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The best family cars for every budget

The best family cars for every budget

The best family cars for every budgetWhile most of us dream of sports cars and hot hatches, there comes a time in our lives when we need something a little more practical. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of 20 family cars to suit every budget. Yep, we have everything from a Dacia to a Rolls-Royce, and much more in between.

£5,000 – £10,000: Dacia SanderoThe best family cars for every budget

The Dacia Sandero is available for a headline price of £5,995, but unless you enjoy the feeling of sweaty armpits and the sound of your own singing voice, we’d avoid the Access model. Instead, upgrade to the mid-spec Ambiance for manual air conditioning and DAB digital radio.

Even with the Sandero Ambiance with the super-frugal diesel engine creeps below the £10,000 mark, but we’d save the best part of £1,500 and choose the turbocharged petrol engine for £7,995.

£5,000 – £10,000: Dacia DusterThe best family cars for every budget

We make no apology for featuring a second Dacia in our bargain basement category because the Duster offers exceptional value for money. Yes, the £9,495 Access is basic in the extreme, but there’s something appealing about a UN-spec SUV-lookalike for the price of a supermini.

The 1.6-litre SCe petrol engine offers as much as 44.1mpg on a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 145g/km. This is the closest you can get to a Tonka toy for grown-ups. Just steer clear of the skirting boards.

£10,001 – £15,000: SsangYong TivoliThe best family cars for every budget

The SsangYong Tivoli might be a leftfield choice, but it offers exceptional value for money. Both the petrol and diesel engine versions of the entry-level SE model are available for less than £15,000, while even the better equipped EX breaks the £15k mark by a mere £300.

At the time of writing, SsangYong is offering discounts of up to £2,155 across the Tivoli range, taking the top-spec ELX diesel with a manual gearbox down to £16,995. Prices start from just £11,995.

£10,001 – £15,000: Skoda Rapid SpacebackThe best family cars for every budget

Don’t be fooled by the name, because the Spaceback is smaller than the standard Skoda Rapid. As a result, boot space is down 135 litres, but the load space is a better shape, making it easier to make full use of the 415 litres on offer.

That’s a boot larger than the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, despite the Spaceback sitting on the same platform as the Polo. The 1.0 TSI S is the only model to meet the £10-£15k criteria, although some haggling should secure an SE Tech within budget.

£15,001 – £20,000: Mazda CX-3The best family cars for every budget

If you must drive a compact crossover, do the right thing and make sure it looks good and drives like a regular hatchback. You’re not exactly spoilt for choice, but fortunately, the Mazda CX-3 fits the bill.

The SE Nav version is available for £18,495 when powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine and £19,995 for the 1.6-litre diesel. The boot offers 350 litres of boot space, which extends to 1,260 litres with the rear seats folded down.

£15,001 – £20,000: Skoda OctaviaThe best family cars for every budget

Assuming you’re not after a crossover, the Skoda Octavia might be the ultimate family car. It’s larger than the Volkswagen Golf upon which it is based, with 590 litres of boot space, extending to 1,580 litres with the rear seats folded down. And that’s just the hatchback version.

Prices start from £17,195 for the entry-level 1.0 TSI S, while the 1.5 TSI SE slips below the £20k mark. Right now, Skoda is offering £3,500 scrappage discount on the Octavia.

£20,001 – £25,000: Citroen Grand C4 PicassoThe best family cars for every budget

Seven-seat MPVs are hardly flavour of the month, but if you want a proper MPV, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a great option. Prices start from £23,155 for the Touch Edition, with the mid-spec Feel available for £24,530.

The Grand C4 Picasso looks good – a rare thing in this segment – and the cabin is light and airy. The middle-row seats slide individually and offer a huge amount of space, while the rearmost seats are perfectly adequate for children and occasional use by adults.

£20,001 – £25,000: Skoda SuperbThe best family cars for every budget

The Superb range kicks off at £20,050, with even the most lavishly-equipped model costing a reasonable £35,000. Spend some time in a Skoda Superb and you’ll begin to question why anyone would fork out more on a so-called ‘premium’ car.

The boot is huge – 625 litres extending to 1,760 litres – while rear seat passengers will enjoy the limo-like legroom.

£25,001 – £30,000: Audi Q3The best family cars for every budget

The Audi Q3 competes against the Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1, but unlike its German rivals, it’s pleasing on the eye. The interior, while a little sombre, oozes quality, while the badge will provide some driveway appeal.

The Sport trim kicks off at £27,610, while the ultra-desirable S Line Edition creeps below the £30k mark by £150. Be warned: go mad with the options list and the Q3 becomes rather expensive.

£25,001 – £30,000: Skoda KodiaqThe best family cars for every budget

Recently, Reuters reported that Volkswagen might take measures to “curb competition from lower-cost stablemate Skoda, move some of its production to Germany and make the Czech brand pay more for shared technology.” If VW bosses are concerned, the Kodiaq will give them sleepless nights.

Even a top-spec Kodiaq with seven seats costs a little over £30,000, with prices starting from £22,000. This SUV will sell like the hottest of hot cakes.

£30,001 – £40,000: Jaguar F-PaceThe best family cars for every budget

Speaking of hot cakes… The F-Pace is fuelling what looks likely to be a record-breaking year for Jaguar, with sales up 8% on the same point in 2016, at 401,565 vehicles sold. The Jaguar F-Pace is hot property.

Prices start from £34,730 for the Prestige model, with the range-topping S costing £52,665. Not only does the F-Pace seat five adults, but the boot is also able to carry 650 litres of luggage with the rear seats in place. More F-Space, then?

£30,001 – £40,000: Volvo V90The best family cars for every budget

Thankfully, not everybody has bought into the crossover-SUV craze, which is why Volvo can produce masterpieces such as the V90. While we might miss the old five-cylinder engines, and the boot isn’t as cavernous as it was in the old days, the V90 is handsome in a way a crossover so often isn’t.

Prices start from £36,345, while the beautifully-appointed Inscription model slips beneath the £40k mark. The interior is a masterclass in fit, finish and simple sophistication.

£40,001 – £50,000: Porsche MacanThe best family cars for every budget

Of the 186,000 Porsche sales so far in 2017, 49,000 of them were Cayenne and 73,000 Macan. To say the SUV saved the company would be a huge understatement. Porsche can play with wild 911 creations thanks to the Macan and Cayenne.

The Macan range kicks off at £46,000 for the entry-level model, with the S and S Diesel both available for less than £50,000. That it isn’t quite as practical as some of its rivals won’t matter one jot when you reach your favourite corner of the local B-road. This is essentially a 911 in an SUV suit.

£40,001 – £50,000: Land Rover DiscoveryThe best family cars for every budget

One of the world’s greatest off-roaders just got better; it’s just a shame Land Rover forgot to finish the styling. Putting the controversial tailgate design to one side for a moment, the fifth generation Discovery offers a compelling blend of on- and off-road manners.

In seven-seat form, you’ll find 258 litres of space, although this increases to 1,137 litres with the rearmost seats folded down. Fold the second row and the Discovery could give a small van a run for its money, offering 2,406 litres of space. Prices start from £46,000.

£50,001 – £75,000: Volvo XC90The best family cars for every budget

The reinvention of Volvo began with the XC90, with the smaller XC60 and XC40 soon following suit. For such a large SUV, the XC90 oozes charm and elegance, while the minimalist interior is arguably the best thing this side of a luxury car costing tens of thousands of pounds more.

Prices start from £49,905, while the T8 Twin Engine weighs in at £61,705. Three years on from its launch, the XC90 has lost none of its appeal.

£50,001 – £75,000: Audi Q7The best family cars for every budget

The Audi Q7 might not be as elegant as the Volvo XC90, but it’s arguably its closest rival. If the original Q7 was a cumbersome and aggressive machine, the new version is positively featherlight, shedding 325kg between generations. As as a result, it’s more efficient and less of a threat to polar bears and penguins.

Not that it is any prettier, although owners will love the huge amount of interior space, which extends to 1,955 litres, some 100 litres more than the XC90.

£75,001 – £100,000: Range RoverThe best family cars for every budget

The Range Rover is the Swiss Army Knife of the automotive world, blending off-road capabilities, family car appeal and opulent levels of luxury in one iconic package.

Sure, it won’t be the cheapest thing to run, but that hardly seems to matter at this price point. Besides, few cars offer such impeccable on- and off-road manners. Go forth and climb every mountain and ford every stream.

£75,001 – £100,000: Porsche Panamera Sport TurismoThe best family cars for every budget

Dear Porsche, thank you for giving us an alternative to the SUV. For the first time in a Panamera, the Sport Turismo offers a central third seat, although this is available as a delete option.

There’s also more headroom in the back and more luggage space in the boot. But before you get too carried away, at 520 litres, it’s only 20 litres more than you’d find in the regular Panamera. Still, this is a very cool thing.

£101,000+: Bentley BentaygaThe best family cars for every budget

You probably don’t like the look of the Bentley Bentayga, and that’s your prerogative. But ask anyone who has spent quality time in Bentley’s first SUV and they’ll regale you with tales of brilliance and wonderment.

From our 2016 review: “We shuddered at the thought of a Bentley SUV a few years ago. But the Bentayga has confounded all our fears. A cosseting, rapid and satisfying to drive luxury SUV, it’s a true Bentley – the best car the firm makes. Without doubt, one of the best premium SUVs you can buy, full stop.”

£101,000+: Rolls-Royce GhostThe best family cars for every budget

Into the realms of fantasy we go. Look, the Rolls-Royce Ghost has got four doors and four seats, so it must qualify as a family car. Not convinced? This thing has a 490-litre boot.

If you’ve spent a quarter of a million quid on a family car, we doubt you’ll be too fussed about the thirst, so we won’t mention the 20mpg figure. But good luck finding a space in the pre-school car park…

>NEXT: 10 most popular paint colours revealed

Best budget family cars

Best budget family cars

Best budget family carsTransporting a family is hard work at the best of times, but trying to do it on a budget is even tougher. Fortuntely, trying to be fiscally responsible doesn’t mean you have to compromise on a new car – as these 12 choices demonstrate.


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Dacia Duster: from £9,495Best budget family cars

As one of the cheapest cars on sale in the UK, the Dacia Duster is perfect for embracing automotive austerity. There’s genuine off-road ability and its looks are pleasingly utilitarian, rather than needlessly overstyled. The interior is equally spartan, but it means you can let kids and dogs go wild, and fill the 451 litres of boot space without concern.

The Access model is priced from £9,495, and really is budget motoring: a radio is not even standard. You’ll have to adjust your wing mirrors manually, but at least the windows are operated electrically. Move further up the range and you’ll get sat nav and air conditioning included, but the Duster makes the most sense bought as cheaply as possible.

Dacia Logan MCV Stepway: from £11,495Best budget family cars

The regular Dacia Logan MCV is a cheap and cheerful compact estate, but moving up to the Stepway version adds extra glamour with off-road-ready bodywork. Think of this as a very cut-price alternative to the Audi A4 Allroad or Volvo V60 Cross Country. Although with 1,518 litres of boot space with the seats down, the MCV Stepway is actually more practical than those premium machines.

With a starting price of £11,495, the Logan MCV Stepway might seem pricey for a Dacia, but you do gain a more substantial level of specification. Parking sensors, air conditioning and even satellite navigation come as part of the deal in Laureate trim, while there is a choice of petrol or diesel engines.

Suzuki Baleno: from £11,999Best budget family cars

Created as a larger alternative for buyers who have outgrown the Swift supermini, the Baleno offers up a decent combination of price and practicality. It’s big on interior space, with plenty of room for those up-front and for rear passengers. The boot can also hold 320 litres of luggage: on par with the bigger Ford Focus.

Suzuki offers a comprehensive standard specification across the Baleno range, with even the £11,999 entry-level SZ3 packed full of features: DAB radio, air conditioning, automatic headlights and even a leather-covered steering wheel are all there. SZ3 trim means you only get the 1.2-litre petrol engine, though. You’ll need to spend an extra £2,000 to get your hands on the superb 1.0-litre turbocharged Boosterjet engine.

Nissan Pulsar: from £13,275Best budget family cars

While the Juke and Qashqai crossovers take all the Nissan limelight, the hatchback Pulsar is left in the shadows. This is a conventional family hatch in the truest sense of the word, bringing nothing revolutionary to the segment. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though – especially if you happen to have children with rather long legs.

Yes, the Pulsar has the largest amount of rear legroom in the entire C-segment hatchback class: enough to shame much bigger cars. It’s also competitive in terms of boot space, beating the omnipresent Volkswagen Golf with 385 litres. The cheapest 1.2-litre turbo Visia model includes air conditioning, cruise control, and Bluetooth connectivity, all for the bargain price of £13,275.

Citroën C4 Cactus: from £13,770Best budget family cars

Proof that family motoring on a shoestring doesn’t have to be dull, the styling of the C4 Cactus is divisive, but undoubtedly quirky. Yet it is also practical, with the trademark Airbumps helping protect the bodywork from errant car doors and shopping trolleys. Drivers benefit from the commanding view created by the raised ride height, although rear passengers have to contend with windows that only pop open.

Stylish utilitarianism is the name of the game with the C4 Cactus, with a standard touchscreen display controlling almost all functions and cutting the dashboard button count down to virtually zero. Entry-level Touch models are rather sparse on kit, but do at least gain electric front windows, DAB radio, and cruise control as standard. Air conditioning isn’t even optional on Touch trim – worth bearing in mind given those pop-out rear windows.

Suzuki Vitara: from £14,999Best budget family cars

Forget the Vitara from the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are no ultra-wide bodykits or rhino-branded spare wheel covers here. Today the Vitara is a family-friendly compact SUV, with a practical interior and a driving experience far more fun than you would ever believe. It might not have the biggest boot, at just 375 litres, but overall space is good for young families.

For a pound less than £15,000, you’ll be getting the Vitara in SZ4 specification. It means you miss out on the touchscreen multimedia system offered higher up the range, but do still get a DAB radio, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, and 16in alloy wheels. SZ4 trim limits engine options to just one: a 1.6-litre petrol with 120hp driving just the front wheels. Best keep your off-roading aspirations to a minimum, then.

Kia Cee’d: from £15,365Best budget family cars

The existing Kia Cee’d has been around since 2012, with an all-new version planned for next year. That doesn’t mean you should discount the current Cee’d though, as it still offers a pleasing blend of value and usability, plus good looks. It’s also impossible to rule out the value of the standard seven-year/100,000-mile warranty if you plan on keeping your Cee’d for the long haul.

Kia doesn’t do optional extras, meaning the trim level you pick is all-or-nothing. Entry-level ‘1’ specification comes with air conditioning, dual projector headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio as standard. There’s not even alloy wheels at this basic specification level, while the standard engine is a naturally-aspirated 1.4-litre petrol with 98hp and the potential for a combined 47.1 mpg. Take solace in the handsome styling, and make use of the luggage space that rivals a far costlier Volkswagen Golf.

Fiat 500X: from £15,430Best budget family cars

Forget ideas of the tiny Fiat 500 city car. The 500X is a compact crossover based on the Jeep Renegade, but undercutting its American rival by almost £3,000. It’s bigger than it looks in photos, meaning cabin space is capable of making adults feel well accommodated, both front and rear. Boot space of 350 litres is nothing to write home about, but retro styling and the potential for 4WD will always create limitations. The interior does at least feel well made, with added Italian design flair.

Shopping at this price point means buying a 500X in ‘City Look’, which means no off-road bravado. The entry-level ‘Pop’ model brings a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or 1.3-litre diesel engines, with the latter adding £1,585 to the price. Standard specification includes air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, and a body-coloured dashboard. Plus, can you really put a price on retro charm?

Vauxhall Astra: from £16,535Best budget family cars

It’s built in Britain and was the 2016 European Car of the Year, fending off challengers like the Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5. Despite all that, the Astra tends not to rate too highly in terms of desirability, which does it something of a disservice. It’s a thoroughly competent family hatchback, provided you can see beyond the inevitable desire for a Volkswagen Golf.

With prices beginning at £16,535, the Astra costs some £1,230 less than the German machine, and is more than £3,000 cheaper than the lowliest Ford Focus. Proof that substantial savings abound if you can park your badge snobbery. The entry-level Design model comes with cruise control, air conditioning, and even Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard.

Skoda Octavia Estate: from £18,395Best budget family cars

If maximum load space is top of your priorities, say hello to the Octavia Estate. Visually it isn’t the most exciting car, and the use of the Octavia for everything from minicabs to ambulances and unmarked police cars certainly gives a it a blue-collar reputation. However, there’s a reason it gets picked for practical roles, and that’s its gigantic 610 litres of boot space with the rear seats up – swelling to a vast 1,780 litres with them folded flat.

With prices from £18,395, there is something of a compromise to pay for all that internal real estate. Basic ‘S’ trim means a 1.0-litre petrol engine with 115hp, but that’s still enough for the Octavia to achieve 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds and return an official 59mpg. You’ll also get air conditioning, an 8in touchscreen multimedia system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, DAB radio and 16in alloy wheels as standard.

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer: from £18,685Best budget family cars

Previous generations of the Zafira have hardly had the greatest image, but at least the Tourer brings genuine good looks to the MPV party. It’s a full seven-seater, with over 1,800 litres of luggage space with the seats down – and is better to drive than you might imagine. If you can ignore any personal hang-ups about the Vauxhall badge, this may be the answer to your family needs.

As with the Astra, entry-level with the Zafira Tourer means Design trim. However, just like with the smaller hatchback, this is still very generous in terms of standard specification. Air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors, 17in alloy wheels, cruise control and a DAB radio are all part of the kit. A 140hp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine is the cheapest offering, capable of 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds with a combined 44mpg.

SEAT Alhambra: from £25,435Best budget family cars

Once upon a time, large MPVs roamed the retail parks and service station car parks of the nation in droves. Today, a big upmarket seven-seater MPV is something you turn to when you need a very particular set of skills. Fortunately, just like Liam Neeson in Taken, the Alhambra is rather good at taking care of your kids, with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

It might be the most expensive car here, with prices starting from £25,435, but that comfortably undercuts key competitors like the Ford Galaxy and Volkswagen Sharan. Even with all seven seats in use, there’s still 267 litres of luggage space, while with the rear seats folded flat it becomes a gargantuan 2,297-litre-capacity van. All versions get alloy wheels, climate control and Bluetooth connectivity as standard.

20 seriously cool family cars

20 seriously cool family carsBeing practical doesn’t necessarily mean having to give up your street cred. When the time comes to transport a growing family, there are ways and means to resist the slide into blandness. These 20 cars prove that you can achieve domestic bliss, yet still gain envious glances in the supermarket car park.

1982 Peugeot 505 Familiale20 seriously cool family cars

Notable for being Peugeot’s last rear-wheel-drive production car, the 505 was produced in various forms between 1978 and 1999. With more than 1.3 million sold, it must have done something right, but the version we’re interested in is the ‘Familiale’. Introduced at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show, this estate offered seating for up to eight thanks to a folding third-row bench. Oh, and the styling was a collaboration with Pininfarina, which clearly ratchets up the cool points.

1984 Renault Espace20 seriously cool family cars

Often cited as being the first real MPV, the original Espace landed in 1984 after a lengthy and tumultuous gestation period. Designed by Chrysler UK to replace the uncool Talbot Rancho, it then ended up in the hands of PSA Peugeot Citroen. Finally, via Matra, the Espace went on sale badged as a Renault. Its fibreglass body was novel, but customers took time to warm to the radical styling. Today, if you can find one, it would make a suitably leftfield family transporter.

1986 Mercedes-Benz W124 E-Class Estate20 seriously cool family cars

Get ready to tick off the typical Mercedes-Benz list of clichés with the W124 E-Class. Yes, this estate is from the time when Mercedes models were associated with ‘vault-like’ build quality and ‘bulletproof’ reliability. Most significant was the option of seven seats, courtesy of a rear-facing third row that folded flat into the boot floor. This combination of space, plus the ability to rack up galactic mileage, means the W124 wagon still commands strong prices.

1957 Chevrolet Nomad20 seriously cool family cars

Proving that family transportation was cool more than six decades ago, the Nomad was related to the iconic Chevy Bel Air. Featuring a two-door shooting brake design with a split two-piece tailgate, the Nomad offered practicality and good looks. For 1957, it gained the option of the wondrously named ‘Super Turbo Fire V8’ with 283hp from this cutting-edge fuel-injected engine. Only sold for three years, you’ll need at least $45,000 (£35,000) to rock this retro-cool look.

1959 Ford Country Squire20 seriously cool family cars

Proving that car manufacturers were doing ‘lifestyle’ photoshoots long before the Lycra-clad 1990s, it’s the 1959 Ford Country Squire. This particular car featured push-button lifestyle accessories, with a roof-mounted boat that flipped over to reveal a tent beneath. There was even an electric fridge in the boot. The Country Squire soldiered on as part of the Ford range until 1990 when America fell out of love with the station wagon. In case you’re wondering, the woodgrain trim was fake – and had been since 1953.

1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer20 seriously cool family cars

Another car guilty of the fake veneer treatment was one that can legitimately claim to be the first premium SUV. Introduced in 1963 by the Kaiser Jeep Corporation, the Wagoneer had an upmarket interior that set it apart from other 4×4 models at the time. By 1991, and under the control of Chrysler, the last few Grand Wagoneers were even more luxurious and better equipped. Accordingly, they attract premium prices from collectors.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk20 seriously cool family cars

Jeep hasn’t forgotten how to produce cool family machines since the Wagoneer, although the brand-new Trackhawk is desirable for slightly different reasons. Taking the 707hp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat and mating it to a 4WD system means 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds. Top speed is an equally ridiculous 180mph.Plus, you can set the suspension and gearbox to ‘Track mode’ should you want to get impress at the race circuit. Sick bags don’t appear on the options list, but at least the leather upholstery will be wipe-clean.

1998 Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon20 seriously cool family cars

Cool doesn’t necessarily mean fast or stylish. In fact, for family transport, automotive chic can be as simple as dependability in the most extreme situations. With a lineage that stretches back to 1951, the Land Cruiser has built a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. Just ask Land Rover what it did for their export sales in places like Australia. The J100 Amazon, introduced in 1998, could be had with a 4.7-litre V8 engine, and offers a sense of quiet confidence when tackling the school run.

2000 Volkswagen Sharan 2.8 VR620 seriously cool family cars

Much like this decade has been defined by the SUV, the 1990s were the era of the MPV. Offerings like the Sharan – and its Ford Galaxy/SEAT Alhambra sisters – were the answer to almost every family problem. Even the need to drive a seven-seater MPV, with a 2.8-litre 201hp narrow-angle V6 engine, was covered. Picking the VR6 still only meant 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, but fuel economy dropped to a faintly ridiculous 22mpg. A small price to pay for transporting your kids with a six-cylinder soundtrack?

2001 Vauxhall Zafira GSi20 seriously cool family cars

The first-generation Zafira suffers from something of an image problem, perhaps not helped by Vauxhall’s TV adverts with Griff Rhys Jones. But in 2001, Vauxhall launched the sporty GSi version, with a 189hp turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from the Astra. A 0-60mph sprint of 7.5 seconds, combined with relatively subtle styling, make this something of a Q-car. If you can cope with the badge snobbery…

2006 SEAT Altea FR TFSI20 seriously cool family cars

Rarer and even more random than the Zafira, the Altea FR TFSI offers a fleeting chance that buying a compact MPV doesn’t mean giving up completely. Not only does it feature styling by Walter de Silva – he of Alfa Romeo 156 fame – but the FR had the option of a 197hp 2.0-litre TFSI engine. That’s the very same engine that powered the Mk5 Golf GTI, to much acclaim from journalists and enthusiasts alike. FR spec also means sports suspension, meaning this Altea handles better than you might imagine.

2006 Ford S-Max 2.5 Titanium20 seriously cool family cars

However, the title of ultimate performance MPV must go to the original Ford S-Max. Using the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the Focus ST, its 216hp output means 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds and top speed of 143mph. Add a five-cylinder warble, seven seats and impressive handling, and the S-Max becomes quite a desirable package. It also proved popular with numerous police forces, adding an extra layer of coolness.

1995 Volvo 850 T-5R

20 seriously cool family cars

Also beloved of the constabulary, the 850 T-5R was a worrying presence in the rear-view mirror of many motorway drivers. Created as Volvo went through a period of reinvention, the T-5R was a limited edition that used a 245hp 2.3-litre turbocharged engine. Although offered in estate and saloon body styles, the wagon was infinitely cooler – not least because of the 850 estate campaigned in the British Touring Car Championship.

2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX Wagon20 seriously cool family cars

Not officially sold outside of Japan, and created in limited numbers, the Evo IX Wagon is an opportunity to transport your family in a unique machine. Only 2,500 were built, melding the Evo IX saloon chassis to bodywork from the regular Lancer estate, with extensive additional welding and strengthening. Power was unchanged at 276hp, as was the full-time 4WD system with active centre differential. Tracking down an import might not be easy, but will be worth it.

2006 Audi B7 RS4 Avant20 seriously cool family cars

Flared wheelarches, Audi build quality and a 4.2-litre V8 engine that also saw service in the original R8 supercar. Not a bad place to start for a five-door estate, and such qualities made the RS4 a genuine challenger to the BMW M3. A rear-biased Quattro drivetrain offered slip and security in equal measure, while 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds is more than fast enough for a family wagon.

2007 BMW E60 M5 Touring20 seriously cool family cars

In the early 2000s, BMW established a reputation for building the most powerful V10 engines in Formula 1. Although they never took a World Championship against a dominant Ferrari team, BMW still won plaudits for its 10-cylinder powerplant. Seeking to capitalise on this, it equipped the E60 M5 with a 5.0-litre V10 producing 500hp. A semi-automatic gearbox allowed drivers to live out their inner Juan Pablo Montoya fantasies, with launch control offering lightning-fast getaways from a standing start. Today it looks almost subtle but, to those in the know, this is an achingly cool machine.

2017 SEAT Leon ST Cupra 30020 seriously cool family cars

Despite the love for crossovers and SUVs, compact estate cars have seen a renaissance in recent years. The SEAT Leon ST has proven to be very popular, not least because of striking good looks, strong equipment levels and decent value. Top of the tree is the Cupra 300, which makes, as the name suggests, 300hp from its 2.0-litre turbo engine. Consider the Cupra 300 a cut-price version of the Golf R Estate and it makes a surprising amount of sense, with even the option of 4WD on the cards.

2004 Subaru Forester STi20 seriously cool family cars

If 4WD really is a necessity for your family needs, how about another import-only Japanese creation? With the 2.5-litre flat-four boxer engine from the Impreza WRX STi, this second-generation Forester made 265hp. That’s good enough for 0-62mph in around 5.0 seconds, with Brembo brakes and tuned suspension to keep everything in check. Fuel economy might not be family-friendly, at 25mpg or less, but just remind yourself that you’re buying a practical estate with rally pedigree.

2016 Audi RS Q3 Performance20 seriously cool family cars

Should you want retro-rally ancestry in your family car, the RS Q3 could be the choice for you. The five-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds like those used in the wild Group B Quattro rally cars of the 1980s, even if the RS Q3 has to make to do with only 362hp. Performance specification brings cool-looking titanium alloy wheels and blue Alcantara seats. But ultimately you’re buying it for the noise made by the giant oval tailpipe.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI five-door20 seriously cool family cars

If a hot hatch is meant to be all things to all people, the Golf GTI is surely the ultimate expression of that. It’s classless yet classy, desirable but affordable, and as practical as a regular Golf hatchback. Does family motoring get cooler than this? The latest GTI is an absolute corker, with 230hp on tap from its 2.0-litre turbo motor. Make sure you keep it five-door and you’ll have a car that’s as usable as any normal family hatchback, but with a badge that truly means something.