At first glance, it`s difficult to believe that the second generation Space Wagon can actually seat seven, it looks so much smaller than the competition. Mitsubishi squeezed in that extra row of seats by raising the roofline and adopting a more upright seating layout.
If that doesn`t sound very comfortable, you might be surprised at how much you like it in practice. For most journeys, you`ll probably want to keep the rearmost seats folded down (giving you a huge boot); they're easy to raise when circumstances demand.
The specification is comprehensive, even if you don`t buy a Diamond Option Pack version with electric sunroof, roof rails and a luggage cover. The clever touches please - like the useful drinks holders and the tray under the front passenger seat.
In latest third generation form, the Space Wagon trumps its predecessor with an even more versatile interior and an advanced 2.4-litre GDi petrol engine that's powerful yet so economical that it does away with the need for a diesel.
Both GL and GLX models offer a seven-seat layout in three rows, the second row a bench for three. Alternatively, the plushest GLS has two separate middle seats giving six-seat capacity and a walk-through centre aisle, thanks to the column-mounted gear lever.
Whichever configuration you choose, both the bench and the individual seats offer 180mm of adjustment to suit the needs of the long-legged wherever you happen to put them. Though you can't remove the middle row completely, you can fold it flat (to create a table) or forward (to maximise cargo space if you need a van). The two third-row seats can be removed, creating up to 1,930 litres of luggage space. Alternatively, they too can be folded forward.
Everything you need is in there, including a central black and white LCD screen for time, temperature, fuel consumption and stereo. Find a Space Wagon with the optional satellite navigation and it displays route directions, too. Twin front airbags are standard and GLS customers get side airbags. Only the GL does without anti-lock brakes.
You need a full service history on these, as maintenance can be expensive and parts pricey. Check for school run knocks and signs of family abuse in the interior. Otherwise, build quality is good and the engines will go round the clock with care.
(approx based on a 1996 2.0GLS - ex Vat) A clutch assembly is around £300 and an exhaust system about £400. Front and rear brake pads will be in the vicinity of £35 a set.
A radiator is about £200, an alternator about £130, a starter motor £130, and a replacement headlamp about £100.
'Car-like' is a phrase Mitsubishi like to emphasise when referring to the Space Wagon. In contrast to the bulky crew bus approach of most of the competition, it requires far less familiarisation time for drivers unused to such vehicles. However, you still get the lofty driving position that improves visibility so much.
The Mitsubishi's easy to manoeuvre; at the wheel of an Espace or a Previa, you feel a little like you`re piloting a bus, particularly in tight supermarket carparks. In contrast, the Space Wagon is no longer than, say, a Ford Focus Estate - and feels it.
You should like the willing response of the sixteen valve engines fitted to most generation Wagons. And performance? Well, rest to sixty takes around 10 seconds on the way to a maximum of up to 115mph and you should get up to 38 miles per gallon.
In summary, if your objective is to move people as comfortably and as economically as possible, you can`t afford to leave a Space Wagon off your shopping list.