Best cars for small families

From a small but perfectly formed estate car to a premium coupe, here are eight cars that are great for small families

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
May 30, 2020

With a baby or a toddler in tow, you’re going to need a bigger car, right? Well, yes and no. While something with a big boot and a spacious cabin is essential, a supersize car isn’t really required unles you have a brace of long-legged adolescents demanding a little more legroom.

This is roughly the time when they’ll hit their teenage years, so a lack of legroom will give them something else to complain about. In the meantime, a smaller but practical car will be cheaper to buy and run, easier to park and manouevre and potentially less expensive to maintain.

That is why we’ve put together a list of eight cars that are great for small but growing families. We’ve included everything from a small estate car to a mini MPV, along with a couple of wildcards at the end - so take your pick.

Remember, these cars could be delivered to your door with a 14-day money back guarantee - giving you one less thing to worry about and more time to focus on the family. You’re just five to 10 working days from having your next car delivered to your door.

1. Skoda Fabia Estate

Used Skoda Fabia Estate deals from £5,790
Monthly finance from £116

The Skoda Fabia Estate is like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That’s not to say that you’ll be greeted by a faun when you open the door, it’s just that it’s far bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

Its 530-litre boot is large enough for a buggy, a travel cot and a few suitcases, but because the Fabia Estate is only 265mm longer than the hatchback, it’s just as easy to drive and park.

We’d avoid the entry-level S, because it’s a bit low on kit, but SE trim features air-conditioning, a 6.5-inch touchscreen media system, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and an umbrella. Other models offer even more equipment, while a panoramic sunroof and a variable height boot floor are two options you won’t find on the hatchback.

Best of all, four-year PCP deals start from around £110 per month. Little wonder the Fabia Estate is one of our favourite cars for little ones. Lots of space for not much money.

SKODA FABIA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Note

Used Nissan Note deals from £4,990
Monthly finance from £101

Although it’s no longer possible to buy a new Nissan Note, there’s plenty of choice with used models on the BuyaCar website. With prices starting at less than £6,000, you won’t find a more practical supermini for less money.

If you’re not won over by the slightly drab exterior, fear not, because behind the bland mask likes a car with hidden talents. The Note is slightly longer than a Ford Fiesta, but there’s enough room inside for a family of four, with space that would shame a car from the class above.

The tall stance means you won’t bang your head when you’re loading a car seat - don’t worry, we’ve all done it - while the rear seats slide backwards or forwards depending on whether you want more rear legroom or a bigger boot. Think of the Nissan Note as the extra large jumper you’ll buy for your child to grow into.

NISSAN NOTE BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Skoda Kamiq

Used Skoda Kamiq deals from £15,795
Monthly finance from £211

Wait, what? Another Skoda? Well, yes, and to be honest, we could have filled this entire feature with cars wearing a Skoda badge. It’s like the company is in tune with the needs of families. We could say that Skoda is your Czech mate, but we won’t.

Even the entry-level Kamiq S model features air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen media system, a digital radio and Isofix points for the outer back seats allowing you to safely mount childseats. There’s no real reason to upgrade to a higher trim level if you're strapped for cash, although some of the features on the more expensive versions might be desirable for just a small monthly payment increase over the course of a four-year PCP finance deal.

For example, an electrically operated boot is a £400 option on the SE, SE L and Monte Carlo models. Having this could make things easier when your hands are full of baby paraphernalia. You can also add folding tables and leatherette protection to the back of the front seats. These are separate options, but the link is obvious. Have you ever tried to remove chocolate milkshake from a car seat?

SKODA KAMIQ BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Honda HR-V

Used Honda HR-V deals from £10,470
Monthly finance from £137

The Honda HR-V is like that really talented child at school who doesn’t get the recognition they deserve. Remember that point about not needing a larger car for a while? The HR-V is a good case in point.

Although it might be difficult to picture the space provided by a 470-litre boot, the point is rammed home by the fact that this is 18 litres more than you’ll find in the Nissan Qashqai - a larger car from the class above.

This luggage capacity doesn’t come at the expense of rear space, with the back seats offering plenty of room for your little ones. You could buy the 1.6-litre diesel to enjoy the impressive fuel economy and relaxed performance. However, if you’re feeling a bit rebellious, the 1.5-litre petrol in the Sport version offers a substantial 182hp. It’s the HR-V for chasing down hot hatchbacks (when the kids aren’t in the car, obviously).

HONDA HR-V BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Used Mercedes B-Class deals from £8,000
Monthly finance from £138

We understand why you’d fancy a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It has the right badge on the grille, it’s well-built and it boasts one of the nicest interiors in its class. But to use some Chris Tarrant wisdom, we don’t want to give you that. Instead, have you considered the B-Class?

It’s a taller and more practical version of the A-Class, with the same clever tech and more interior space. There’s loads of headroom for you in the front, while the high roof will make it easier to strap your children into their car seats. You can even add a pair of 10-inch widescreen displays to create one of the most eye-catching dashboards on the planet. Buy new and you'll have to pay extra for these, but hunt down a used version with them and they should cost you barely anything extra.

You also get MBUX, which stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. This is a clever voice activation system for programming kit like the sat-nav, activated by the keywords 'Hey Mercedes', and it works in a similar way to Siri or Alexa. If you tell it you’re cold, it’ll adjust the temperature. We do wonder what happens if the kids shout out 'Are we nearly there yet?', though.

MERCEDES B-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Touran

Used VW Touran deals from £9,600
Monthly finance from £182

We’re not going to lie - the Touran is arguably the least exciting Volkswagen you can buy. It’s the beige slippers of the range. But just as there will be occasions when you appreciate the easy comfort of the slippers, there will be times when you appreciate the practicality of the Volkswagen Touran.

It’s one of the most popular small people carriers in Europe, so if it’s good enough for the Schmidts in Germany and the Garcias in Spain, it’s good enough for the Joneses. Thanks to its high roofline, there’s plenty of headroom throughout the car, plus loads of legroom in the front and back.

There’s also a third row of seats, which are great for children but less suited to adults. With all seven seats in use, there’s very little luggage space, but at least you have the option to carry more people. You can also task your children with finding all 37 storage cubbies hidden throughout the cabin if they get restless on a road trip.

VOLKSWAGEN TOURAN BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Suzuki Baleno

Used Suzuki Baleno deals from £5,690
Monthly finance from £107

The Suzuki Baleno is our first wildcard. It was on sale for just three years, and because of its rather anonymous styling, you’d be forgiven for hardly noticing it. But with BuyaCar prices starting from less than £6,000 - or around £100 per month - it’s certainly worth a look.

It’s best to think of it as a plus-size supermini, with a larger boot than you’ll find in the Ford Focus. The rear doors open wide to make it easier to load your children into their car seats, and there’s some additional storage space beneath the boot floor.

The SZ-T and SZ-5 models offer a generous level of equipment, while the 1.0-litre Boosterjet petrol engine gives the Baleno a surprising turn of pace. It’s also rather efficient, with the potential to deliver 62.7mpg. Throw into the mix Suzuki’s reputation for reliability and you’ll see why we’ve included the Baleno on our list of cars for small families.

SUZUKI BALENO BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Used BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe deals from £12,990
Monthly finance from £186

Our second wildcard is the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. If you thought you couldn’t afford a BMW, think again, because PCP finance deals start at less than £200 per month. Not bad for a car that cost £35,000 to £50,000 when new.

We won’t get into the debate about whether or not it’s a true 'coupe' - since coupes are sleek and traditionally have two doors, not four plus a hatchback - not least because you probably don’t care. What matters is that the huge tailgate creates a large opening to the boot, which makes loading and unloading a pushchair a doddle. And - in our eyes at least - it looks damn good.

Despite the sloping roofline there’s plenty of headroom in the back, and the seats split three ways to improve the flexibility - depending on how much luggage/people you're carting around.

We’ve included the 4 Series Gran Coupe to highlight the fact that you don’t need to buy an SUV when you have small children; why fly economy when you can travel premium class? Nobody needs to know that you pay just £200 per month for the privilege.

BMW 4 SERIES GRAN COUPE BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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