Britain's best family cars - Activity central

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Whether you’re a young family on a budget or have a home-made football team to taxi around, you’ll find the best buys here.

Have a look at the following families – and see which one matches your automotive requirements the best…

Young family of three
Small urban car required

Growing family
Space for clutter is vital

Activity central
Taxi for two teenagers

Big brood
Large six- or seven-seater

Three young children
...but no MPVs please

Activity central
The Sturgeons
Graham (52)
Catherine (50)
Richard (16)
William (16)
Annual mileage 15,000

‘We need a family taxi for two teenagers with hectic social lives’

Budget available: £13k

Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.6 HDi 90 VTR
List price £13,215 Target price £12,379
Saftety Rating Child 4 stars Adult 4 stars
It might look like a van, but the Berlingo is actually based on Citroën’s popular C4 Picasso MPV. That means it isn’t agricultural to drive and it has a practical and spacious cabin. Okay, it isn’t as chic or as clever as the Picasso, but it’s £5500 cheaper. The sliding rear doors are useful and this mid-spec diesel version manages 50mpg.

Budget available: £13k-£16.6k

Seat Altea XL 1.4 TSI SE
List price £17,400 Target price £16,454
Saftety Rating (not tested)
The Altea XL is a stylish alternative to a conventional MPV. The back seats don’t tumble and they can’t be removed, but they do slide back and forth, and can be folded flat. The boot is also vast and has a split-level floor. What’s more, the XL is cheaper to buy and better to drive than many MPV rivals.

Budget available: £16.5k-£20k

Mazda 6 Estate 2.2D 163 TS
List price £19,490 Target price £17,669
Saftety Rating Child 81% Adult 77%
Our 2010 Estate of the Year is all the car that most families of four will ever need. The 6’s boot isn’t just huge, it’s also a good shape, and the cabin is big enough to accommodate even the lankiest family with ease. Better still, this 6 costs £2505 less to buy than an equivalent Ford Mondeo and it will hold its value better.

Budget available: £20k-£25k

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Style 7st
List price £22,245 Target price £21,011
Saftety Rating Not tested
MPV practicality in a 4x4 body. There is a five-seat version of the Santa Fe, but we reckon the added practicality of seven seats is easily worth the £700 premium that Hyundai charges – even if the extra two seats will be rarely used. The big Hyundai is good value for money and comes with a five-year warranty.

Budget available: £25k-£35k

Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI Estate Blue Eff’ SE
List price £32,230 Target price £30,735
Saftety Rating Child 77% Adult 86%
Merc’s classy new estate isn’t cheap, but it’s practical, comfortable and refined. The cavernous boot is easy to access because the tailgate and luggage cover are both electrically operated. Need an even bigger loadbay? Simply tug a handle to fold the rear seats flat. This SE model has a cushy ride and lots of safety kit.

Used bargains

From £11,049
Nissan Qashqai
1.5 dCi Visia, ’07/57, 20,800 miles
Nissan’s crossover redefined family transport with its 4x4 styling and spacious cabin. It’s also comfortable and reliable, making it a hassle-free used buy. This diesel model should hold its value well.

From £12,495
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi VTR, ’08/08,
18,000 miles
With a practical, seven-seat cabin, this Citroën is a family car master. It’s also got a supple ride and excellent refinement.

Britain's best family cars - Big brood


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