After much careful thought I have come to the decision that I loathe children. I can’t bear their incessant runny noses, their screeching voices, and their blaming attitude whereby if they fall over they think it’s your fault. I also struggle to understand how so many mothers and fathers are able to love something that resembles Ronnie Corbett in a nappy.
Perhaps loathe is not strong enough; I abhor children. I am plagued by them every Saturday in my job as a shelf-stacker (or, as I like to call it, ‘Display Replenishment Executive’) at a branch of that superior supermarket chain and I am responsible for ensuring that the beautifully presented toiletries aisle remains beautifully presented. Shoppers of this superior supermarket chain will no doubt be aware that ‘baby food’ and ‘baby care’ form part of the toiletries aisle as well, so my progress in executively replenishing the displays are hampered by bulging MacLarens with rampant Ronnies onboard. And while their mothers’s backs are turned these hoards of children snatch the toothbrushes, trample on my fingers and force feed me with Senokot tablets. I’m not joking; if you want a demonstration of Lord of the Flies – pop down my aisle.
One other reason why I abhor children is what they do to your body. I’m not a woman so I will never be able to fully understand this but, for a man, having children means that you have to give up your mildly sporty car and replace it with that bastion of daddy-ness; the MPV. Apart from owning a Perodua, the multi-purpose vehicle is the most depressing and horrid moment in a man’s life. By driving around in your seven-seat Kia Sedona, you are telling the world that you have done your reproductive duty and produced five little darlings for the next generation. You are telling all the drivers around you that you cannot have a sporty car because you have put your children first and yourself second. By owning an MPV you relinquish that manly prerogative to have a fast car. In essence, you give up being a man and become a father.
Unless I am intimately injured by a child down my aisle in the not too distant future, I will have to produce children at one point in my life. Naturally, them being half mine and half my wife’s, I will think my children to be God’s gift to the world. When they are stabbing a shop-worker to death I will laugh and pass it off with remarks like ‘Oh, but aren’t they lovely’, and ‘They’re just being friendly.’ And despite me saying now that I will never own an MPV and my children will have to be squashed in the back of a convertible Jaguar XKR, I will inevitably be finding myself choosing what MPV I am going to have so my children are safe on the school run. It doesn’t matter what I do, it will happen.
Looking at the current crop of mid-sized MPVs, avoid the once-good Renault Scenic for that has been replaced by a car that looks like a Debenhams-own brand iron. Instead, have a look at the Citroen C4 Picasso or the new Vauxhall Meriva which is due out soon. ‘I have five children’ I hear you moan, follow me to the newly facelifted Ford S-Max; an incredible car that puts forward a creditable case for a sporty MPV. ‘Even more space’, you say? May I suggest you giving your children up for adoption or going to Asda?
But if you only have one or two children, and you want just a little more room from a car that still has the same dimensions as a normal car, it would seem that the new Citroen Nemo Multispace is ideal. On the surface the Nemo is nothing more than a van with windows, but its rear bench seat is adaptable and comfortable for your children and their knives. It is surprisingly spacious considering it is not much longer than a Citroen C2 and, for an MPV, it’s strangely cute and looks like a happy dolphin. However, in 1.4 diesel trim, the Nemo Multispace is woefully slow as it is fitted with a flappy-paddle gearbox which jolts the Nemo to a 0-60mph time of 17.8 seconds. No worries, packed to the gunnels with your Ronnie Corbetts and their golfing jumpers, you will however get to your destination this side of October.
Hey, what does it matter? I’m a man in a car that looks like a dolphin, my wonderful children are safe, and m’Nemo has a sporty edge to it with its Formula 1-style gearbox. Ermmm…I’m sorry to report that the Citroen Nemo Multispace is not safe. Far from it.
In the infamous ‘Elk test’ carried out by ADAC (the German equivalent of the AA) and Which? magazine, the Nemo Multispace failed the test catastrophically. The test involves driving at a set of cones at 56 mph and then swerving past them. It is intended to replicate swerving for another car or an animal, and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class famously failed the test by almost rolling over back in 1998. Unlike the Mercedes however, the Citroen Nemo didn’t almost roll over; it did roll over.
And don’t think the identical Peugeot Bipper Teepee or Fiat Quebo are any better either. Like the Nemo, the Bipper Teepee (I mean, who comes up with these names?) failed, and the Qubo only passed the test because it was fitted with ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) which is a £310 option and only available on the diesel models. Citroen and Peugeot intend to remedy the situation, but that won’t happen until – at the earliest – the Autumn.
So, my advice to all those dads out there is to spend a thousand pounds more and buy the Nemo’s bigger brother, the Berlingo Multispace, which is safer. Or don’t have children.
Citroen Nemo Multispace
On the radio:Diana Ross ‘Upside Down’
Batchelor rating: 3/10
Batchelor says: Don’t swerve to avoid anything; just plough on.
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