Cheapest family cars

John Evans
Oct 31, 2018
Citroen C4 Cactus moving

Five cheap used family cars
Such is the pace of change and the sheer quantity of used examples that if you’re looking for a bargain, you can be sure of finding one in the family car class.
Facelifts and new model launches are a frequent occurrence, helping to drive down prices of used cars. Meanwhile, fleets – big users of models such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra – keep the market supplied with well-maintained cast-offs.
It all adds up to good news for the bargain-hunting used car buyer. Fill your boots.
Ford Focus Zetec 1.0 Ecoboost 125
The Ford Focus is the benchmark by which other family cars are judged. It’s that good and in popular Zetec trim makes an excellent buy.
The 1.0-litre petrol engine is the top choice for petrol drivers but it does need a careful right foot if you’re not to blow its official economy figures wide open. A 2014-reg 1.0 Ecoboost 125 with 35,000 miles costs around £7,650. If you’re a high-mileage driver, consider a same-age 1.6 TDCi for around the same price but beware: being only Euro 5 emissions compliant means it will attract inner-city clean-air charges, where they’re imposed.
Vauxhall 1.6 SRi 5dr
The Astra has always played second fiddle to the Ford Focus, being not quite as much fun to drive and really, a little drab inside and out. However, these shortcomings are reflected in lower prices, meaning that alongside a Focus, an Astra can look spectacular value for money.
SRi trim is popular since it brings smart alloy wheels, cruise control and sporty details including alloy tailpipes that help give the model a welcome lift. A 2014-reg 1.6 SRi with 40,000 miles costs from £6,500.

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Feel
Really, the Cactus should be among our cheapest SUVs selection but it’s too good a family car to ignore here. Too good? It’s very comfortable and its estate-like body promises good load carrying potential. Sadly, a high boot lip and rear seats that only fold as one rather than split dent its appeal in this respect but otherwise, it’s a useful family holdall.
The 1.2 Pure Tech petrol engine is economical, although if your driving involves more than the occasional long journey, avoid the cheapest 82hp version. Talking of cheapness, with prices for a 2015 1.2 Pure Tech Feel with 45,000 miles starting at around £7,300, the Cactus certainly deserves its place here.
Renault Megane 1.5 dCi Dynamique TomTom 5dr
Stylish it is not but with the excellent 1.5 diesel engine fitted, the Renault Megane is, as you’d expect, economical. The model is very well equipped in Dymanique trim, too; more so with the optional TomTom sat nav.
Staying with the positives, the boot is a decent size, and the rear seats fold almost flat. The suspension is very comfortable and soaks up bumps and potholes with ease.
A Ford Focus is more fun to drive and a Vauxhall Astra better value. Even so, £6,900 for a 2015-reg Megane 1.5 dCi Dynamique TomTom with 50,000 miles is a tempting proposition.

Peugeot 308 1.6 HDI Active
The 308 was meant to be Peugeot’s answer to the VW Golf: a premium car with handsome looks and, promised Peugeot, better build quality than ever before. It’s hard to dispute those claims. What’s more, the 308 is a quiet and refined car that is fun to drive thanks to direct steering and good body control in corners.
Where it falls down is in a slightly cramped rear interior. What it loses there, though, it gains in the form of a roomy and practical boot.
What’s more, it’s great value for money. For example, prices for a 2014 308 1.6 HDI Active with 38,000 miles start at just £6,990.

Five cheap new family cars
The family car class is where the new car war is at its fiercest, which is fine by us since it means buyers benefit from better models with each passing year.
Interior space is a crucial requirement in this class and some cars do better in this respect than others. A standout model here is the Nissan Pulsar.
There are huge price variations in our short list with as much as £4,650 separating the cheapest from the most expensive cars. You pays your money, you makes your choice.
Nissan Pulsar 1.2 DiG-T 115 Visia
List price £13,280
Going head to head with the Fiat Tipo, below, is this: the Nissan Pulsar. Like the Tipo, it’s astonishing value for money but where it stands apart from the Italian is in its enormous rear interior. Three large teenagers could sit quite comfortably back there.
Otherwise, it’s quite an ordinary car with dull steering and a plasticky interior. On the other hand, every model has radar-controlled city braking which helps bring down insurance premiums. If you’re looking for a safe and roomy car at a bargain price, you’ve just found it.
Fiat Tipo Easy 1.4
List price £13,390
It’s not the most obvious choice but there’s no arguing with the Tipo’s low price. It’s the standout feature of this model but there are others including a roomy interior and good driving manners.
Obviously some things suffer. Material quality is nowhere near as good as a Golf’s (few rivals can hold a candle to the VW), the ride is a bit jiggly and that basic 1.4-litre petrol is, well, basic.
On the flipside, the interior is roomy, although headroom in the back is in short supply, while even the basic Easy has Bluetooth, a digital radio and air con. On top of that, the boot is a luggage-swallowing 440 litres.

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 Pure Tech 110hp Feel
List price £17,270
With the new C3 Aircross taking the role of SUV in Citroen’s line-up, the car maker has relaunched the C4 Cactus as a super-comfy hatchback; a quirky, value-for-money alternative to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
There are just two trim levels, Feel and Flair but a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines. Now that diesels are falling out of favour, the 1.2 110hp Pure Tech petrol is a powerful and economical alternative.
Skoda Octavia S 1.0 TSI 115
List price £17,700
Skodas are no longer quite the bargain they were but as the old resistance to the brand evaporates, perhaps that’s only to be expected. They’re certainly only a few notches down from VW in terms of perceived quality, while the brand actually appears to perform better in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys.
The Octavia is an old friend of families; a comfortable car that is unique in somehow straddling the VW Golf and Passat classes in terms of interior space. There’s plenty of room in the rear seats for a trio of hulking teenagers while the boot is easily capable of taking everyone’s holiday luggage. So filled, however, you’d be advised to check out one of the more powerful petrol or diesel engines.
Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Style
List price £17,930
There are better equipped cars with longer warranties, such as the Kia Cee’d, but this cheapest new-model Focus is worth some sacrifices, such is the quality of its driving experience and all-round competence.
It’s just slightly more expensive than the Octavia but if interior space is not top of your list, it’s worth the extra. It’s a shame it’s in fleet-friendly Style trim but you do get alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles, air conditioning and a digital radio.
The 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is a little down on power but you can't have everything and given a light right foot, it’s reasonably economical.

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