Motoring

Advice for the Car-Hunting New Dad

Written by Sam Skelding

Switching to a more practical car doesn’t have to be Greek tragedy for new dads, says Matt Rawlings.

A friend broke some news recently during a night out – when men make big announcements a pub is usually involved in some way. His partner was pregnant and they were expecting not just their first child, but their first two – twins had been confirmed and they were beginning to discuss the kind of adjustments they would be making in their lives.

Glasses were raised and clinked together, hands either hi-fived or patted backs, and then there was a moment’s silence amongst the group, eventually broken by the newest Dad-to-be. “So this weekend,” he said, with an air of resignation, “I’m going shopping for cars.”

There it was, out there and amongst us; the unspoken truth. Top of the priority list for new fathers – not decorating the nursery or smallest bedroom, or contemplating more flexible working hours, or putting some thought into a birthing plan – is changing the car. For something sensible. It doesn’t matter whether you actually own a nippy soft-top two-seater, that you’ll now have to trade in, or not: if you don’t drive in, now you’ll NEVER be able to. You’ve been blessed with the impending arrival of your child, but robbed of driving your dream car!

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. While a sporty motor with no rear seating and a tiny boot is unsuitable from a practical point of view, family cars don’t have to equate to clunky, heavy vehicles with zero visual appeal. Let’s take a look at some of the best motoring options for a growing family.

Seat Leon

Voted No.1 in its top ten list of Best Family Cars by carbuyer.co.uk, the Seat Leon’s sporty look has seen it compared to the VW Golf – but more affordable. Notable features are its wider rear doors, improved head and legroom, and bigger boot space. Some models – like the 1.6 TDI Ecomotive Hatchback – come with Bluetooth, Cruise Control and zero tax. Click here for an example.

Nissan Qashqai

Consistently popular, the Qashqai has been a hit since its launch into the market eight years ago – this review by Auto Express summarises its strengths as a great all-rounder, comfortable, practical, and economical. While these all sound like qualities typical of good old Dependable Dad, don’t be put off. The Qashqai offers 4×4 styling but decent running costs, and always draws admiring glances: the 1.5 dCi Acenta was voted Car of the Year 2014 by What Car?

Audi A3

Yes, an Audi A3 is suitable for family use – unless you have a large brood, in which case, look elsewhere. But for the one or two child family, the A3 has enough space. As is generally the case with an Audi, it’s a premium drive, a strong and efficient engine, and re-sale value always holds up well. Meaning you can upgrade to a larger vehicle further down the line if needs be and not necessarily lose out in your pocket.

Ford Focus Hatchback

The Focus is always a strong option – perhaps not first choice as it suffers unfairly from a dull image, but as you shop around you may well find that it takes some beating in terms of sheer value. It boasts superb economy and performance, particularly from the Zetec engine, which is impressive. Best of all, it’s affordable and you should be able to secure a decent discount on purchase. If you want something a bit larger, check out the estate version but be prepared to pay a little extra.

Skoda Octavia 1.6 Estate

It’s been some time since the Skoda was a snide joke – the Octavia compares with similar rivals in this list (A3, Leon) in all but price. As the Parkers verdict states, the model is ‘economical, vastly spacious inside and an enjoyable car to drive too’. The boot is huge – perfectly suited to house your choice of buggy or stroller and all the assorted baggage which comes as a standard part of life as a new parent!

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