A reliable, child-friendly car is the glue that holds families together, allowing for shopping trips, school-runs, half-term holidays and so much more. However, finding a low-cost model that ticks all the boxes can be challenging, especially if you're after plenty of space, safety features and storage.
While owning the family-friendly car of your dreams may feel impossible at first glance, it could be more achievable than you think. Instead of paying upfront, most people now opt to buy cars via personal contract purchase (PCP), which spreads the total cost over an extended period. Plus, because you’re only funding part of the car’s value, you could drive away in something that would otherwise be out of your budget.
Thanks to their popularity, most manufacturers now offer these flexible payment options, meaning you can choose from an extraordinary range of family hatchbacks, hybrids and SUVs for under £200 per month. You can also double-check how much you can expect to pay by using our handy car finance calculator.
What’s more, to help you decide, we’ve compiled our top 5 budget-friendly recommendations that offer exceptional quality alongside affordability.
1. Peugeot 308
Estimated monthly cost: Used models from £155 per month
The Peugeot 308 is a child-friendly, five-door hatchback that’s often praised for being the best all-rounder for families on a budget. There’s plenty to love including its low running costs, impressive safety grade and spacious interiors that comfortably seat two up front and three in the back.
Thanks to its excellent fuel economy and low emission rates, the 308 promises exceptional value for money and lends itself to high-mileage road trips and summer staycations. Plus, it has a five-star safety score from Euro NCAP, taking the stress out of the bumpiest of journeys.
Driving performance aside, the 308 doesn’t skimp on style or space. The roomy boot offers 470 litres with the seats up and 1,185 litres with the seats folded. Plus, there’s extra hidden space below the load area for phones, book bags and other bits and pieces.
2. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
Estimated monthly cost: Used models from £188 per month
If you’re searching for reliability, there’s no better choice than the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, voted Family Car of the Year at the Auto Express Awards 2018. While this model retains much of the original Insignia’s design, it adds even more interior space and high-tech features. This includes a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, without significantly bumping up the price.
Its unrivalled reliability is, in part, thanks to its vast array of customisable engines, meaning you can choose the machinery that suits your driving style. You can opt for a petrol or diesel engine, front-wheel drive, four-wheel-drive, six-speed manual, six-speed automatic or eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The Grand Sport also offers much more space than its predecessor, comfortably seating large families while providing plenty of storage. The front doors have generously sized pockets, and there’s a large cubbyhole under the middle armrest to keep prized possessions safe.
3. Ford Mondeo
Estimated monthly cost: Used models from £186 per month
Ford is known for creating classic, reliable and functional cars, and the Mondeo doesn’t disappoint. Recently upgraded, it offers a more upscale design, plenty of interior features and ample storage.
Its large dimensions make it an efficient family car with plenty of room for passengers and luggage. Yet, despite its impressive size, it handles surprisingly lightly, navigating tight corners and parking spaces with ease. The Mondeo is also built for speed, making it the perfect option for families who take regular motorway trips – paired with sat-nav as standard.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Mondeo is space. There are deep door pockets, large cup holders and a wide central cubby complete with USB sockets. What’s more, the generously sized boot offers more space than you’ll ever need.
4. Dacia Duster SUV
Estimated monthly cost: Used models from £160 per month
Are you surprised to see an SUV on the list? The Dacia Duster is excellent value for money, easy-to-drive and incredibly practical – the ideal option for growing families looking to get more car for their money.
The Duster is an uncomplicated vehicle, built for countryside living. Thanks to its unique combination of small wheels and high-rubber tyres, you can navigate bumps and potholes effortlessly. What’s more, its supreme grip makes driving feel much safer even on the rainiest days.
Despite the low price tag, you get plenty of interior space. The rear door openings are tall for easy access, and the height of the seats from the ground means children can easily hop in and out. The boot is large by SUV standards, offering enough room to carry luggage, camping equipment, multiple school projects and more.
5. Skoda Octavia
Estimated monthly cost: Used models from £167 per month
Perhaps one of the flashiest cars on our list, the Skoda Octavia has steadily moved away from its budget roots into the realm of premium transport, rivalling the Audi A1 and Mercedes A Class. However, thanks to the wealth of PCP on offer, it’s still an affordable, quality option for families looking for something a little fancier.
The Octavia’s driving performance is impressive, and the 148bhp diesel engine can go from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. In addition, its soft suspension makes cruising at pace a pleasure, even when carrying several children and a boot full of luggage.
As well as this, this particular model provides some of the most generous rear space of any hatchback. Behind a tall driver, passengers are still able to lounge comfortably, and there’s plenty of head and elbow room for restless children. Storage-wise, the boot provides more space than rival hatchbacks, and even outperforms most models from the class above.
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