With all that extra metal tacked on the back, the MPW extends the already chunky-looking 500L's profile, and despite retaining some of the 500 hatch's cutesy styling, this is still very obviously a big car - big enough to dwarf our example's 17in alloys (the largest rim size available).
As in the 500L, the seating position is commanding and there's an excellent field of vision. The seats are soft but supportive with height adjustment for the driver, and although there is some hard plastic to be found (and some sharp edges in less-frequented areas like the boot cubbies), most surfaces - including the Lounge model's attractive ‘ecoleather’ dash inserts - are pleasantly tactile, nicely finished and accurately fitted.
As you'd expect there's plenty of interior flexibility - the second row of seats (splitting 60:40) can slide backwards and forwards, fold down and tip forwards, the front passenger seat folds down to help accommodate loads of up to 2600mm in length, and the rearmost two seat-backs fold flat to form a sturdy boot floor, flush with the boot lip. A big front central cubby is missing, but there are other thoughtful touches like picnic tables behind the front seats.
With the rearmost seats empty, there's plenty of headroom and legroom in the middle row, although any central passenger will struggle for shoulder space. Realistically, the sixth and seventh seats should be reserved for kids, and their employment forces a six-footer in the middle row to splay his knees. It also reduces load space to a measly 168 litres, but that’s still more than the Berlingo’s 100 litres. MPWs without the extra two seats offer up to 638 litres with the rear pews up and a maximum of 1708 litres when they’re folded.
The 1.6-litre four-pot is reluctant to pull from below 2000rpm, and then there's a little lag followed by gentle progress to 4000rpm, when the twist peters out. Over the same stretch, the engine goes from grumble to rough growl to strained yelp, yet never delivers palpable harshness to the cabin and is hushed when cruising. With a full complement of passengers on board and weight nearing 1850kg, even this torquiest of launch engines would struggle to achieve sprightliness. The gearbox suits the engine nicely, though, with a smooth action that likes gentle changes.
Although front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam remain, the MPW's suspension has been revised for its workhorse remit with the help of frequency-dependent shock absorbers that are designed to contain roll and dive while remaining loose over rough surfaces. They work to an extent, in that body control is decent for an MPV and smaller imperfections are parried nicely, but bigger scars and ridges leave you in no doubt the ride is on the firm side, while the tyres can grumble over nuggety roads.
The electric steering is reasonably direct, and the super-light city mode will be welcomed by some urban users. It's an effective solution that shouldn't reasonably be expected to offer anything more.