Scrappage special - Buyer's guide - Small family cars

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  • Our guide to what to buy
  • Get the most for your money
  • Top fives in key categories
VW Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5dr
Price £16,515
Target price £15,463
Economy 45.6mpg
CO2 144 g/km

Is there a more complete car at this price than our favourite Golf? We can't think of many because, whatever you’re looking for, chances are the Golf will deliver it.

There's that undeniably classy image, for a start. No mainstream rival can match the cachet of the VW badge, and that keeps residual values high.

Then there's the driving experience, which is second to none. The Golf has the opposition nailed here, because no other small family car strikes such a great balance between driving fun and comfort, or is as refined.

Jump inside and you'll be welcomed by a top-notch cabin. VW has got interior design down to a fine art with the latest Golf, because everything is just where it should be and is beautifully built. The driving position is spot-on, too, and there's plenty of space for both people and luggage.

No corners have been cut on safety, either. Every Golf has stability control and seven airbags and it scored maximum points in Euro NCAP’s tough new crash tests.

Don't think it'll all be exorbitantly expensive. The Golf is keenly priced, has a particularly efficient petrol engine and should hold its value well. What more could you ask for?

Kia Cee'd 1.4 GS 5dr
Price £12,240
Target price £10,740
Economy 46.3mpg
CO2 145 g/km

Why buy a supermini when you can have a roomy family hatchback for the same money. That’s the pleasant poser the Kia Cee’d sets.

Factor in a scrappage grant and the Cee'd's extra practicality and cracking value may well sway you.

There's no doubt it's big on space – there's enough rear legroom and boot space to make it a practical family car. Admittedly, the materials aren't as plush as those in some big-name small-hatch rivals, but everything is solid and stylish and works well.

The driving experience isn't compromised, either; responsive steering and nimble handling ensure there's fun to be had, even if the ride is on the firm side. Our favourite model has a gem of an engine, too – a 1.4-litre petrol that’s more powerful than many rivals', yet it's smooth, quiet and easy on fuel.

Despite its low price the Cee'd is loaded with kit – alloy wheels, air-conditioning, six airbags and a USB socket are included, as is another major attraction, Kia's peace-of-mind seven-year warranty.

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Scrappage special - Buyer's guide - Small family cars - part two

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