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The Best Small Family Cars

By raccars Published

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Small family cars aren't a trendy market sector buy, they are the biggest sellers in the UK, thanks to their combination of economy and practicality. Which one suits you best?

Citroen C4 Cactus

The Cactus offers something fresh and new in an industry which has become rather jaded. It's quirky in the finest tradition of Citroen - think a modern 2CV - and very economical. All of the engine choices are very competent and the cabin is full of practical design touches. Overall, it's as stylish as it is comfortable and a great value buy.

Volkswagen Golf

Almost tediously predictable, it would be impossible to leave the ever excellent Golf off the list. The seventh generation is the best yet, with a premium feel and an efficient engine range. If great driving dynamics are a priority, go for the reliably entertaining GTI or the punchy GTD.

Mazda 3

Modern Mazdas are displaying great build quality and user friendliness. The engine range is smooth and economical but surprisingly pacey. The cheapest to buy and probably the most practical on an everyday basis is the 2.0 litre petrol model.

Audi A3 Sportback

You're getting what you pay for with the A3, with a high class cabin and silky smooth ride. Its premium pedigree is evident from every angle and with every road mile driven. The e-Tron hybrid model is economical and reasonably practical but, for everyday use, most buyers opt for the 1.6 TDI or the 1.4 TFSI petrol. The capacious boot is a pleasant surprise too.

Honda Civic

The boldly styled new Civic is a step up in quality - and in price - compared to previous models. It's reasonably fast and efficient but also smooth and confident on the road. However, it's also a very practical family car with one of the biggest boots in its class and a clever, user friendly rear seat folding mechanism.

Seat Leon

It's clear to see how much the Leon shares with its VW Group stablemates, the VW Golf and Audi A3, with clean and efficient engines with plenty of refinement and a smart, modern cabin. Equipment levels are generous and the fit and finish are of a very high standard. The sporty FR is the driver's choice.

Vauxhall Astra

A new Astra is due to hit the market very soon, which means the older version is becoming more affordable - it may be a bit long in the tooth, but is still a very competent performer. The Astra has always been in the shadow of the VW Golf and Ford Focus but there's no obvious reason why - it's good looking, versatile and refined, and neatly straddles the line between performance and economy.

Volvo V40

This is a particularly good choice if you don't like visiting service stations, with fuel economy figures of 83.1mpg. Along with Volvo's famous reputation for safety, the V40 is a very chic looking car, with a premium quality cabin and refined ride characteristics. It's an interesting alternative to the big German three.

Hyundai i30

The i30 is an excellent example of how much effort Hyundai has put into improving its build quality, with a very smart cabin and generous equipment levels. Hyundai is chasing the premium sector at mainstream prices here, and the five year warranty is a particularly attractive feature. The best of the bunch is the 1.6 CRDi BlueDrive, with 76.3mpg and VED exemption, thanks to CO2 emissions of only 97g/km.

Toyota Auris

It's not the most glamorous or exciting of cars but the Auris is magnificently reliable and practical, with a comfortable and spacious cabin and low running costs. The engines are staid but competent and economical, and the hybrid version is VED free.

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