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It’s not an easy balance; a car that is practical and spacious, cheap to run, packed with safety gear and not bad looking to boot. So what are the best cars for mums? What will be as stylish at the school gates as it is sensible and useful when transporting kids and their friends to the cinema?
The choice for families has never been greater. Love them or hate them, MPVs changed the face of family motoring forever when they arrived in the UK during the late eighties. Add 4X4 vehicles into the mix and families are no longer presented with a boring choice between saloon and estate.
Fast forward a few years and you can’t go into a car dealership without tripping over the latest ‘crossover’ – all of which are firmly aimed at providing a more attractive option for mums, as well as being cars that most dads would be happy to get behind the wheel of.
Gone are the boxy van-like MPVs of old, replaced by a new wave of vehicle that mix rugged 4X4 styling with greater practicality.
So what are some of the best options out there for those who don’t just want to drive a mum’s taxi?
Winner of What Car? Crossover of the Year in 2010 and again this year, the 3008 has been a real success for the French manufacturer. Able to swallow the kids and all their gear, the 3008 has a split tailgate and a three stage boot that allows you to partition the load area in two. A turbocharged 1.6 petrol engine that returns nearly 39 mpg is considered to be the range’s best.
With its distinctive ‘shark’ nose the 3008 is no slouch in the looks department either.
Unusual looking to some and stylish to others, the Citroen Picasso is a market leader in the compact MPV market. A range of engines and specs mean it is affordable on most budgets and split, sliding rear seats mean seating can be configured in a number of ways and boot space altered to fit unusual loads.
Decent ride and handling mean that the Picasso is as happy in the city as it is on windy country roads.
A traditional MPV in looks and practicality, the Zafira has been a favourite for some time among UK families. The seven-seater is cheap to run and versatile enough to meet the needs of most mums.
The 1.7 litre diesel has the torque required to get the Zafira moving and it is cheap to own and run, as well as easily swallowing family, friends and everything that goes along with them
Great to look at and fun to drive, the S-Max is not short of admirers. Packed with standard kit that includes dual zone air con and front and rear parking sensors, the S-Max offers great value.
A strong range of engines is slanted towards diesel power plants – which suit the S-Max much better. A real pleasure to drive, it also has seven seats and a generous boot.
Probably best described as a ‘soft-roader’, the Nissan Qashqai has cute 4X4 looks that will appeal to most. The Qashqai +2 also provides seven-seater practicality.
Well-equipped, with Bluetooth connectivity in even the base model, the Qashqai is competitively priced and has a decent range of engines.
Larger-engined models are also offered with optional 4-wheel drive.