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Top Gear's Top 9

Top Gear’s Top 9: minivans that are cooler than SUVs

Join us as we celebrate the car world's boxy heroes

Top Gear’s Top 9: minivans that are cooler than SUVs
  1. Hyundai Staria

    Hyundai Staria

    What, exactly, is going on in the Hyundai design office at the moment? The Ioniq 5 looks great, the Ioniq 6 is truly mad and beyond weird, and the Tucson is the most interesting looking SUV on sale today. 

    But it’s certainly not the coolest boxy Hyundai. No, that honour belongs to this: the Staria. Yes, it’s a minivan, but it’s as streamlined as a Japanese bullet train, as minimalist as a vegan’s lunch and has a certain Darth Vadar menace about it. 

    Sadly while it looks futuristic, the only Starias in Europe are diesel powered, and it’s not being offered for sale in the UK. Probably because in Britain, cool minivans are like salad options at the chip shop: often demanded, but rarely purchased. 

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  2. Ford Supervan

    Ford Supervan

    Ford’s mad takes on its workaday Transit through the years have included a GT40-based Mk1 and a Mk3 with a Group C racing engine in the middle. The latest version is all-electric, and the most powerful yet, with 2,000bhp on tap. Should help the postie speed up their round.

  3. Hyundai iMax N

    Hyundai iMax N

    A ‘drift van’ is an idea not even Hollywood dreamt up for the third instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise. So, Hyundai Australia went and did it instead, by taking an eight-seater van and chucking in a 402bhp 3.5-litre bi-turbo V6. It’s rear wheel drive, and set up to powerslide.

    Okay, so it’s a one-off. And it’s not actually road-legal any more. But we’re sure these trifling inconveniences could be worked around, if enough people declare they want one. Anyone? 

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  4. Ford Transit 'XJ220'

    Ford Transit 'XJ220'

    Another legend of the vans-that-are-better-than-4x4s scene is this: a humble Transit concealing the mid-engined 542bhp V6 powertrain from Jaguar’s Nineties supercar.

    See, Jaguar wanted to test their powertrain without risking XJ220 prototypes going up in smoke – or revealing the styling. So, Tom Walkinshaw Racing, who were developing the car, slotted the mighty engine into an unsuspecting transit. It lives on today, tuned up to 640bhp and wearing slick tyres on the rear axle. 

  5. Peugeot 806 Procar

    Peugeot 806 Procar

    Another minivan that proved it’s quick to be square was Kronos Racing’s slicked, stripped and slammed people-carrier. Conceived for the Class 2 Super Touring category at the 1995 Spa 24 Hours, the 280bhp Pug was a real fan favourite, but broke down and retired from the race long before the chequered flag.

    The other drivers must have been gutted – imagine slipstreaming this flying brick down the Kemmel Straight. 

  6. VW ID Buzz

    VW ID Buzz

    Fine, fine, here’s a cool van that you can actually buy. The all-electric Buzz is just so much less bolshy and threatening than an SUV. More space-efficient inside too. But with prices kicking off at not far south of £60,000, it’s hardly going to be a ‘people’s van’, is it? 

  7. Porsche Vision Renndienst

    Porsche Vision Renndienst

    Even Porsche can’t resist dabbling in some van haven now and again. This all-electric van concept was inspired by an old VW support van used by Porsche in the 1960s, hence the name, which translates as ‘racing service.’

    Sadly Porsche never intended to put the electro-van into production, but it’s interesting that the design team decided to dream this up, instead of just sketching mad supercars.

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  8. Renault Espace F1

    Renault Espace F1

    A Renault family van good for 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds. An Espace with a 789bhp 3.5-litre V10 where the middle of the second row of seats should be.

    Ah yes, this is another glorious chapter from the big book of overbudgeted PR stunts. To celebrate a decade of Espace production, Renault handed French carmaker Matra a big chest of francs and had them build a fully functional 13,800rpm, 193mph people-carrier. These days it lives out its retirement in the Matra museum, where confused children point at it and say ‘mummy, what’s a Renault Espace?’ 

  9. Lexus LM

    Lexus LM

    This is a normal production minivan. We’re not about to tell you that buried deep within it lies the shrieking V10 from a Lexus LFA, or the V8 from a Toyota Land Cruiser. The powertrain is unremarkable. So is the handling. This is not a van of improbable engineering. No, it’s here because, well, just LOOK at it. What a face! That’s got to be PG-13, maybe even a 15-certificate face. 

    Inside there’s reclining seats and a big telly, but the Lexus ‘Luxury Mover’ is surely the van with the most attitude since The A Team’s company car. 

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