- Published 27 November 2019
- 3 minute read
- By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Welcome to the world of the family car. If you’re reading this, you need to face up to the fact that your days as a wild child are over – it’s time to get practical and rational. Which means buying a suitable car.
You’re swapping hardcore vodka-enriched all-nighters for Nurofen-fuelled mornings at the soft play centre. It’s a world of Isofix points, wipe-clean surfaces and trying to cram a pushchair into a boot. Again.
Here, we’ve selected four cars that are large enough for small families without resorting to a full-size SUV or people carrier. They’re also surprisingly affordable, especially if you opt for a lease or Personal Contract Hire (PCH) deal. All prices mentioned are approximate and correct at the time of writing.
Skoda Kamiq: from £194 a month (estimated)
Own a Skoda Kamiq for buttons on a lease deal Lease Now
The pre-school car park will be filled with compact crossovers and SUVs. Thanks to a high driving position, spacious interior and strong safety credentials, these things are more popular than a free bar on a hen night.
There are many new crossovers to choose from, but the Skoda Kamiq is one of the latest to hit the market, which means you can bask in the warm glow of being an early adopter. It also happens to be one of the best, so you’ll be laughing all the way to the crèche
Highlights include a 400-litre boot, which extends to 1,395 litres with the rear seats folded down. Perfect for those rare moments when you leave the kids with the in-laws before heading out to do some ‘lifestyle’ things.
It’ll seat four adults comfortably, so your little ones have plenty of room to grow into, and the Kamiq has been awarded the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Throw into the mix an array of clever features, a generous level of standard spec and a range of efficient engines, and you’ve got the makings of the perfect car for small families.
Dacia Duster: from £162 a month
Lots of space for not much money Lease Now
Do you like the feeling of getting more for your money? Like a free upgrade at the car rental desk or getting a penthouse suite when you booked a standard double? If so, the Dacia Duster is the car for you.
This is a family-sized crossover for the price of a supermini – even a top-spec Duster costs around £1,000 more than an entry-level Ford Fiesta. Like little Freddie, who keeps chucking crisps down the slide in the playground, it’s far from perfect, but it’s one of the best value new cars you can buy.
The three-star safety rating will deter some buyers, but the relatively low score is due in part to the lack of crash avoidance technology. However, you’ll love the 445 litres of boot space, the two Isofix child car seat mounting points and the general feeling of roominess. As anyone with a growing family will tell you, you can never have too much space.
Avoid the entry-level Access trim, because a lease contract is a long time to live without air conditioning, a radio and split-folding rear seats. Other trim levels are more generous, and although some parts of the cabin might feel cheap and plasticky, the interior should stand up to an assault by little ones. You also won’t mind if an entire McFlurry ends up on the carpet.
Vauxhall Combo Life: from £231 a month
Sliding rear doors make the Vauxhall Combo Life very practical Lease Now
“Life, oh life, oh life, oh life. Doo, doot, doot, dooo.” Singer Des’ree won’t go down in history as one of the world’s great lyricists, but we’re sure she’d appreciate the practical charms of the Vauxhall Combo Life.
If you’d rather have a piece of toast and watch the evening news than drive a van-based MPV, hear us out, because few cars offer such a compelling blend of space and value for money. Crucially, the Combo Life has room for three child seats, so you’re covered if baby number three turns up before the end of the lease.
There are two versions available – standard or XL – plus a seven-seat option if required. Even in standard five-seat guise, the Combo Life offers 597 litres of boot space, while the XL has a massive 850 litres of capacity. Trust us on this: your compact crossover friends will be green with envy.
They’ll also kick themselves for not ordering a family car with sliding doors. Once you’ve lived with a pair of these, you’ll wonder how you coped without them. The kids love them, too, which is an added bonus. Plus, buy a Combo Life in red and you’ll be ready to play the role of Postman Pat at the school fancy dress party.
Ford Focus: from £231 a month
Ford Focus hatchback is a popular family chariot Lease Now
You’d be forgiven for thinking the traditional family hatchback has had its day, as an ever-increasing number of people fall for the charms of a crossover. But the fourth-generation Ford Focus proves that there’s life in the hatch yet.
Unlike the majority of crossovers, it’s fun to drive, while Ford has managed to cram in an impressive array of tech, safety equipment and space into a car that’s almost hard to fault. In fact, it comes very close to toppling the Volkswagen Golf as the best family hatchback.
Even the entry-level Focus Style offers a generous level of equipment, although we’d upgrade to the Focus Zetec, if only to get our hands on the more powerful version of the 1.0-litre engine. There’s a Focus for all, from the standard hatchback to the crossover-inspired Active, plus practical estate and sporty ST versions.
Not convinced by our choices? Other cars worth considering include the Suzuki Vitara, Mazda CX-3 and Seat Arona. Remember, if you’re signing up for a lengthy lease deal, make sure the car suits your needs now and in the future. Cancelling a lease contract could leave a big hole in your family budget.
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