Buying a family car doesn't mean opting for the mundane. As these options show, functional can also be fast...
1 - Skoda Octavia vRS (2004-2013)
Under the skin of the Skoda Octavia vRS lurks some of the running gear of the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI, such as a 197bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine.
That enables the vRS to reach 149mph and dispatch 0-62mph in 7.3sec. Like the Golf, it is eager to please in the corners, too, with precise handling and a compliant ride.
Inside, the comfortable and subtly sporting interior equalled the Golf’s for quality and bettered it for practicality, with plenty of room for the family in saloon or estate guise.Problems are few, although an unmodified car is generally a safer bet.
Watch out for accident damage and check that cambelts have been changed on schedule.
2 - Subaru Legacy 3.0 R Spec B (2004-2009)
The 241bhp 3.0-litre engine of this unassuming-looking Legacy has more than just power on its side: its flat six configuration is perfectly balanced and enables a low centre of gravity.
It has full-time four-wheel drive, too, and Bilstein dampers, so the Spec B can be hustled along surprisingly quickly. Top speed in the manual version is 151mph and it can hit 62mph from rest in 6.6sec.
This is no brash rally car, though; rather, it’s a suave and able ground-coverer. The exterior is understated and the roomy interior is comfortable, well equipped and lavishly leathered.
It’s beautifully built, too, so there’s not a lot to worry about, apart from pricey parts and large fuel bills.