Having to change from an interesting coupé to something rather more practical because of the arrival of a new member of the family (up from two to three plus) isn’t uncommon. Extra doors certainly help when you have children, as does a bigger boot. It was nice, then, to be invited to jump into such a scenario, wherein a BMW 3 Series Coupé was due to be replaced by something more SUV-shaped and with an automatic gearbox on a budget of up to £10k.
I’m not against SUVs, but there are perfectly serviceable and more economical alternatives that will work hard to keep a growing family safe and happy. Estate cars, as I constantly attest, are great.
The Toyota Auris Touring Sports is a compact load-lugger that’s worth considering, even though it has some of the longest model names possibly ever. I came upon a 2014 1.8 VVT-h HSD Excel e-CVT that, as the advert made clear, is perfect for the ambitious private hire operative. This one has 64,000 miles and comes with cruise control, a reversing camera, Bluetooth and easy-to-wipe, half-leather seats. Yes, it’s the top-spec trim yet could be yours for £9500.
Perhaps the Auris estate is a bit too conventional, even boring, or you’re worried about being mistaken for an Uber. If so, here’s another taxi-rank favourite, except that the version I saw looks rather more purposeful.
The Skoda Octavia Estate is a properly spacious car that’s great to drive. I was therefore pleased to spot a 2014 2.0 TDI CR Black Edition DSG that was up for £9000 with a substantial 85,000 miles. I thought it looked pretty moody and up for plenty of fun family action. Its colour might prove a pain to keep clean, but it was otherwise really nice.
If the whole concept of a good old-fashioned estate is acceptable to you, a great-big-value Ford Mondeo Estate could be the answer. A 2015 2.0 TDCI Titanium Powershift with 54,000 miles for £9000 proves that you can get an awful lot of Mondeo for the money in the top-rung specification.
Then again, we were originally asked to find an SUV, so perhaps we should cave in and pick the nation’s long-time favourite vehicle. That would be the Nissan Qashqai. I came across a 2013 1.6 petrol 360 CVT with just 37,000 miles for only £9300. You sit high, there’s no four-wheel drive to go pointlessly unused and 360 trim is rather handsomely equipped.
It needs to be remembered that babies are actually quite portable things. Provided that you can stick yours in a safe child seat for the time being, you will have a good few months’ grace as you finalise your first family vehicle. Don’t get that decision wrong, though, or you’ll have years to regret it, because children are expensive to run.