Published on March 2nd, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
The Disappearance Of The Compact MPV
Once a best seller, the compact MPV has disappeared from our motoring landscape.
Remember the popularity of any kind of Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), or people carrier from the late 1980’s to the 1990’s? In the 1980’s when it first arrived it was the dream of many families to own one and in the next 10-15 years it was the must have vehicle for any family, big or small. Plenty of space (when compared to a sedan), good all round visibility and sitting on a car platform (earlier models), it had decent handling.
So what happened to the Honda Freed, Toyota Wish, Honda Stream, Volkswagen Touran and Mazda Biante in Malaysia?.
It seems that today in Malaysia only the Nissan Serena is keeping families happy with a single compact MPV choice in Malaysia (yes the Proton Exora is still on sale but this is a 10 plus year old product). The Toyota Wish was a used import best seller together with the early model Honda Stream in the late 1990’s thru to 2015 or so for a few years and till today you do see families as well as single adults loving them.
More recently, UMW Toyota introduced the Sienta compact MPV in August 2016 and it was priced well, sold well, had a reliable engine and gearbox despite having some consumers having little interest in the design. Then in 2019 the Sienta was retired due to slowing sales despite seeing many of its owners loving its space utility, power sliding doors, comfortable seating for 7 without pinching and easy city driving dynamics.
Then from 2010 onwards mid sized MPV’s felt the sales pinch. The Ford S-Max, Volkswagen Sharan, BMW 2 Series Grand Tourer and Citroen Picasso arrived with great features, safety kit, innovative seating and space but Malaysians were not so keen because their brand new selling prices were higher than a used Toyota Alphard or Vellfire luxury MPV from Japan. Malaysians on a budget also went for a brand new Hyundai Starex which had a bold nose and seating for the whole family and some.
Then from 2012-2013 or so, the trend started changing and consumers wanted crossovers and SUV’s with 7 row seats and a high riding stance despite having less room inside the cabin for family members.
As families moved towards owning a 7-seat SUV, the demand for the compact MPV dwindled. So, the Peugeot 5008, Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9 and now the CX-8 started a strong sales trend. Then came the Perodua Aruz and Toyota RUSH, both compact 7 seater Crossovers and taking the Malaysian market with strength with impressive high sales.
However, it took only a few weeks with these compact Crossovers for owners with large families to realize that the Crossover or Compact SUV 7 seater did not offer the space, legroom and comfort like a MPV. But it was too late. The purchase was done, the loan documents signed and they had to live with their purchase for the next 5-7 years. It is not all negative, just that the sleeker looking Crossover or SUV seemed more exciting over a frumpy looking compact MPV.
We predict that in the coming 7-8 years the compact MPV will make a comeback and Malaysians will once again realize its family friendly benefits as we have till today (we still have our 17-year old compact 7 seat Japanese MPV in our garage and it continues to serve us in more ways than you can imagine.
Japanese brands still have many compact MPV’s (like this 2020 Honda Freed) in their lineup and they offer great interior space and drive feel and we wait for their arrival.