For much of the last 13 years, I’ve been hauling stuff. Much of it was related to the huge amount of building and renovation work I’ve carried out, completely re-building and re-working a flat and two houses. I like to think I’ve become a connoisseur of what makes a good all-round load carrier.
Any car with a fold-flat front seat is on my list. I remember shifting a load of extremely heavy wooden worktops down the M40 in a long-term loan Volvo V70 thanks to the fold-flat front seat. Ikea’s longest flat pack is about 2.3m long and a tumbling seat is the only way to carry it inside the car.
I also have good memories of the original Citroen C5 hatchback which, while I loaded it with rubble bags filled with broken plaster, self-levelled its suspension even though the engine was off. Best of the lot was probably the original Mercedes A-Class which had the option of removable seats (including the front seat) and a flat floor. Even though it was shorter than a Mini Metro, it could swallow a door whole.
But one of the problems with a conventional estate-style car is the low roof-line. Carrying flatpacks is all very well, but accommodating bulk is a problem. I once bought a leather armchair off eBay and couldn’t get it into the back of the V70 and had to borrow a Freelander from the Autocar car park. But the problem with SUVs is their relative short load bay.