Compact MPV

Last updated

Renault Megane Scenic I Phase I.JPG
Renault Scénic I (1996-2003)
2015 Citroen C4 Picasso (B7 MY15) Exclusive e-THP wagon (2015-06-15) 01.jpg
Citroën C4 Picasso II (2013-present)

Compact MPV (an abbreviation for Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle ) is a vehicle size class for the middle size of MPVs. The Compact MPV size class sits between the mini MPV and large MPV (minivan) size classes.


Compact MPVs remain predominantly a European phenomenon, although they are also built and sold in many Latin American and Asian markets. As of 2016, the only compact MPV sold widely in the United States was the Ford C-Max.


Fiat Multipla with flexible 3+3 seating Multipla3.JPG
Fiat Multipla with flexible 3+3 seating

The flexibility of the interior seating is a common theme amongst compact MPVs. Many models have seats that can be individually folded or easily removed, and the upright seating positions maximises use of the interior space. The seating arrangement is usually either two rows (for a total of five seats) or three rows (for a total of seven seats), with the second row having three seats and the other row(s) having two seats.

Some compact MPVs also three seats in both the front and rear rows, and are therefore referred to as six-seaters.

Where a third row of seats is present, the seats are often smaller and intended for children or short distance travel only. In some cars, these seats can only carry a limited weight (less than an adult's weight). The third row of seating is usually optional, and is not available on all models of compact MPVs.

Most compact MPVs do not have sliding doors as compared to the large-sized Multi-purpose vehicle.


Predecessors to the compact MPV segment are the 1977 AMC Concept 80 AM Van, the 1978 Lancia Megagamma and the 1982 Lada X-1 concept cars. [1] [2] [3]

Early production models of compact MPVs include, the 1982 Nissan Prairie and the 1991 Mitsubishi RVR (marketed as "Space Runner" in Europe and "Expo LRV" in the United States). [4] [5] Others include the "well-reviewed but slow-selling" 1984-1987 Honda Civic Wagon and the 1982-1988 Tercel Wagon. [6] The Nissan Axxess had limited space behind its the second row seats, but featured rear sliding doors on both sides making it like a minivan that was "shrunk in the dryer." [7] . The Mazda 5 from 2005 to 2015. Although not classified at the time as MPVs, but variously described as space-efficient small people movers, functional high station wagons, or small vans. [6] Examples of models - that consumers in the U.S. seemed to avoid because of "resistance to obvious utility" - include the "mini-minivan" 3-door hatchback wagons with a sliding side door on only the passenger side that were marketed as the Eagle Summit Wagon, Mitsubishi Expo, and Plymouth Colt Vista. [6] [8]

Some claim that the 1996 Renault Scénic is credited with creating the compact MPV segment. [9]

The 1999 Opel/Vauxhall/Chevrolet Zafira was the first compact MPV with seven seats.[ citation needed ]


The five highest selling compact MPVs in Europe in 2018 were the Renault Scenic, Volkswagen Touran, Citroën C4 Picasso, BMW 2 Series Active Tourer / Gran Tourer and Mercedes-Benz B-Class. [10]

Related Research Articles

Minivan Type of van designed for personal use

Minivan is a North American car classification for vehicles designed to transport passengers in the rear seating row(s), with reconfigurable seats in two or three rows. The equivalent classification in Europe is the M-segment, more commonly known as an MPV or a people carrier / mover. Minivans often have a 'one-box' or 'two-box' body configuration, a higher roof, a flat floor, a sliding door for rear passengers, and high H-point seating.

Van Covered transportation vehicle

A van is a type of road vehicle used for transporting goods or people. Depending on the type of van, it can be bigger or smaller than a truck and SUV, and bigger than a common car. There is some varying in the scope of the word across the different English-speaking countries. The smallest vans, microvans, are used for transporting either goods or people in tiny quantities. Mini MPVs, compact MPVs, and MPVs are all small vans usually used for transporting people in small quantities. Larger vans with passenger seats are used for institutional purposes, such as transporting students. Larger vans with only front seats are often used for business purposes, to carry goods and equipment. Specially-equipped vans are used by television stations as mobile studios. Postal services and courier companies use large step vans to deliver packages.

Hatchback car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area

A hatchback is a car body configuration with a rear door that swings upward to provide access to a cargo area. Hatchbacks may feature fold-down second row seating, where the interior can be reconfigured to prioritize passenger or cargo volume. Hatchbacks may feature two- or three-box design.

Governments and private organizations have developed car classification schemes that are used for various purposes including regulation, description, and categorization of cars.

Compact car Cars that are larger than a subcompact car but smaller than a mid-size car

Compact car is a vehicle size class — predominantly used in North America — that sits between subcompact cars and mid-size cars. The present-day definition is equivalent to the European C-segment or the British term "small family car". However, prior to the downsizing of the United States car industry in the 1970s and 1980s, larger vehicles with wheelbases up to 110 in (2.79 m) were considered "compact cars" in the United States.

Renault Espace Motor vehicle

The Renault Espace is a large luxury crossover MPV vehicle manufactured by Renault for five generations. The first three generations of the Espace were amongst the first contemporary minivans or MPVs, and were manufactured by Matra for Renault. The fourth generation, also an MPV, was manufactured by Renault. The Renault Grand Espace is a long wheelbase (LWB) version with increased rear leg room and boot size. The fifth generation is introduced with a crossover SUV-inspired styling while keeping the space-oriented MPV body style. Renault described the fifth generation Espace as a 'crossover-style MPV' which combines elements of saloon, SUV and MPV, while retaining interior space and practicality of the latter.

Mazda MPV A minivan manufactured by Mazda

The Mazda MPV is a minivan manufactured by Mazda. Introduced in 1988 as a rear-wheel-drive model with optional selectable four-wheel drive, this was replaced in 1999 with a front-wheel-drive version with optional all-wheel-drive in some markets. Over one million MPV models have been produced since its introduction.

Eagle Summit Motor vehicle

The Eagle Summit is a subcompact car that was produced by Mitsubishi and sold by Eagle from 1989 to 1996. It was sold as a captive import by the Jeep-Eagle sales division that was created after Chrysler Corporation purchased American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1987.

Mercury Villager Motor vehicle

The Mercury Villager is a minivan that was marketed by the Mercury division of Ford. The first minivan ever sold by Mercury, two generations were sold from the 1993 to 2002 model years. Competing against the Chrysler minivans and the General Motors APV minivans, the front-wheel drive Villager was introduced between the Ford Aerostar and the Ford Windstar.

Crossover (automobile)

A crossover, crossover SUV, or crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is a type of sport utility vehicle-like vehicle built with unibody frame construction. Crossovers are often based on a platform shared with a passenger car, as opposed to a platform shared with a pickup truck. Because of that, crossovers may also be referred as "car-based SUVs". Compared to truck-based SUVs, they typically have better interior comfort, a more comfortable ride, superior fuel economy, and lower manufacturing costs, but also inferior off-road and towing capability. Forerunners of the modern crossover include the 1977 Matra Rancho and the AMC Eagle introduced in 1979.

Nissan Prairie Motor vehicle

The Nissan Prairie is a mini MPV/compact MPV manufactured and marketed by Nissan from 1981 to 2004. It was also marketed as the Multi in Canada and the Stanza Wagon in the United States. In Japan, it was exclusive to Nissan Bluebird Store locations, then later at Nissan Blue Stage sales channels. The Prairie had a very flexible seating capability and sliding rear doors on both sides of the vehicle, with a liftgate in the back. The name "prairie" was derived from French which means an extensive area of relatively flat grassland, similar to "steppe" or "savanna".

Mitsubishi Chariot Motor vehicle

The Mitsubishi Chariot is a small multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) manufactured and marketed by Mitsubishi from 1983 to 2003. Based on the SSW concept car first exhibited at the 23rd Tokyo Motor Show in 1979, the MPV derives its nameplate from chariots used by the ancient Greek and Roman Empires.

Nissan Quest Motor vehicle

The Nissan Quest is a minivan that was marketed by Nissan from the 1993 to 2017 model years. The first Nissan minivan developed specifically for North American sale, the Quest replaced the Nissan Vanette and Nissan Axxess in the United States and Canada. Competing against the Chrysler minivans, the Quest was the first Japanese-brand minivan manufactured in the United States, leading to the later Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

Eagle Medallion Car model produced Renault and marketed by American Motors Corporation

The Eagle Medallion, also marketed as the Renault Medallion, was a rebadged and mildly re-engineered North American version of the French Renault 21 marketed by American Motors Corporation under the Renault brand for the 1988 model year, and by Chrysler’s Jeep/Eagle division for the 1989 model year.

Mini MPV

Mini MPV— an abbreviation for mini multi-purpose vehicle— is a vehicle size class for the smallest size of minivans/MPVs. The mini MPV size class sits below the compact MPV size class and the vehicles are often built on the platforms of B-segment hatchback models. By the European definition, the mini MPV commonly consists of cars with two rows of seats, while in Asia mini MPVs with three rows are common. Sliding doors are sometimes also fitted to mini MPVs. Mini MPV are also called tall-hatchback or small MPV.

Mitsubishi RVR Motor vehicle

The Mitsubishi RVR is a range of cars produced by Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors from 1991 to 2002 and then from 2010 until present. The first two generations were classified as compact multi-purpose vehicles (MPV), and the model introduced in 2010 is a subcompact crossover SUV.


A microvan is a van or minivan that fits into Japanese kei car classification or similar, and is smaller than a mini MPV.

Sliding door (car)

A sliding door is a type of door is mounted on or suspended from a track for the door to slide, usually horizontally and outside. It is a feature predominately relegated to minibuses and buses to provide a large entrance or exit for passengers without obstructing the adjacent pathway between the vehicle and any adjoining object or the side(s) of passenger and commercial vans so as to allow a larger unobstructed access to the interior for loading and unloading.

Mazda Premacy Motor vehicle

The Mazda Premacy is a compact MPV that was built by the Japanese manufacturer Mazda from 1999.

Renault Triber Motor vehicle

The Renault Triber is a three-row compact MPV produced by the French car manufacturer Renault through its Indian subsidiary Renault India. It was introduced in India on 19 June 2019 and went on sale in August 2019.


  1. Ernst, Kurt (2 July 2014). "AMC's Concept 80 AM Van to go on display at Kenosha History Center". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  2. "CAP Online: The cars of Giorgio Giugiaro". Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  3. "Sovjetunionens hemliga projekt – bortglömt idag". (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  4. "Nissan Prairie (1982 - 1988)". Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  5. "Mitsubishi Space Wagon & Space Runner (1991 - 1999) used car review". Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  6. 1 2 3 Appel, Tom (18 September 2017). "Forgotten Functionality: Recalling the 1994 Eagle Summit Wagon, Mitsubishi Expo, and Plymouth Colt Vista". The Daily Drive by 'Consumer Guide'. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  7. Ramey, Jay (2 April 2020). "Remember the Nissan Axxess? Here's why this minivan was offered for just one year". Autoweek. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  8. Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (18 June 2007). "How Eagle Cars Work". Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  9. "Group 7: Compact MPVs". Auto Express. 15 February 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  10. "European sales 2018 midsized MPV segment". 14 February 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.