Help Gavin Green pick his next family car…

Published: 28 July 2008

After a Peugeot 107 for his son, Gavin Green is lining up a family car for himself. On the list? Everything from a BMW 5-series to a Citroen C4 Picasso…

Car journalist seeks buying advice. Regular readers will know that I have just bought a Peugeot 107 as a runabout. But I’m a family man with wife, three growing sons (18, 15 and 11) and a brainless spaniel that likes nothing more than to ride in row three. A big family car is needed as well as the little Pug. The trusty six-year old Focus just isn’t big enough any more.

The criteria: must be big enough for a family of five (plus pooch). Must be good in town and on the rural three-laners. Fun to drive, naturally. As economical as possible, because my own money will be paying the fuel bills, road tax and pernicious Richmond residents’ parking charge. Plus must fit in ‘50s-style XS garage built for a Morris Minor, so tall or wide cars are impossible. That rules out all 4x4s and big Espace-style MPVs. A Mondeo can just squeeze in. Buying near-new is, of course, a cost-saving option. And probably a sensible one.

The shortlist:

BMW 5-series Touring

For: Excellent to drive. Brilliant engines. Striking on big wheels and with M Sport body kit.
Against: Looks terrible on small wheels or in wrong colours. I’d like a 535d but can only afford a 520d.

Audi A6 Avant

For: Roomy. Looks great. Fabulous cabin.
Against: Big (noticeably wider than the 5). A bit anodyne to drive.

Audi A4 Avant

For: New model, which I’ve just tested, is impressive and new 2.0 diesel goes well enough. Looks great, nice cabin.

Against: Roomy enough for short-haul, not sure about long haul with three growing lads in back? Plus the spaniel likes his space.

Mercedes E-class estate

For: I like Mercedes estates and wish we hadn’t sold the W124, the best car I’ve ever owned.
Against: The last Benz estate we owned was rubbish. The local dealer in west London was so poor that the missus says she’ll never buy another Mercedes.

Volvo V70

For: Volvo builds brilliant estate cars.
Against: But the V70 is not the most engaging of drives.

Ford S-Max

For: Great to drive, for an MPV.
Against: But do I really want an MPV?

Citroën C4 Picasso

For: Loads of room, looks good, kids like the optional back-seat DVDs.
Against: But I don’t want to be in an MPV when going solo.

Honda Accord Tourer or Mazda6 estate

For: They’re really good cars. Mazda and Honda are both on a roll.
Against: A bit of a culture shock when your last estate was a Benz.

Ford Mondeo estate

For: I know it’s very good.
Against: Do I want to spend £20K-plus on a Mondeo?

So, dear reader, suggestions are welcome…

By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience