What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Family car contenders

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Best buy less than £17,000
Skoda Superb 1.4 TSI S
List price £16,679
Target Price £15,660

Value for money forms a big part of a family car’s appeal – and on that they don’t come much better than the Skoda Superb.

Our chosen model sets you back just £16,679 – that’s peanuts for a family car, especially one this huge. The mammoth proportions give you interior space that’ll have most limousines licked – if you find yourself pushed for head- or legroom in any of the five seats, you must live at the top of a beanstalk. The boot is a monster, too, and the ingenious part-hatch-part-saloon bootlid means loading it is easy.

It’s not just the sheer size that makes the Superb a nice place to spend time in, though. The cabin is classy and flawlessly built, and the supple ride and great refinement mean you’ll munch through the miles in
total comfort.

Don’t go thinking that the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine isn’t up to the job, either. Yes, it has plenty of metal to haul around, but it’s perky enough to keep you rolling along at a decent pace, and it always stays smooth and quiet. Running costs are pretty reasonable, too.

Granted, the list of family cars available at this money isn’t exactly long, but that doesn’t mean that the Skoda gets the nod by default. We reckon the Superb is well worthy of the name, so it’s the one for us.

Skoda Superb performance
0-62mph 10.5 seconds Top speed 125mph
Running costs
Economy 41.5mpg CO2 157g/km Insurance group 15

What the testers thought...
You have to wonder how Skoda can do it. The Superb is a huge, classy family car that’s easy and comfortable to drive, yet it costs less than many small family hatches. Euan.Doig@whatcar.com


Best buy £17,000 – £20,000
Mazda 6 2.2D 161 TS 5dr
List price £18,708
Target Price £17,024

There's no shortage of choice when your budget stretches to 20 grand. Most of our family car favourites are available at this money, and in many cases the best versions are within reach.

The Toyota Avensis is comfy, practical and reliable, while the Volkswagen Passat is classy and fun to drive. There’s also the rakish good looks of the Vauxhall Insignia, or the refined Citroën C5.

Choose wisely, though, and you can have all these talents wrapped up in one car: the Mazda 6.They come at an affordable price, too. At £18,708, our favourite 6 undercuts most of the competition by a fair chunk. What’s more, this Mazda’s resale values are stronger than a body-builder’s biceps, so private buyers are in for a treat when they sell the car.

Company car drivers will also be laughing all the way to the bank – that’s important, because they’re the people who make up the majority of family car drivers. Our chosen 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine is among the class best on CO2 emissions, and because list prices are so low, you pay even less when it comes to company car tax.

Whether you choose the 2.2D TS or go for another version in the Mazda 6 range, you’ll get
a brilliant car. They’re all great to drive, generously equipped and are cracking value for money.

Mazda 6 performance
0-62mph 9.2 seconds Top speed 132mph
Running costs
Economy 51.4mpg CO2 147g/km Insurance group 23

What the testers thought...
The 6 isn’t as big as a Ford Mondeo or Skoda Superb, but adults can still get comfy in the back, and its dimensions are welcome when moving in tight spaces. Peter.Lawton@whatcar.com


Best buy more than £20,000
Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec 5dr
List price £22,728
Target Price £19,224

A good family car needs to be able to cope with anything you can throw at it – and that’s what
the Mondeo does better than any rival. Whether you’re slogging up and down the country for business meetings or ferrying the kids to footy practice, the Ford makes your life easy.

Why? It’s totally at home on any sort of road, that’s why. Refinement is top-drawer and the ride is super-slick, so you can put hundreds of motorway miles behind you and arrive fresh and ready for business. The handling is great, too, so it feels secure and composed when the kids are on board, and it also means you can have some fun when they’re not. You get plenty of poke from the 2.0-litre diesel engine we’ve chosen here, plus it’s smooth and economical.

The massive cabin also helps to make family life easy. The passenger compartment has more room than five people will ever need, and the boot is so big that your bags might need a map to find their way out. Sure, the materials are a little bit on the cheap side in places, but the ones you encounter most often are as plush as you like.

There’s no doubt, the Mondeo is pricey, especially for company car drivers. However, if your budget will stretch to it, it might just be worth paying the extra for this family favourite from Ford.

Ford Mondeo performance
0-60mph 9.3 seconds Top speed 130mph
Running costs
Economy 47.9mpg CO2 156g/km Insurance group 18

What the testers thought...
Everything about the Mondeo feels reassuringly solid, from the gearshift through to the controls and cabin materials. It feels like a really well engineered car. Alex.JennerFust@whatcar.com


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What Car? Car of the Year awards 2010 - Family car winner


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