I'm a bit of practicality freak, which might be because I've spent much of the last 13 years on building projects.

When you are spending the weekend shuttling backwards and forwards to the tip, or carrying 2.4m long flatpacks from Ikea, there's one thing that transforms a car from useful to indispensible.

Vauxhall Meriva 1.4i Turbo first drive review

A fold-forward front passenger seat is one of the single most useful innovations of the last 20 years. Volvo - much to its credit - fits them to all of its cars. Other carmakers - including Saab and Vauxhall - have offered them as options on various models.

Although the long-term V70 T6 we ran a few years ago was not much of a driver's car, nothing could touch it for long-load carrying (unless it was a tall object).

I once managed to load in a very large and very tall Ebay-purchased fridge freezer cabinet. Even the bloke I bought it off couldn't believe we could squeeze it in.

So I was very disappointed to hear that the fold-forward seat option has been dropped on the new Meriva. Product managers say that the option had a 'very low take up'. Which is hardly a surprise, as few Volvo owners know that own cars are so equipped.

Stood in a B+Q car park, I once watched a chap with an S40 struggling to fit in packs of laminate flooring. I wandered up and pointed out that the front seat folded flat by pulling two small levers. He admitted that he'd owned the car for over seven years and never known.

A photographer once turned up at my house for a shoot. His Volvo 850 wagon was filled with long aluminium poles, wedged precariously between the front seats. Despite it being his second 850, he didn't know about the folding front seat, either. But he was pretty delighted when he did.

It seems to me that if the public knew more about this most useful of options, more of them would take it up. As it is, the new Meriva is not quite the ultimate load carrier it might otherwise have been.