Discussing the best MPVs for £15,000 is clearly the most noble pastime on the planet.

Discussing the best MPVs for £15,000 is clearly the most noble pastime on the planet. Nuclear disarmament, ozone depletion, and NHS reform will just have to wait - finding the perfect family taxi must surely be the priority. Now, for this bargain basement price your choice of vehicle is rather limited, but there are a couple of seriously capable contenders.

The first is the Skoda Roomster 1.6 TDI CR SE. This is part multi-purpose-vehicle, part van. The three rear seats, for example, both recline and slide forwards and backwards. There are twenty seating combinations in total. The seats can be removed too, increasing cargo capacity from 450-litres to a mighty 1,780-litres. This is slightly more than the longer Ford Mondeo Estate. The 1.6-litre diesel engine produces 90ps, propelling the Roomster to 62mph in 13.3 seconds. Average fuel consumption is a very respectable 60.1mpg.

Its main rival, for the price, is the entry-level Vauxhall Zafira 1.6 VVT Expression. This longer machine can hold seven people, two more than the Skoda Roomster. Maximum storage capacity is larger too, so expect to throw-in 1,820-litres of family-focussed supplies. Its 1.6-litre 115ps petrol engine propels the Zafira to 62mph faster than its opponent, 12.5 seconds to be precise, but only averages 42.2mpg. This is 17.9mpg less.

The Vauxhall Zafira and Skoda Roomster both handle properly, but they are clearly designed for cruising only. Equipment specifications are comparable too, so nothing to choose between them in these areas. In fact, it is tricky to pick an overall winner. The Skoda is cheaper to run and more distinctive, yet its rival has more seats. As such, I would recommend the Roomster unless you need to carry seven. Right, time to fix the NHS.