mover of big FAMILies

GETTING his family together can be no easy task for President Jacob Zuma.

GETTING his family together can be no easy task for President Jacob Zuma.

With three wives, three mother-in-laws (I salute you!) and 18 children, a night out at the local Spur must be a logistical nightmare.

Its not as if they will fit into the official 7-series, or even the ML63 for that matter.

While at times it might require the coordination of the transport minister, let me offer a simple solution ... the Fiat Scudo.

For the big family, or as a people mover, the Scudo - priced at R378600 - is the ideal car.

A sticker on our test vehicle proudly proclaimed "2008 European Van of the Year".

An award like that does not come easy but a quick look at the Scudo's credentials will tell you why it got the judges' nod.

Typically European, it comes stacked with safety features: ABS brakes, airbags (driver, front passenger, side), three-point seat belts.

For those sitting in the rear, sliding doors either side of the car means ease of entrance.

On the comfort front, independently controlled airconditioning vents prove invaluable when consensus is hard to arrive at with passengers. Front overhead storage compartments provide plenty of space for bits-'n-pieces.

Heated side mirrors help on those frosty winter mornings and opening windows on the sliding doors provide an alternative to the aircon.

With a height adjustable driver's seat and a steering wheel that is height and reach adjustable, a comfortable driving position is easily found.

Something I did rely on often while driving the Scudo was the "park assistance". This comes as an optional extra but one well worth having if you want to avoid the odd reversing into an object.

At a little over 5m long, it would be worth considering whether the car will fit into your lock-up garage. A quick comparison of the Scudo's dimensions with those of your garage could save you embarrassing blushes in the long run! With just more than 500km travelled in the week I had the Scudo, the fuel gauge was still resting on the halfway mark.

Even with a sprightly 2,0-litre engine, 1000km should be well within reach.

Admittedly, though, this was without a full load of passengers.