There may come a time when you find that your dinky hatchback just isn’t spacious enough anymore and you need a family car.
It might be when you’re setting off on a family holiday and you end up leaving the boot ajar because you can’t quite squeeze in all the luggage. Or when you notice the front seats creeping further and further forward to accommodate your growing children in the back.
Whatever the reason, when you’re ready to upgrade there are plenty of cars that are roomy enough for your whole family and a fortnightly food shop. But there’s more to consider than just space. Bigger cars can demand more fuel and some are laid out so poorly that you may find yourself with less space than you had in the first place.
We’ve tested a new version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate and had a first drive of the Volvo V90, which could both fit the bill. We’ve also fully road tested a pair of SUVs – the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Toyota RAV4, complete with a new hybrid engine. In the interest of variety, and in case you’re looking for something smaller, we’ve been driving the Citroen C3 too.
Volvo V90 – first drive
Volvo is well known for its estate cars, but the new V90 is about as far from the boxy models of old as you can get. It’s part of Volvo’s luxury 90 range, which also features the XC90 SUV. The stylish estate has the luxury look of its German rivals, though Volvo says the V90 styling offers a Swedish alternative. A wood-paneled interior and the striking ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights are certainly different. But it will need more than a striking design to challenge the Audi A6 and the BMW 5 Series.
We’ve criticised Volvos in the past for being dull to drive – read our first look review to see if the V90 bucks the trend.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate – tested model
Another challenger in the premium estate market, the C-Class estate is a size down from the V90. It occupies an area of the market already dominated by two other German premium marques, BMW and Audi.
We expect comfort and refinement from Mercedes, and the C-Class estate doesn’t disappoint – the interior is plush and luxurious. There are question marks over how spacious the C-Class is though. We can forgive the estate if it’s a little smaller than its rivals, but it will need to be a great drive to compensate – something not all estates manage.
You can read our full Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate review to see exactly how much we managed to fit into the modest boot and whether we were enthused while driving it.
Volkswagen Tiguan – new model
Thanks largely to the popularity of the Nissan Qashqai, compact SUVs and crossovers are a regular sight on UK roads. After nine years of the original Tiguan, VW has updated the car. The new look is a significant improvement over the bland original and gives the Tiguan a more upmarket look – unfortunately it’s got a similarly aspirational price tag. It’s only £1,000 cheaper than a Mercedes GLA and the base model is £3,000 more than a Qashqai.
Take a look at our Volkswagen Tiguan review to see if it’s any good for your family and if it can justify its steep price.
Toyota RAV4 hybrid – tested model
Rounding out our SUVs this week is the hybrid version of the Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 has been around for 20 years but this is the first hybrid version, adding an alternative to the current petrol and diesel RAV4 models.
This new hybrid option should have all the benefits of an SUV, such as lots of interior space and a high riding position, but without all the high fuel costs that a chunky 4×4 can run up.
Toyota has a good history with hybrids – it designed the Prius after all – so we had high hopes for the RAV4 when it came to fuel efficiency and emissions. Our tests certainly reveal some very surprising results. Read our full Toyota RAV4 hybrid review to see if it really is a viable alternative.
Citroen C3 – first drive
Is it a C3 or a Cactus? It’s definitely a C3, but it borrows several style notes from the Cactus. The new C3 has the snub-nosed front end and lumpy door panels of the Cactus and puts them on the C3’s small-car chassis. The result is distinctive and, though the bumpy door panels are the Marmite of car design, there is a certain bulldog charm to the C3.
As a small car competing with the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, the C3 needs to be as fun to drive as it is to look at. You can find out what we thought of the new C3 on the road by reading our first look review.
Hybrid vs hybrid
It takes a brave manufacturer to challenge the dominance of the Toyota Prius, but Hyundai is having a go. We’ve driven the IONIQ, so head to our Hyundai IONIQ first look review to see if it has what it takes to be a good alternative to the Prius.