SPACE — FOR some car buyers it’s the final frontier. Whether you’re an antiques trader, a parent on the school run or a real-life Action Man, if you need a car with a big boot you’re spoilt for choice.
But what has the biggest? And, short of dragging a sideboard, pushchair and mountain bike from one showroom to the next, how can drivers tell if a model will be practical enough for their needs?
Allow us to help. We have researched the carrying capacity of some of the most popular family cars in Britain.
There’s good news: drivers don’t need deep pockets to buy a car with generous amounts of boot space. Two of the most capacious cars on the market cost little more than £13,000. But you can spend a lot more than that if you want some luxury too.
Here, then, are Britain’s most bootylicious cars.
Jump to different body styles
Family hatchbacks with the largest boots
Across Europe more people buy a small family hatch than any other type of car. In the UK the bestselling car in this sector is the Ford Focus. That’s no surprise, as it’s cheap to buy and run and good to drive, yet it also has one of the smallest boots, capable of stowing a miserly 316 litres. So what are the alternatives?
Seat Toledo and Skoda Rapid Spaceback
Bland to the point of being invisible, these two hatchbacks (they’re the same car with different badges) offer carrying capacity aplenty and are big on value – at least at the bottom end of the range.
- Priced from: £14,495 (Toledo), £13,150 (Rapid)
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 550/1490 litres
- For: Top value; spacious interior; good engines
- Against: Boring to look at and drive; unsettled ride
The B-class is a hatchback crossed with a people carrier (or MPV) and is one of those cars that fly below the radar of most car buyers. Yet if you need lots of luggage space, it delivers, with 488 litres in the boot. Choose the Easy Vario Plus, an optional sliding rear seat, and boot space jumps from to a class-leading 666 litres – with the rear seat backs up.
- Priced from: £21,500
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 488/1545 litres
- For: Image; build quality; engines
- Against: Awkward looks; stodgy dynamics
Buy a used Mercedes B-class on driving.co.uk
Made in Britain, the ninth-generation Civic looks as striking as its predecessor, from which it borrows its brilliantly practical cinema-style folding rear seat for extra carrying capacity. It’s bulky back end gives the car the proportions of an egg laid on its side but frees up luggage room for pushchairs and suchlike.
- Priced from: £15,975
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 477/1378 litres
- For: Striking looks; versatile rear seat; engaging handling
- Against: Fussy dashboard; poor rear visibility
Buy a used Honda Civic on driving.co.uk
Compact SUVs with the largest boots
Over the past few years the compact SUV sector has mushroomed, with buyers eager to get into anything that offers a raised ride height, practical cabin and, ideally, a posh badge on the bonnet too. In theory practicality should be a big draw for these cars; the reality is that many don’t offer any more luggage space than a family hatchback. These ones do.
The ix35 can look underwhelming next to its rivals, but it’s competitively priced and few cars are as good to own: reliability is excellent and backed up by a five-year unlimited-mileage warranty.
- Priced from: £17,150
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 591/1436 litres
- For: Excellent value; dependable; great warranty
- Against: Not very good to drive; cheap-looking interior
Buy a used Hyundai ix35 on driving.co.uk
Choose the 1.6-litre turbodiesel model and you’ll have a car that offers the potential for good fuel economy, but of more significance to drivers who need a family-friendly car is that the CR-V features three individual seats in the back, making it more comfortable for passengers than many rival SUVs.
- Priced from: £22,005
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 589/1669 litres
- For: Frugal 1.6 diesel engine; well-designed cabin
- Against: Firm ride; some low-rent interior trim
Buy a used Honda CR-V on driving.co.uk
Think of it as a cut-price Evoque, with striking looks and an equally striking price. But the Kia comes with a warranty that lasts a full seven years, and it’s packed with kit. The downside? It’s dynamically average at best.
- Priced from: £17,500
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 564/1,353 litres
- For: Smart looks; great warranty; reliable; spacious interior
- Against: The ride isn’t great; some below-par interior trim
Buy a used Kia Sportage on driving.co.uk
Large SUVs with the biggest boots
Some full-sized SUVs come with five seats while others have seven. To keep a level playing field we’ve assumed only five seats are in use regardless of how many are fitted – because many take little more than a washbag in the boot when all seven seats are occupied.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Grand Cherokee can tackle pretty much any terrain you throw at it. Yet it’s more likely to be seen carrying Hugo and Portia to school than crossing the Himalayas. Still, at least there’s no shortage of space for the school science project in its cavernous boot.
- Priced from: £38,895
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 782/1,554 litres
- For: Brilliant off road; easy to drive; decent standard equipment
- Against: Cabin is uninspiring; no seven-seat option
Buy a used Jeep Grand Cherokee on driving.co.uk
The original Volvo XC90 introduced us to the idea of a seven-seat SUV, but since it arrived in 2003 a whole host of rivals have sprung up. The new car has to cut it in a much tougher world, but we reckon it’s not going to struggle.
- Priced from: £45,750
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 775/1,951 litres
- For: Safe; comfortable; beautifully appointed
- Against: Not as tough off road as some rivals
Buy a used Volvo XC90 on driving.co.uk
Before long the new Audi Q7 will be everywhere, and while it’s not a car for the individualist, it appeals on so many fronts that its guaranteed popularity is easy to understand. But so talented is the new Q7 that unless you live on the top of Ben Nevis, it’ll never break into a sweat no matter what you throw at it.
- Priced from: £44,995
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 770/1,955 litres
- For: Superb build quality; excellent stability; more space-efficient than before
- Against: Looks like all those other Audis; massive
Buy a used Audi Q7 on driving.co.uk
Compact MPVs with the biggest boots (5-seaters)
There’s an excellent range of MPVs, or people carriers, is available. They are more versatile and comfortable than a five-seat hatchback, but you’ll notice that the two most roomy contenders look suspiciously like vans. That’s because they are, but for drivers who need to maximise boot space, nothing can beat them.
The last one was more than just faintly ridiculous, but the latest Fiat Doblo actually looks rather neat. More significantly, it’s got a huge booty: a 790-litre rump that makes this perfect for carrying all the gear for camping weekends. It’s good value too – just be prepared for the occasional request forCcornettos and Flake 99s from passers-by when you stop.
- Priced from: £13,570
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 790/3,200 litres
- For: Astonishingly practical; excellent value
- Against: Van-like looks; unrefined; low-rent interior
Buy a used Fiat Doblo on driving.co.uk
Citroën Berlingo Multispace
Clarkson loves the Berlingo Multispace because it’s just so darned clever, and if it’s good enough for him it’s definitely good enough for us. Comfy, surprisingly refined and, oddly, fun to drive, the Berlingo should not be dismissed too readily.
- Priced from: £13,355
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 675/3,000 litres
- For: Surprisingly good to drive; top value
- Against: Basic versions are spartan
Buy a used Citroën Berlingo Multispace on driving.co.uk
Volkswagen Golf SV
The Golf is one of the best cars money can buy, a jack of all trades and, frankly, master of many. So if drivers are taken by the notion of owning a Golf but need just a little more space, the SV – sports van – is just the ticket.
- Priced from: £19,205
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 590/1,520 litres
- For: Smooth and refined; feels well screwed together; strong image
- Against: Touran is more versatile; no six-speed gearbox for 1.6 TDI
Buy a used VW Golf SV on driving.co.uk
Compact MPVs with the largest boots (7-seaters)
If you want a compact MPV but occasionally need seven seats, then consider a version with a longer body, which should still be manageable in the car park at Waitrose but allows an extra pair of seats to fit in the back. They’re usually occasional seats, though, which is why we’ve given measurements with only the first two rows in use.
Renault Grand Scénic
Renault created the compact MPV two decades ago, so it knows a thing or two about small people carriers. A sliding middle row of seats means you can fit seven adults into the Grand Scénic – or five with luggage. But, as with all cars of this type, not both.
- Priced from: £20,590
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 702/2,063 litres
- For: Spacious cabin; perky engines; great value
- Against: Too many electronics; interior lacks versatility
Buy a used Renault Grand Scénic on driving.co.uk
You will not find excitment in a Volkswagen Touran, but you will find cupholders, cubby holes, stowage compartments, seven individual seats and trim that is built to withstand all the knocks and scrapes that a family can throw at it.
- Priced from: £19,790
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 695/1,913 litres
- For: Typical VW build quality; strong image; versatile
- Against: Dull to look at and dull to drive; awkward third-row access
Buy a used Volkswagen Touran on driving.co.uk
The first-generation Zafira was the first compact MPV to offer a fold-flat third row of seats, making it revolutionary. Since then Vauxhall’s rate of innovation hasn’t kept it ahead of the competition, and, introduced in 2005, the current model is getting on. But it still carts the family about with minimal fuss.
- Priced from: £19,255
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 645/1,820 litres
- For: Not bad to drive; cheap to run
- Against: Low-rent image; not refined
Buy a used Vauxhall Zafira on driving.co.uk
Large MPVs with the biggest boots
There aren’t many full-sized MPVs available any more – this is a dying breed. The Kia Sedona used to be one of the most spacious, along with the Hyundai i800, but they’ve gone. The Chrysler Grand Voyager follows shortly, with the marque’s demise in the UK in 2017.
Chrysler Grand Voyager
In the MPV market, if you want to carry seven people in comfort and still have room for their luggage, it‘s a one-horse race: only the Chrysler Grand Voyager can manage it. But take space out of the equation and there’s not much to recommend this over-sized barge, which is slow, noisy and ponderous to drive.
- Priced from: £28,310
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 934/4,100 litres
- For: Acres of space; competitive price
- Against: Poor cabin quality; high running costs; company is withdrawing from UK in 2017
Buy a used Chrysler Grand Voyager on driving.co.uk
There’s a refreshed Sharan on the horizon, but it won’t be much different from the current car. Which means it’ll be big, refined, spacious and rather unexciting. The Seat Alhambra is the same car, and it’s cheaper, but with the second row of seats in place it isn’t quite as roomy.
- Priced from: £25,500
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 300/2,297 litres
- For: Big cabin; versatile seating; sliding rear doors
- Against: Costly to buy; some versions feel underpowered
Buy a used Volkswagen Sharan on driving.co.uk
The Seat Alhambra is the same car as the Sharan, and certain versions are cheaper, but it’s not quite as versatile. Like its VW cousin the Alhambra is about to be revamped, so don’t pay over the odds for a current model.
- Priced from: £24,885
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 658/2,297 litres
- For: Sliding rear side doors; comfort; refinement
- Against: No petrol option; functional styling
Buy a used Seat Alhambra on driving.co.uk
Compact estates with the biggest boots
These estate cars are based on some of the most popular cars on sale. They are relatively affordable to buy and, increasingly, are practical to live with as successive versions grow larger. As a general rule they’re better to drive and more fuel-efficient than a five-seat people carrier, so don’t rule them out.
Peugeot 308 SW
It was voted last year’s European Car of the Year, so drivers may be expecting great things of the 308 SW (station wagon). And it delivers: refinement, build quality, driving pleasure and an impressive engine line-up make this surprisingly capacious compact estate a satisfying car to drive.
- Priced from: £17,145
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 660/1,775 litres
- For: Good to look at and good to drive
- Against: Low-rent image
Buy a used Peugeot 308 on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Honda Civic Tourer
The Honda Civic hatchback is one of the most roomy cars in its segment and, unsurprisingly, so is the estate. But it’s no one-trick pony, because while the Civic Tourer can stow plenty, it’s also one of the most comfortable cars around.
- Priced from: £18,650
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 624/1,668 litres
- For: Reliable; frugal 1.6 diesel engine; comfortable ride
- Against: Lacklustre image; fussy dashboard design
Buy a used Honda Civic on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Volkswagen Golf estate
If you had to have just one car for the rest of your life, it ought to be a Volkswagen Golf estate. It just does everything well, and you can choose an engine anywhere between mild and wild. With a 605-litre boot, it can carry plenty of clobber too.
- Priced from: £18,945
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 605/1,620 litres
- For: Great cabin, engines and build
- Against: You won’t stand out from the crowd
Buy a used VW Golf on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Family estates with the biggest boots
Family estate cars have grown a great deal, to the point where they are neck and neck and tailgate by tailgate with estate cars from the class above. So before you go all out and opt for a larger, more expensive car, check carefully to see whether one of these could meet your needs.
Volkswagen Passat estate
The Passat may not be exciting to drive but it is comfortable and refined and one of the best all-rounders you can buy. It’s packed with tech – from adaptive cruise control and Park Assist to a touchscreen display that’s a massive 12.3in across – and the boot is surprisingly accommodating given the car’s sleek styling.
- Priced from: £23,870
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 650/1,780 litres
- For: Efficient engines; refinement; lots of tech
- Against: Looks smart, but it’s still anonymous
Buy a used VW Passat on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Skoda Octavia estate
Not only is the Octavia’s boot commodious, but it’s astonishingly easy to get to thanks to buttons in the boot that drop the back seats for you, to save the rear doors being opened. You want more? How about a front passenger seat that folds flat so your surfboard doesn’t have to go on the roof?
- Priced from: £17,330
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 610/1,740 litres
- For: Keen prices; zesty engines; simple and robust interior
- Against: Nothing unless you’re a badge snob
Buy a used Skoda Octavia on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Hyundai i40 Tourer
Only Kia can better Hyundai’s five-year warranty. That underlines the confidence Hyundai has in its cars – which is just as well, because although the i40 Tourer is dependable, well equipped and spacious, it’s hardly the last word in excitement.
- Priced from: £20,355
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 553/1,719 litres
- For: Keen warranty and pricing
- Against: Inert steering and handling
Buy a used Skoda Octavia on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Large estates with the biggest boots
Before the rise of SUVs and MPVs, a large estate car was the daddy of DIY, the king of load-luggers that could pile in everything including the kitchen sink. Typically better to drive than an MPV or SUV, because it is usually lighter, lower and more powerful, a large estate is still a wise buy if you don’t need more than five seats.
Mercedes E-class estate
If ultimate carrying capacity is your goal, nothing can beat the E-class with its 695-litre boot and helpful touches such as a false floor, an extra pair of back seat release handles by the boot opening and electrically operated luggage cover.
- Priced from: £48,080
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 695/1950 litres
- For: Looks great; refined; beautifully built
- Against: Expensive; ultimately not that spacious
Buy a used Mercedes E-class on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
Skoda Superb estate
We haven’t yet driven the new-generation Skoda Superb estate, but we rather suspect that, just like the outgoing car, it will be good value for money, refined and (with a 633-litre boot) spacious.
- Priced from: £19,815
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 633/1,865 litres
- For: High-quality cabin; keen prices
- Against: Gawky looks; current car dies soon
Buy a used Skoda Superb on driving.co.uk (enter postcode, click the full search and check estate bodystyle)
It’s been around for ever but that doesn’t stop the Volvo V70 featuring some of the most reassuring safety tech available. It’s also got supremely comfortable seats, so if you’re looking for a load-lugger that’s relaxing to drive, this is the one.
- Priced from: £25,995
- Boot capacity seats up/down: 575/1,600 litres
- For: Comfortable seats; incredibly safe
- Against: Below-par multimedia system; jerky auto
Buy a used Volvo V70 on driving.co.uk