also some ultra-low-mileage 2019 ones at main dealers. These are worth a look because they are all petrols – for example, a 1.2 Pure Tech Flair with 500 miles for £16,995. Just over 40mpg, but you won’t be restricted in terms of where you can go. Spiritually, though, £1000 buys a tidy early-2000s 1.9d Forte model with four previous owners. That really caught my eye.

Obviously, other car-derived vans are available, but I did find myself looking at the Ford B-Max. This is actually more of a handily sized MPV than a scaled-down Transit Connect, but you can pick up a 2017 1.0-litre Ecoboost Zetec Navigator with less than 40,000 miles for just £8795.

9 Ford b max

Rather than get distracted by a 2019 BMW 218i Active Tourer M Sport automatic at £19,700, which is far too much to spend on a Bavarian van, what else is there? An imported 81,000-mile 2007 Mitsubishi Chariot 2.4 GDi automatic for £2000 could be interesting, and with Mitsubishi checking out of the UK soon-ish, it couldn’t be more exclusive.

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Then there is the Seat Altea, which isn’t huge, but a Category N 2007 1.9 TDI Reference with a full service history is yours for £1200.

Anyway, as well as vans with windows, fridge-friendly vehicles are also going to be estate shaped. These are vehicles that, you might presume, you would be daft to buy these days. That’s because the estate car is supposed to be quite dead, except that the used car market is absolutely chock full of them. With that in mind, I think it will be worth spelling out in a forthcoming week just what Volvos you should buy…

Tales from Ruppert's garage

8 Mini cooper

Mini Cooper, mileage - 103,502: I am keeping on top of things with the Cooper. After last year’s fun and games with the head gasket, I now check the water quite often. A lifetime with Minis and related A-series engines means that I always watch the temperature gauge closely. The good news about having had all the piping changed is that I will never have to change the bottom hose again in my lifetime. I think. It is all running well enough, starts quickly, gets up to running temp and pulls strongly, keeping up with the moderns. It just needs a check-over and I must book it in for an MOT. Might do a service involving my newly acquired ramps.

Reader's ride

7 Jaguar xj

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Jaguar XJ: This is not strictly a reader’s as much as a mate’s ride, but I thought you would appreciate it. It’s a Jaguar Sovereign that previously plied its trade in the wedding hire business. Hence, the truly awful pink paintwork.

It is a 3.2-litre XJ and, according to my mate, it is supremely comfortable to drive and ride in. I won’t reveal what he paid for it because it was more than I would have paid. Never mind. These are magnificent old buses and it is worth getting one before they all get retired.

Readers' questions

6 Convertible

Question: I’m tempted to get a convertible, my first drop-top. Given all this dry weather, it seems a good time to do so. My question is: should you leave it parked with the top down to air it out on a hot day? Malcolm Henry, via email

Answer: No. Not only are you inviting passers-by to use it as a waste bin, but some unscrupulous types might try looking through your glovebox, even if it has a lock on it. Best keep everything closed for safety and then run the air-con for a short period when you get in it to cool things down. MA

5 Battery

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Question: I’ve come to depend on my car more post-lockdown and noticed it takes a while to start. Is there any way to find out if it is a battery issue before I take it to a garage? Ben Fowely, via email

Answer: You can put the interior or headlights on while starting and, if they dim a lot, then you’ve got a strong indication that there isn’t enough juice in the battery. However, a more comprehensive test is to get hold of a hand-held tool that will be able to tell you the cold cranking amps capacity of the battery. If it comes up being lower than what’s stated on the battery, it’ll need replacing. MA


Citroen Berlingo review 

New Citroen Berlingo Multispace gets SUV influence, extended variant 

Steve Cropley: My Berlingo is beloved, but it's no Bentley

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harf 25 August 2020

And now it works


harf 25 August 2020

Autocar spam filter, B-max

I tried to put in B-max correctly but a single hyphen is sufficient to flag up an outlawed embedded link it seems

harf 25 August 2020

Unheralded Fiesta B max

Oh dear. As someone who contributes to body engineering vehicle development, I really feel for those who design brilliantly engineered vehicles that, instead of receiving the adulation deserved, hit the market at a bad time and through not fault of their own fade all too soon into obscurity.

The B Max is a prime example. Removing the B pillar should have been a brilliant engineering solution that made it so much easier to hop out and access the rear seats, but this was no SUV and it hit the market as the MPV was on the wane.

Perhaps it was also guilty of being a tad too small, but then any larger and the absence of a B post probably wouldn't have been feasible.

Outstanding body engineering, lousy timing.