New family car – anything to avoid?

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  • New family car – anything to avoid?
  • chomp

    It’s time for a new family car, essential requirements are as follows:

    Estate ideally (needs to be able to get tent/dog crate/luggage etc for a family of 4 + roofbox)
    Plenty of rear leg/head room (we tried a golf/peugot 308sw for size and they are too small)
    Towbar compatible (so focus ST out of the question)

    Nice to haves

    Pleasant cockpit (knobby word – but not sure what the car equivalent is)
    Engaging to drive (doesn’t need to be super quick, but I would like it to be somewhat enjoyable if I do want to push it a little while I’m driving it)
    Decent MPG (most of the miles will be claimed for through work, so I’m ok with high 30’s low 40’s if it’s offset by the fun factor)
    Leather Seats (kids and pets = our current car seats are a right state)

    It will be used for about 25k motorway miles a year for the most part, and then as the family bus at weekends/holidays.

    We currently have a Yeti (that the wife drives and could really do with a bigger boot (the legroom/height is ok) and a Nissan Primera. The wife wants a small town car for mon – fri duties and I can’t stand the crap Primera (it was a bargain when we needed a 2nd car, but it’s horrible to drive, crap mpg & sounds like it’s almost dead)

    The standard popular response from most people I speak to seems to be an Octavia estate, but I’m looking for alternatives. I reckon we will have around £15k to spend (could poss bump it a little).

    Are there any total dogs that should be avoided at all costs?


    BMW 3 series estate is the new STW Octavia. Diesel of course.

    Get a Superb. The space is incredible for the price.

    New family car – anything to avoid?

    Having kids in the first place?

    Too late? Buy a Mondeo Estate or an S-Max if you have too many kids.

    Premier Icon benp1

    I’d say go for the 5 series over the 3 series. Better sized boot and back seats


    Octavia, Superb, Mondeo are all good cars and will do everything you need.

    The superb in estate and sportline trim is really nice but quite new so may still be expensive.

    The octavia has a new version coming out soon which will affect the 2nd hand value of nearly new cars.


    2.0 Mondeo Estate would be my choice. Go for the Titanium trim level as the cockpit layout is better.

    Something like this;


    Seat Leon estate or Honda Civic Tourer if you don’t need Mondeo type space.
    If it’s somewhere in between, then it’s hard to ignore the Octavia, I reckon.


    E92 3 Series the boot is too small. We have one and for a family of 4 camping and with a roof box it’s a real squeeze with stuff in foot wells. Definitely no room for a dog.


    I found 3 series estate and A4 estates to be way too small for what you describe.
    My family estate shortlist came down to Mondeo, A6, E class, Passat, Superb.

    Hard to look past the Mondeo for value.


    I found 3 series estate and A4 estates to be way too small for what you describe.

    As an owner of an A4, I would agree, the boot is too small for family trips. We struggle sometimes with just me and the mrs.

    We loved our old E91 3 series. Lovely to drive, really well built, looked lovely – looking at possibly getting another as a second car.

    We went to that from an Octavia and yes, the boot was marginally smaller but in real life terms it didn’t bother us. Had a roof box as well for long fortnights away with loads of stuff.

    It does sound like you need something slightly larger though when you throw the dog into the equation.

    If it was me with £15k burning a hole in my pocket I’d be looking at an A6 Avant or 5-series touring. Or maybe just putting the dog in a kennels when you go on holiday and get a 335D touring.


    I’ve been trying to ignore the Mondeo (purely snobbish reasons that have no basis in fact or experience) but a few people have mentioned them now so I may have to look at them.

    I didn’t think A4/3 Series would have the space required. Is the Leon Estate the same size inside as the Golf Estate?

    Has anyone got any real world experience of the Mazda 6 Tourer? I really like the look of them and they review/advertorial well

    New family car – anything to avoid?

    Vauxhall Insignia!

    15k would get you a nice 61 ish plate ‘C’ class Merc Estate. Depends if you can cope with the running costs.


    Mazda 6 Tourer

    Had an 05 plate was and it was a brilliant car. Massive boot, flat folding rear seats, flat loading area (no lip) on boot and totally reliable in 2.0 petrol form.

    I’d definitely buy another although I seem to remember Renton? having one and complaining the paint was too thin….but I’m not giving that too much credence from his other postings.

    Premier Icon benp1

    Ooo, I missed the dog. We had a 5 series estate with 2 young kids and a dog

    We’re now on an E class estate Since getting a 2nd dog. Feels bigger inside, the boot feels MUCH bigger. Two dogs and some kit no problem. Plus seats that fold into the floor, means taking 3-4 kids (incl child seats) is possible for days out


    I’m looking for similar later this year – I am thinking Quasqai +2 as we go camping and have a dog so the extra space will be useful for family trips. I am 100% going to get one with the panoramic roof though…

    Premier Icon Sundayjumper

    3-Series, C-Class, A4 will all be far too small for 4+dog. Dogs seem to take up a huge amount of space.


    15k would get you a nice 61 ish plate ‘C’ class Merc Estate. Depends if you can cope with the running costs.

    It should get you a whole lot more than a C class of that age!


    VW Touran, okay doesn’t quite pass the exciting to drive box, but otherwise it would be perfect. And it isn’t terrible to drive, will eat up the miles. There are some good options like airline style tables for the kids and 12v sockets for them to plug their tablet, DVD player or whatever into.

    Premier Icon prawny

    I was going to say 3 series until I saw the bit about a dog.

    That said, I love mine, and I think I’d rather have a 3 series and a roof box for holidays than a 5 series/E class day to day.

    I’ve got a 320d saloon and it’s cheaper to run than our previous (newer) 1.6 tdci focus.

    3 series estate is tiny inside, with a tiny boot…
    Mate has one and from what I seen it’s a really nice car but too expensive and small to persuade me it’s worth the premium over the Octavia vrs that I’ve got…

    I decided I didn’t like the mondeo.

    I’d go with either the Mazda 6, superb, or as I did, the Octavia in vrs trim….
    Whilst the Passat is the same car as the skodas I couldn’t help feeling bored by it…


    How much boot do you need?

    There are a few SUV/crossovers that may do the job nicely here. I’m thinking Mazda CX-5 or Honda CRV.

    Ignore the haters etc.


    The boot in the Yeti we’ve currently got struggles to cope with our kit when we go camping anywhere for more than a weekned. With a roofbox we can have a week or more’s kit however we can’t have parcel shelf down.

    Obviously this will increase for hols with the pooch.

    Will have to get some test drives booked


    I had an 09 plate Mazda 6, one of the nicest cars I’ve owned.

    Quick, economical, comfy, handled nicely, stood up to family/mtb related abuse well over the 4 years and 90k miles I had it.

    Very likely to get a diesel auto estate 6 later this year when I change my current car.

    FWIW I’ve test driven in the last 4 months the Mazda 6, E and C class Merc estates, Superb Estate (not the current shape), BMW 5 series estate and the Volvo v70.

    IMO the Mazda gives the best combo of purchase cost/running costs/standard kit/comfort/handling. Looking at 2/3 yrs old models for all the above.


    Bit different, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, 40mpg+, good to drive, plenty of space, good cockpit and very comfortable over long journeys.


    that’s good info to have Wombat.

    Salsa – while the Jag is nice I don’t think a low mileage one is in my budget

    Bit different, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, 40mpg+, good to drive, plenty of space, good cockpit and very comfortable over long journeys.

    Premier Icon chrissyharding

    Qashqai. Had a hired one. Brilliant.

    I just had a go in a new Astra SRi as I’d hired the car for the day.

    Pretty nice. Decent poke, decent mileage, decent room in it. Digital stuff worked well.

    I dunno, I’m not into new cars (I have a 15 year old MX5 and am single so you know…) but, nothing about it upset me?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    Anything to avoid?

    Premier Icon chickenman

    The Mazda 6 is a great car. I would however avoid the diesel like the plague though; not that economical and all sorts of issues caused by the DPF. I had a bill in excess of £2k for new injectors after the bolts holding them in slackened off!


    Bit different, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, 40mpg+, good to drive, plenty of space, good cockpit and very comfortable over long journeys.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    I have a B7 Passat. You’d probably swing a B8 in your budget.

    It’s the 170 TDI.

    It goes well, the boot is decent, the spec is good (sport tech line), seats are comfy and it chews up motorway really well. I do 20,000 a year mostly major roads and motorways. It is however a bit blunt in terms of steering and braking feel.

    The Mondeo is imo a better driver’s car from my testing and a little bigger inside and out.

    I had a lower budget than you and it got me a 4year old 40k miles car (I looked at a very similar price, age and spec Titanium X Mondeo at the same time).
    The Passat won because it had satnav and I got some money off. If I was doing it again now I’d still happily have either but the Mondeo might just edge it.

    I really fancied a 5 series or E class but Mercedes and BMW at same price were a year or so older and carrying 75k+ typically. With the potentially higher running costs I decided not to. You’ve got that extra bit of budget and I’d certainly go and have a look.

    Watching with interest, could probably have written this post myself, minus the dog (for that reason I’m tempted by the 3 series).

    What’s the current thoughts on Diesel versus petrol? I’m concerned that Diesel is increasingly becoming demonised, and soon financially penalised which will impact running costs and resale in future. Particularly as, especially at that price point, it’s unlikely you’d get an engine that passes Euro 6 standards.

    Also, where’s current best place for second hand, is aurotrader still the go to?


    Try the various -Max cars, the B-Max, C-Max and S-Max. B is Fiesta based, C is Focus and S is Mondeo, plus there are Grand iterations, at least on the S, anyway. Big advantage over the regular estates is the fact that the rear roofline doesn’t drop down at the back, and the rear doors slide, allowing better access into the rear of the car for loading, and the rear hatch is that bit higher as well, when loading.
    The B is a joy to drive, like the regular Fiesta, and the C handles pretty much like the Focus sibling, cockpit is very well specced, plus you get a heated screen which does make life that bit easier on cold icy mornings.
    I’ve driven several of each, and they’re just really nice cars to be in and drive. I’m particularly fond of the B-Max, because it’s just fun, with the added convenience, but it may be a tad small, but all three are worth a look.
    It might be worth looking at car auctions – I work for one of the big national ones, which is how I get to try them out, I’m a logistics delivery driver, and there are a lot go through as ex-Motability and lease cars; generally pretty low mileage* usually not much more than two to three years old, but they often show a bit of ‘wear and tear’, which may be an advantage, the price is lower than book, and you don’t feel quite so protective of it like you would a pristine car.
    I’ve driven a Mazda 6, and it is a fine car, it might be worth looking at the Hyundai SUV’s, like the ix35, one of which I drove the other day, and liked a lot, nicer drive than the Qashqai and the 2 litre I had was a 4×4, but I’d avoid the auto.
    *Last week I picked up a 66 plate Qashqai with 2420 miles on the clock, ex-Motability, and an ex-lease Citroen C4 Cactus, 16 plate, with 4495 miles on it.


    I have a Focus 1.6 Ecoboost Titanium X Estate and it has been a really good car. Getting a Focus ST estate next month, so it needs to go before the end of Feb.

    180 bhp Turbo Petrol
    Part Leather seats
    Heated front seats
    Sat Nav
    Reversing Camera
    Front and Rear parking sensors
    Auto Parallel Park
    Dual climate
    Heated windscreen
    Xenon Headlights
    LED daylight running lights
    DAB radio
    Blue metallic
    Michelin Cross Climate tyres all round

    Easily does 40+ mpg and you can fit a towbar 😉

    Excellent condition, only 30,000 miles and will be 4 years old in March. 2013 plate. Looking for £8900

    Premier Icon PePPeR

    I was in Corby yesterday and saw the Vauxhall dealer had 15 or so Zafira Tourer, with 10 miles or so on the clock for, £16,500.

    If I wanted a kids barge, this would be a fine motor.


    I don’t want a kids barge – I want a nice big estate that I can get the kids and all our stuff in for trips away.

    I’m driving the thing all week so there’s a compromise on function (for family) and form (for me).

    I hadn’t really thought about the Petrol/Diesel aspect and just figured that given the number of miles and length of regular journeys a diesel would be the one to go for. . .

    Focus is too small I’m afraid servo

    Premier Icon onewheelgood

    For that money you’ll get a pretty reasonable A6 – probably not a V6, but the 2.0s aren’t bad. I still really miss mine.

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