Family cars - part two

* Our guide to what to buy * Get the most for your money * Top fives in key categories...

Family cars - part two

Mazda 6 2.2D 123 S 5dr
Price 15,869
Target price 14,731
Economy 51.4mpg
CO2 147g/km

We've always rated the Mazda 6 highly, but with its new 2.2-litre diesel our opinion has been pushed even higher.

This smoother, quieter engine gives it the refinement to match its slinky looks, so the price tag is even more likely to drop your jaw to the floor.

The Mazda 6 is a large, spacious family hatchback that's great fun to drive, looks like a compact executive saloon, is well made and should run like clockwork. And all for a lower price than you'll find for some rivals from the class below, let alone cars of a similar size.

Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI S
Price 16,980
Target price 15,606
Economy 37.2mpg
CO2 emissions 180 g/km

For the same price as a mid-spec small hatchback you can luxuriate in a big, classy family car with the space of an executive saloon.

That's what the Superb offers. And this model's turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine is strong, refined and economical, and low on emissions.

The high-quality cabin is huge, and the clever tailgate lets you to choose between saloon security and hatchback practicality.

There's plenty of standard equipment, too, on top of a fine driving experience. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it.

Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec 5dr
Price 20,990
Target price 18,338
Economy 47.9mpg
CO2 156 g/km

First things first; a series of price rises have recently made the Mondeo look rather expensiv'. Factor in dealer discounts, though, and scrappage cash back, and its still sound value for money.

For us, it's still the best family car, bar none. Reason? Because it's one of the few big-selling models to have that magic ability to make you feel special.

It isn't just the class-leading handling, superb ride quality and sensational refinement. It's also the classy cabin, thoughtful design and the way everything works in harmony that tells you it's a seriously well-engineered car.

Add outstanding practicality and a generous equipment list and it's well worth the money.