Welcome to our new Q&A series How to Car – From those ‘In the Know’, I am James Batchelor and I am here to answer your questions on ‘Finding the right car for you’.
– Need some help finding a car that fits your exact needs and lifestyle?
– A car that covers everything on your ‘must have’ list?
– Don’t know where to start and some help is what you need?
Finding the right car for you – answers:
Q: I have a small family (and therefore 2 car seats), a long commute to work and a hobby which might mean a bit of off roading. Could you recommend a car for such a lifestyle? I don’t want a big car and it has to be economical, but one with plenty of space for children and sports.
A: A small to mid-sized SUV would be my choice purely on account of flexibility. Not all SUVs have four-wheel drive – or all-wheel drive as it’s sometimes called – so in this case look for an SUV that has it and a decent ride height. If your hobbies regularly take you off-road, then I’d recommend fitting a set of all-season tyres as no matter how good a car’s four-wheel drive system is it’ll be useless in slippery, difficult terrain with the wrong tyres.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a solid choice as it has strong, dependable engines and a roomy interior finished in quality materials. The four-wheel drive models are badged ‘4Motion’ and there’s even an Allspace model if you need more… errr… space. If you want to make your commute a little more thrilling then the Mazda CX-5 is a good choice as it’s great fun to drive. Factor in a well-made interior, good looks and reliable engines (that can come with all-wheel drive), the CX-5 is a great option.
My recommendation, however, would be the Volvo XC40. It’s a brilliant all-rounder as it’s comfortable, easy to drive and has plenty of useful tech on board. The XC40 also comes with a wide range of engines; some with all-wheel drive, and there’s even a plug-in hybrid model should you want one. There’s plenty of room for two child seats, and the boxy dimensions means there’s plenty of space inside. The boot is large, too, and most models get a clever boot divider which is pretty handy. Lastly, it’s a great looking SUV so you shouldn’t have any problems when the time come to sell it as it’s a desirable used car.
Q: I am looking for a ‘family’ car which will be great for loading the children and everything in for holidays in the UK, with lots of space. I am thinking of either an SUV or an Estate. What is the real difference between the two and what would you recommend?
A: An estate car is essentially a saloon car with a squarer, taller rear-end so you can fit lots of stuff in the boot. An SUV is quite often just a large hatchback but with a higher ride height and sometimes four-wheel drive. Don’t discount estate cars thinking they’re smaller than SUVs as can have just as much space inside as an SUV, and sometimes they’re even bigger.
A good example is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate. It has a massive boot that’s perfect for carrying prams and holiday paraphernalia, and it’s really comfortable making it perfect for long family holidays. A wide engine range (from fuel-sipping diesels, powerful petrols and efficient plug-in hybrids) and classy looks make it an ideal family estate car.
If you want practicality and comfort but in a higher riding package then the Volvo XC60 is a good choice. Smart looks and a well-made interior that’s brimming with technology make it a very desirable family SUV.
However, if your budget can’t quite stretch to the super cool Swede, I’d recommend going for the Skoda Kodiaq. It very much combines all the good aspects of an estate car (long roof and big boot) with a mid-sized SUV (good ride height) in a great, value-for-money package. The Kodiaq comes with the choice of five or seven seats, it’s very spacious inside, easy and comfortable to drive and that higher ride height makes loading children that little bit easier.
Q: We are looking for an eco-friendly family car which has room for children but also for commuting. Can you recommend an electric vehicle that would fit the bill? It needs to have a decent range so that UK family holidays aren’t a challenge when it comes to charging!
A: The electric car market is rapidly changing and it won’t be too long until charging and range problems become a thing of the past. But, for now, these can be obstacles for many families.
They don’t have to be, though. The Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market electric car and it’s been the benchmark for the last 10 years – in fact, the Leaf is a perfect example of how far electric cars have come in the last decade.
The current model is a solid choice for families wanting to embrace electric motoring. It’s comfortable, roomy and if you go for the big battery 64kWh model, you get up to 239 miles on a full charge. Even in cold weather you should get at least 200 miles, meaning it’s good as a long-distance car.
The Leaf is starting to feel a little old, though, and that’s why I’d recommend the Kia e-Niro. This car was so popular when Kia launched it in 2019, Kia sold out of them in a matter of weeks and has only recently managed to get enough supply.
The e-Niro a great electric family car with a very realistic 230-mile range if you go for the 64kWh battery model. It has a well-made and practical interior, it’s comfortable and very easy to drive and has a seven-year warranty – no wonder why it’s been a sell-out star. That warranty is important too because even the oldest e-Niro will still have three years of cover should anything go wrong, which is unlikely as Kias are some of the most reliable cars on the road. And, when you come to sell, you should have no problems getting rid of it because the Kia e-Niro is just as popular with used car buyers.
James has been a motoring journalist for over 10 years and cut his teeth on the motor trade title Car Dealer Magazine, rising from tea boy to Editor. Since then he had a long spell at Britain’s best-selling weekly car magazine, Auto Express, and its sister title Carbuyer, first as News Editor and latterly as Editor-at-Large and Head of Motoring Video. During this time, he was also the face of Carbuyer on its hugely popular YouTube channel and regularly appeared on television and radio as a motoring expert. He’s now freelance and writes for a number of leading automotive titles, including Motors.co.uk, and produces low-rent videos on his YouTube channel. When not writing or driving, he’s scouring the classifieds for cars he doesn’t need.
April 12, 2021