We too have a Mazda Bongo, a fresh import from Japan. We've had "Ali" for almost a year nd all is fine. The kids love the elevating roof, we bought it as a day van. The factory they were made in, in Japan burnt down in 2005, so they have not been manufactured since then, so are becoming more difficult to get hold off.
I have an Peugoet Expert Tepee, the 8 seater. We've just paid extra to have isofix put into the middle seats of the rows for our 2 new arrivals in Dec. All seats are taken. Kinda okay with space but not massively.
zumo: hadn't looked at the Bongo before...looks interesting, might look at that a bit more we are luck to have a great little independant garage we use for both our cars, very honest and are so helpful with things like collecting the car after I've done the school run and getting it back in time for pick up, if they can't the owners lends us their own old vaux zafira as their usual courtasy cars wont fit all the kids in
wallace & mumslady: I know a few VX Caravelle and Transporter owners. Caravelle is out of our reach unfortunately but very lovelly.
anklebiter: I would love a Hyundai but second hand really seem to hold their price well. We've had such good experience with japanese makes, my hubby currently drives an old T reg toyota corolla which is now over 200,000 and last service only needed a couple of new tyres!
we have a T5 and think they are great for large families leather seats & rubber floor mean no more srubbing at upholstery when there are the occasional accidents either. Had for few years & so far, nothing gone wrong...very reliable
We have had a Mazda Bongo ( Ford Freda is the same) for just over 12 months and cant fault it, bought it cheap as it needed some work, but it was all stuff we could do our selves. They are prone to low coolant levels but just fit this and it eliminates the issue. http://www.coolantalarm.co.uk/shop/index.php The Bongo also has a very good owners club http://www.bongofury.co.uk/
We looked at the Vito but didn't buy as we had heard about some possible big bills and rust issues but we did like them. We also like the VW T4 but felt they are too expensive as double the price of a Bongo, but if you do a lot of miles they are much better of fuel. What you need to consider is how much a year it costs to keep it on the road, find a good local independent garage who knows Vitos well try asking a Taxi driver as some use them as cabs so some one will be fixing them, shop around for service and repairs
We have a Merc Vito 9 seater. I love it, a few extra seats for friends over after school and loads of room for the buggy and a clutch or bikes in the boot. The 2 rear rows of seats are on tracking so can make the boot really big when we go away.
BUT....since we got it just after DC4 was born in 2011 it's been a bit of a money drain - it wasn't new, 2005 reg. In the last 6 months we've had the prop shaft fail (over £1000!), problems with the locking system and the main fuel pump now as well (likely to be over £500).
I really want to know what you think of the similar models out there. Which ones would be a good alternative??