At New Car Advice our aim is to help remove the confusion from buying a new car by providing expert answers to your car buying questions. The service is completely free to use – just head to the New Car Advice website, ask a question and our team of experienced motoring journalists will get back you. Here’s what you’ve been asking lately:
Help! We need three child seats and a big boot
Q: We would like a car with three full seats in the back, to fit three child seats in comfortably. It also needs to have a decent sized boot and not be costly to run. CW
A: The Citroen C4 Picasso has three separate seats in the back, each with Isofix, plus the boot is a decent size, so you can get a buggy, scooters etc in without a problem. Unless you do a lot of miles (15,000 per year or more) we’d advise sticking with a petrol engine rather than diesel. Citroen’s 1.2-litre unit sounds like it’ll be underpowered in a big car but it’s actually really impressive, particularly if you go for the 130 horsepower version rather than the 110. In terms of running costs you can expect 35-40mpg from this engine in normal driving and road tax is £140 per year.
If you’d prefer the flexibility of seven seats (whilst maintaining the three individual seats in the second row) it’s worth looking at the Peugeot 5008, Ford S-Max and the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso too.
What electric car is best for a family?
Q: What is the best family sized electric car available on the market? MS
A: If you want the largest and most powerful electric family car with the longest range from a single charge (it can be more than 300 miles depending on which version you choose) it would be the Tesla Model X (SUV) or Model S (saloon). These are big cars with plenty of room for five people, and the option of an extra two rear seats if you need a seven-seater. Unsurprisingly this also makes them considerably more expensive than the other cars mentioned below, which are what would more traditionally be thought of as family cars.
For the next size down there’s the Nissan Leaf, a new version of which has just gone on sale with a real world range of about 200 miles from a full charge (about double that of the outgoing Leaf). Alternatively VW has just upgraded its electric e-Golf, which has a range of up to 120 miles between charges, or there’s the slightly cheaper fully electric version of the Hyundai Ioniq, which has a real world range similar to that of the e-Golf.
The next size down again brings you to the BMW i3 (about 120 miles from a full charge) and Renault Zoe (about 180 miles from a full charge). The former is more expensive (it costs about the same as the larger e-Golf) but also much quicker and is available with as a Range Extender which includes a small petrol-powered generator to charge the battery on the move.
Aside from the differences in range, which is best depends what you are looking for. If you’re unsure, we’d suggest test driving a BMW i3, which looks and feels very futuristic, and a VW e-Golf, which is much more conventional. If you like the BMW but want more space then try a Leaf. Or, if you prefer the Golf but would like something cheaper look at the Ioniq or Zoe instead.
Great cars for Great Danes
Q: What is a good car for transporting a Great Dane please? NH
A: The answer depends to some degree on your budget, but when it comes to carrying dogs in cars things such as a rubber boot liner, a large boot, a dog guard to stop them jumping over into the rear seats, and a comfortable ride so the dog doesn’t become travel sick are all factors to consider. With a large, heavy dog such as a Great Dane it’s also worth thinking about finding a car where the loading height of the boot is low enough to be easy to access as the dog gets older.
With that in mind we’d lean towards what are two of the most comfortable and spacious estate cars currently on sale. First is the Mercedes E-Class Estate, which has an enormous boot and a low load height and is available with a sturdy dog guard and a non-slip boot liner from the official Mercedes accessories range. Prices for the E-Class Estate start from £38,005.
Alternatively the Skoda Superb Estate (from £21,400) has a fraction more space in the boot than the Mercedes and can be ordered with a double-sided floor covering that again is non-slip on one side. You can also order a metal partition to go between the boot and passenger compartment direct from Skoda and a rubber protector than sits on top of the rear bumper to protect it as the dog climbs in and out. And Skoda offers as an accessory a ‘Dog Safety Belt’, which is a harness (it comes in sizes up to extra large!) that clips on to the seat belt if you want your dog to travel in the back seat.
What Jaguar E-Pace rivals should I consider?
Q: I am considering buying the new Jaguar E-Pace, but what other cars should I also consider?JB
A: Jaguar E-Pace rivals include the BMW X1, which is arguably the best small premium SUV you can buy. It’s roomier than the Jaguar, good to drive and well built. It is worth booking a test drive so you’ve got a benchmark for when it comes to trying the E-Pace.
Other rivals include the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, new versions of which are on the way. However, the Audi isn’t due to launch until Autumn 2018 and the Mercedes some time in 2019, which puts them outside your preferred time frame.
A cool crossover for first-time parents
Q: We’re in the market for a spacious family crossover in preparation for our first baby arriving. I want it to have decent boot space large enough for a buggy and luggage, but my husband has reservations about driving a ‘Dad Car’. Can you recommend something that’s sexier than a Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage, but where we’re not paying extra £££ just for the badge? HM
A: Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, but to us the latest Mazda CX-5 looks and feels like a true premium product. It’s also really spacious for passengers and has a boot that is easily large enough for a baby buggy and some luggage. Compared with most other family crossovers the CX–5 is also a cut above when it comes to handling, making it a great choice for those who value a fun driving experience. Prices starts from £23,695.
For more questions and answers, or to ask your own question, head to the New Car Advice website.