The Joy of Looking for a Family Car

Have you ever spent time looking for a family car? CATHERINE LAWLER looks at some options and test drives the Peugeot 308 hatchback, with her two children along for the ride.

“Some things from our previous lives (before children) are harder to let go of than others. Gone are the spontaneous nights out and lazy Sunday mornings. Not to mention the disposable income. Remember that?

However, don’t think you need to give up completely when it comes to your car. Yes you need 4 doors (I’ve tried putting child seats in the back of a two-door car and it’s not viable). And yes, it needs to be cheap to run. No one likes frequent visits to the petrol station.

But you don’t necessarily need a big ‘people carrier’ (words that might fill you with dread). There are some great family cars out there that fall into this category, such as the SEAT Alhambra with its handy sliding doors or the big Volkswagen Touran, but the Peugeot 308 hatchback is my pick of the season. It’s a good looking motor that’s really comfy inside but with masses of boot space to cater for all of the paraphernalia that comes with children.

I also like the fact I can park easily without worrying about being able to open the doors wide enough for the children to get out or feel like I’m driving round in a beast.

On to more practical stuff – it costs around £23,000 and petrol engines are available but I chose the 1.6 diesel. I also opted for an automatic – when your kids are arguing in the back and the weather’s bad, changing gear is one less thing to think about.

The drive is smooth and its suspension soaks up bumps nicely and let’s face it, there’s plenty of those on roads across Cheshire.

Should you get the chance, it has a top speed of 122mph (I’m told). Due to low C02 emissions, this car is exempt of tax, and, with almost 80 miles to the gallon, the economy box gets a big tick too.

And finally, the children’s verdicts. Sam, 3, likes the new car and has already marked his territory with raisins, crisps and muddy wellies. Oliver, 6, wants to know why the roof doesn’t come down (at the time of writing, it is about 5 degrees and raining). Can’t please everyone!”