The 10 best new family and luxury cars

The pick of the new-registration crop in terms of value for the whole family, plus a trip into the lap of luxury with Ferrari and Porsche

kia Cee'd family hatchback - with family standing beside it
Family matters: affordable hatchbacks and SUVs are rightly popular, although those with a much bigger budget are also spoilt for choice with premium products

Despite claims to the opposite, many car-buying articles do little to guide you through the bewildering choice of new cars available, nor address the fact that we often buy cars with our hearts, not our heads. That is to say, we buy the car that we want, rather than the one that will best suit our needs.

If this was a purely pragmatic decision, we’d all be driving Peugeot e-208s, Skoda Octavias or Subaru Foresters. But we don’t – we’re swayed by brand, by advertising, by intangible ideas of status. Whether we say it aloud or not, we buy cars because of how we think they make us look. And we can’t really help it. 

So instead of trying to unpick the fundamental drivers of human behaviour, I’ll try to distill our new car buying advice into a single principle: buy enough car. 

Don’t buy too little, and don’t buy too much. Don’t buy a car that will struggle with what you need it for, and don’t buy a car with capabilities that far exceed your daily routine. If your day begins with a high-speed motorway commute, don’t buy a 35kWh urban EV like the Honda e; if your existence revolves around Waitrose and the school gates then you’re unlikely to need the 90cm wading depth of the new Land Rover Defender.

Everybody – you, us, the marketing departments of car manufacturers – knows that most buyers ignore this incredibly obvious advice, and will continue to crave more powerful, more expensive and larger cars with every passing model year. But this year has forced us to analyse what we do, and how we’ve been doing it; there’s never been a more important time to rethink the way we get about. 

Family cars

Volvo XC40 Recharge

£60,000/on sale now

The XC40 is one of the best cars you can get, earning accolades and awards all over the world – not to mention the enduring respect of the motoring team here at the Telegraph. The new electric version builds on that formidable reputation, with a 250-mile zero-emission range and a 0-62mph of under five seconds. Families who want the practicality of a small SUV but the ecological footprint of an EV will struggle to find a better combination, though this versatility comes at a price; the XC40 Recharge EV is around twice as much to buy as a conventional petrol-powered version. We’ll be driving it later this month.

Mazda MX-30

£27,000/on sale soon

Mazda is the unsung hero of the family car market, its CX-3 and CX-5 SUVs offering great value, class-leading handling and impressive reliability. Now, that package has been given an electric boost – the MX-30 is Mazda’s first EV. It’s a relatively short-range model, with just 124 miles of zero-emission driving available before you’ll need to charge up, but this could be enough for many Brits who want a practical, versatile, capacious runabout – the MX-30 could replace the bus or the train for coronavirus-conscious families. Rear-opening back doors are a cheerful touch, too. Look out for a review of this interesting contender soon.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

£40,000 (est)/on sale soon

The Mach-E has very little to do with the snorting, roaring, V8-powered Mustang muscle car it shares a name with. Indeed, the Mach-e’s fully-electric workings are pretty far removed from the naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre engine under the bonnet of the regular ‘Stang. But with a 0-62mph time of under four seconds, high-performance versions of this crossover SUV are quicker off the line than most sports cars, including almost all petrol-powered Mustangs. Not bad for a practical, affordable, environmentally-friendly five-seater with 370 miles of zero-emission range. This is Ford’s new blue-collar hero. 

Nissan Qashqai

£25,000 (est)/on sale soon

The Qashqai has a lot to answer for. Credited with popularising the SUV format in Britain and other key European markets, this otherwise-unremarkable Nissan has been a school run mainstay for over a decade. The third generation arrives very soon, and while we don’t know much about it yet – it’s so ne wthere are no images yet and it is still undergoing last-minute testing – it’s expected to become an industry benchmark, just like its predecessors. If you’re in the market for an inexpensive family SUV without the added cost of a “premium” badge, the new Qashqai could be one to test drive when it arrives later this year. 

Hyundai Santa Fe

£40,000/on sale soon

The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the better large SUVs, and this year it receives a bit of an overhaul. New safety gear and a couple of hybrid options – both “regular” and plug-in – make this already-popular family car even more appealing to buyers who want to save money at the pump. Its main rival will be the brilliant Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, though we think it might begin to attract people away from more expensive, upmarket models like the Land Rover Discovery Sport. A five-year warranty (and commensurate reputation for reliability) makes the Santa Fe a compelling choice for families, despite the silly name. 

Premium

Mercedes S-Class

£90,000(est)/on sale soon

Futuristic safety kit, opulent interiors, powerful engines, even rear-wheel steering, even the potential to drive itself if Mercedes and legislation allow it to do so – the new S-Class has it all. Yes, a high-specication one of these will probably set you back six figures. But if you do a lot of motorway miles and want to experience the pinnacle of German automotive engineering (or if you run an airport transfer service in Stuttgart) the 2020 S-Class should be on your radar. Another exciting new model that we will be driving this month.

Polestar 2

£50,000/on sale now

Polestar is Volvo’s all-electric spin-off, and the Polestar 2 (the Polestar 1 was a limited-run high-performance hybrid) is its mainstream debut. Its slightly amorphous shape gives it a similar SUV-cum-coupe silhouette to the Jaguar I-Pace, and – like the Jag – it accelerates like a proper sports car. A practical interior, distinctively Swedish exterior design and fairly low price tag make this one of the most exciting battery-electric vehicles launched in recent years, and despite the unfamiliar badge, Polestar inherits Volvo’s understated but unmistakably upmarket cache. Expect phenomenal safety from this brand, too. 

Porsche 911 Targa

£98,000/on sale now

The Porsche 911 Targa has been around for longer than the Volkswagen Golf, and while it sells in slightly smaller numbers is an enduring piece of German car design. The new one comes with four-wheel-drive and up to 444bhp, making it a fairly formidable drop-top; the retractable glass roof disappears behind the seats at the touch of a button. The quickest version will reach 62mph in 3.6 seconds and keep accelerating to 189mph, though you’ll be paying over £100,000 for this. There aren’t many rivals in this segment – and we think most people who want a 911 will end up buying one regardless. 

Ferrari Roma

£171,000/on sale now

Can a Ferrari be practical? Perhaps. The Ferrari Roma certainly pretends to be, anyway. With a decent boot and a two extra “seats” in the back, the latest model from the world’s most famous car manufacturer is ideal for a jetsetting couple, or a family whose children are happy to sacrifice their personal comfort to experience a twin-turbocharged V8 generating 612bhp at 7,000rpm. It’s uncommonly attractive, dynamically flawless and very expensive to run – the criteria for a “proper” supercar in some people’s books. In a world dominated by hybrid this and low-emission that, Ferrari is still doing it the old-fashioned way.   

Audi e-tron Sportback

£80,000/on sale now

Further blurring the lines between saloons, hatchbacks, SUVs and coupés, the e-tron Sportback is Audi’s latest electric family crossover. It’s a little bit less practical than its SUV counterpart, with a smaller boot, but thanks to its sleeker shape it’s a bit more efficient – you get either 216 or 278 miles of (claimed) range, depending on which model you choose. Obviously that’s nowhere near as practical on long journeys as the diesel-powered bahnstormers Audi is famous for, but still more than enough for the vast majority of British buyers. And if the price made you wince, don’t worry – cheaper versions will become available soon. Yet another we’ll be driving later this month.

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