Car Choice: The family's growing and it's time to give up the runaround

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Jamini Nair owns a 2006 Mini Cooper 1.6 which she really loves. However, her family is growing – Jamini's second child is on the way – and she is looking for a car with more seats. She is thinking of getting a people carrier, and is looking at something like a seven seater. Luckily she has a huge budget of £27,000, so what would we recommend?

A car for the head

It seems ambitious to go from a relatively small two-door car to a full-blown people carrier, but children do come with an awful lot of baggage. So more space will definitely be needed. I do think that a full people carrier could be a model too far – better to go for a compact model where the seats completely fold away. It would be good if the vehicle were as nice to drive as the Mini. With that in mind the most obvious choice is going to be the Ford S-Max which is pretty big, but rather more car-like than a lot of people carriers. The rearmost sixth and seventh seat fold out of the floor and there is a lot of room for luggage, and tons of space for two or three child seats. The S-Max does not drive or seem like other carriers, it does not have a high seating position and this could be something that Jamini appreciates. Most of all, the S-Max is fun to drive with a sharpness that should remind Jamini of her Mini. She could go for the top specification Titanium and still be comfortably below budget, especially as discounts are available.

A car for the heart

The Mazda 5 is an impressive vehicle, not least because it doesn't look like a van, and like the S-Max, it's nice to drive. Also the Citroë*Grand C4 Picasso, pictured, is a well thought-out and very comfortable seven seater. The rear seats are individual and all slide, so getting the children sorted out is not a problem. On the road, it is very smooth and not at all sporty which for a family, is actually quite a good thing. Perhaps a Toyota Verso might be the best compromise. It is a very refined and well-equipped medium-sized people carrier. The rearmost seats are in the floor and can be pulled up when you need them, leaving a huge boot the rest of the time. That middle row of seats performs a whole bunch of useful tricks, which includes sliding, reclining and folding. I think that is the sort of versatility which Jamini will find really helpful when it comes to dealing with her family. She can afford the top spec model, but the basic T2 is more than adequate. It isn't pretty – unlike the Mazda 5 – but it is likely to be just as reliable and more compact than a Ford S-Max.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

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