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A family holiday or a new car?

By raccars Published

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Apparently an average family holiday costs £4,800 these days. You could buy a new car for that...

Would you rather shop for sun cream and flip flops for two weeks of sun and sand or trawl the classifieds for a new car for the same price? If you're prepared to forgo the family holiday this year, here's what you could buy instead.

A new car for the price of a holiday

Audi A4 Avant

An A4 Avant has plenty of room for a couple of kids and a dog in the back, and it looks pretty smart too. That Audi badge ensures a smooth ride, excellent finish and plenty of kit to keep you all comfortable, plus there is a wide choice of engines and trim levels. The S line models are fabulous but relatively harsh riding for a family car. You should have no trouble finding a 2004-2008 model in good condition and with low mileage for less than £5,000, but make sure that you get a full service history and look out for failed oil pumps and wear to the rear suspension bushes.

Fiat Panda

It might not carry much badge prestige but the Fiat Panda is gloriously entertaining around the city and stylish in a cute and funky way. Italians love them because they're as tough as mountain goats and nippy too. There's a surprising amount of room inside and the Panda is nicely finished too. The steering is well engineered to be lighter at lower speeds so parking is easy. The 1.2 petrol model offers a good combination of fuel economy and nippy performance, and the Panda's a bargain, with 2007 models giving you change from £1,000. That way you can still afford a city break too!

Ford StreetKa

It was never the trendiest of cars, but there's plenty of fun to be had from a Ford StreetKa with the top down. It's quite stylishly designed and handles beautifully around town and on B-roads, however the motorway isn't its strong point. It's excellent value for money too; 2003-2006 models in good condition should be easy to find within budget but make sure that the roof mechanism works properly and that no water has got inside to cause damage. The front subframe is prone to corrosion too.

Mercedes-Benz CLK

A two door coupe with a Mercedes badge is surely more sophisticated than your average two week all inclusive in the Med. The 2002-2009 model still looks very distinguished and in the Sport trim level with AMG wheels it'll get you a fair amount of attention. It's both refined and athletic and is great for long distance journeys but not that spacious in the rear seats. There's a 3.2 litre V6 petrol model with the smoothest performance and a great automatic transmission that's highly recommended. There are no serious reliability issues but beware rust around the wheel arches and make sure that you get a full service history. For about £3,000 you should be able to find an earlier model with no more than 100,000 on the clock.

Lexus GS

A Lexus has always been the cheapest way into premium luxury car ownership and the GS 450h is more environmentally friendly than all those air miles you'd be racking up on a family holiday. Lexus is famous for excellent customer service at main dealers and as a hybrid, the GS 450h is as economical as it is clean and green. On the road it's comfortable and refined, although better on A and B roads than motorways. There's plenty of comfort and convenience kit too and Lexus is well known for reliability. Beware of oxidisation on the alloys but there are no other issues to cause concern. A 2005 model with less than 100,000 miles on the clock should just about be within budget.

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