Citroën C4 Grand Picasso e-HDI 115 Airdream
If space is the final frontier, then set a course for the Citroën C4 Grand Picasso. Like a black hole, this car will swallow anything you can throw at it, boasting more cabin room and luggage space (up to 2,181 litres) than other family shuttles such as the Renault Grand Scénic.
The interior design is said to be “loft-inspired” and the striking bodywork means the Grand Picasso wouldn’t look out of place docked at the International Space Station. In short, it’s as interesting as it is practical.
The driving experience may not be as satisfying as that in a Ford S-Max, but the important attributes are all taken care of — smooth ride comfort, low noise levels and a willing and efficient turbodiesel engine that can return up to 70mpg.
Engine 1560cc, 4 cylinders, diesel
Acceleration 0-62mph: 12.1sec
Fuel / CO2 70.6mpg / 105g/km
Road tax B (first year free; then £20)
Price £22,075 (with roadside assistance)
Payments £299 x 36 months
Optional final payment £8,636
Interest rate 4.9%
Total payable £24,016
Kia Carens 2 1.7 CRDI 114bhp manual
While rivals in the category, particularly Citroën, push ahead with futuristic-looking interiors dominated by screens that dazzle occupants with menus, sub-menus and haphazard voice control, the cabin of the Kia Carens is refreshingly simple. It offers chunky, clear buttons, although a touchscreen sat nav is available on higher-end models. This isn’t one of our favourite MPVs for its performance, ride or refinement, but it does have seven seats and a flexible interior with seats that fold flat, cooled glovebox as standard and three power sockets. It’s also between £2,000 to £3,000 cheaper than equivalent models from Citroën and Renault.
Further savings are available this month with PCP deals. A total saving of £1,750 in the form of a discount on the list price and deposit contribution is available on the popular diesel-powered Carens 2 1.7 CRDi, which means that even after interest you will pay less than the showroom price.
Engine 1685cc, 4 cylinders, diesel
Acceleration 0-60mph: 12.6sec
Fuel / CO2 60.1mpg / 124g/km
Road tax D (first year free; then £105)
Payments £271.86 x 36 months
Optional final payment £6,753.25
Interest rate 4.9%
Total payable £19,709.21
Mercedes-Benz E 220 CDI SE automatic estate
The boot of the E-class estate is so vast that you can throw in your luggage and wait for the echo to let you know that it’s landed. On the move, the ride is so smooth that your children should sleep undisturbed. As long as you’re not looking for a thrilling driving experience, this is the best family car on the market. Minor tweaks and new styling introduced last year have brought it right up to date. Under a PCP deal, buyers of the popular E 220 CDI SE pay a deposit of £5,000-odd and get a contribution of £2,895 from Mercedes, which brings the monthly payments below £400.
Engine 2143cc, 4 cylinders, diesel
Acceleration 0-62mph: 8.6sec
Fuel / CO2 52.3mpg / 140g/km
Road tax E (£125 a year)
Price £36,830 (with metallic paint)
Payments £389 x 36 months
Optional final payment £18,700
Interest rate 5.8%
Total payable £37,707.44