Want a family car that is both practical and exciting? Motoring journalist Rob Griffin picks out six of the best.
The arrival of a family usually signals the end of a person’s dalliance with exotic machinery, with the two-seater sports car being replaced by the dreaded people carrier.
The good news is that there are plenty of vehicles that are perfect for the school run and shopping trips, but can also provide a passport to fun on the weekends.
What can be better than chucking bikes, balls and assorted paraphernalia in the back of a truck and heading out into the countryside?
The L200 is a great looking, durable beast that works just as well as a daily driver as it does off-road.
With the option of two-wheel drive for driving round town and four-wheel drive on loose conditions or when you venture off the beaten path, the L200 has a good combination of style, power and convenience.
Great condition 10-year-old models can still be picked up for less than £5,000.
The argument you can use to your partner is simple: it’s got five seats so is the perfect family car. However, it also provides seat-of-your-pants excitement, especially if you opt for one of the WRX versions that pay tribute to the company’s rallying heritage.
The great news is that because Imprezas have been around for more than two decades there are plenty of second-hand models from which to choose. Even a couple of grand will be enough.
Ford Focus ST Estate
The holy grail for any family looking for something with a bit of bite is a stylish car with excellent performance and plenty of room inside.
In many ways the Ford Focus ST Estate is the perfect answer. It looks great, comes with enough space in the boot for days out, yet is also capable of a scorching turn of speed.
Depending on the specification, expect to pay around the £25,000 mark out of the showroom.
Looking like a normal mini that has been popping steroids and working out, the Countryman boasts elevated ground clearance and an optional all-wheel drive system, meaning it can take you pretty much anywhere.
Being a five-seater, it can conveniently transport your little darlings on the school run, as well as providing plenty of space on longer journeys.
The other attractive quality is the price, with brand new machines available from a relatively modest £17,000.
I make no apology for including two Fords on this list. While the aforementioned ST Estate wins on the performance stakes, the S-Max is one of the most stylish and practical cars to have carried that familiar badge.
It’s a delight to drive - being quick and responsive – and yet also has a lot of room in the cabin. It is also capable of transporting up to seven, even if the two seats at the very back will be a squeeze for all but the smallest of adults.
Audi RS6 Avant
Okay, you’ll need about £78,000 but if you’ve got the money then this is an awesome answer to the dilemma faced by families.
While the original RS6 helped Audi’s reputation for performance machines when it arrived in 2002, this latest incarnation is powerful, stylish and has plenty of room.
Families can even buy Audi-branded baby seats, as well as roof storage bars and load liners to keep their beloved machine in as close to showroom condition as is possible with youngsters strapped in the back.