independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Drive time - Great family cars

What constitutes a great car for families? We take a look at some of the latest models on the market that promise to transport your brood both comfortably and safely

BMW X1

Buying a family car is a big investment that should not be taken lightly, particularly in today’s difficult economic climate.

You will want a vehicle that is spacious, comfortable and, above all, can safely transport even the youngest of your children. The Road Safety Authority’s ( RSA) booklet Child Safety in Cars. A Guide to Selecting and Fitting Child

Restraints provides some useful tips on how to choose a family car. According to the RSA: “If you are considering buying a new car for the family you should examine closely information regarding the safety performance of individual car models.”

One such source of must-have information is Euro NCAP ( www.euroncap.com), which provides motoring consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. Established in 1997, Euro NCAP is composed of seven European governments as well as motoring and consumer organisations in every European country.

Euro NCAP releases one overall star rating for each car tested, with a maximum of five stars. This overall safety rating is composed of scores in four areas: adult protection; child protection; pedestrian protection; and safety assist. The overall score is calculated by weighing the four scores with respect to each other, while making sure that not one area is underachieving.

Ford C-MAX

The new Ford C-MAX line-up just arrived in Ireland last November. According to Ford, it is the perfect combination of innovation, style and flexibility. Advanced technology, responsive performance and improved sustainability add up to more driving enjoyment.

“ The all new five-seat Ford C-MAX and seven-seat Grand C-MAX provide excellent levels of versatility, drive quality and safety for families,” says Eddie Murphy, chairman and managing director of Ford Ireland. “ With its sliding doors, the Grand C-MAX is supremely practical, especially for use in tight parking spots.

“Speaking of parking, the C-MAX also features the innovative Active Park Assist system, which takes the worry out of parallel parking in a tight parking spot. When the system is engaged, the car can expertly park itself within the space available. Up to now, Active Park Assist has been a feature that has only been available on more expensive competitive models, but with the advent of the new C-MAX, this excellent driving aid is now available to a much wider range of drivers.”

The new Ford C-MAX retails from €23,995. See www.ford.ie.

Toyota Verso

Another car that is ideal for family transport is the new Toyota Verso, which Toyota says combines true multi-purpose vehicle flexibility and practicality with the comfort and driving enjoyment of a conventional passenger car.

Within the interior of the vehicle, the Toyota Easy Flat seven-seating system offers more space, greater comfort and easier operability with a focus on the enhanced second-and third-row accommodation. Each seat folds flat with one easy motion to create a completely flat surface area. There are also multiple storage places and extensive luggage space.

The Verso has a five-star Euro NCAP rating – the maximum that can be achieved – and features seven airbags, VSC, ABS and Hill Start assist control as stan¬dard. The Verso petrol and diesel engines also feature Toyota Optimal Drive, which minimises CO2 emissions and maximises fuel efficiency. For more information visit www.toyota.ie.

BMW X1

Ideal for all the family, the BMW X1 sports an elevated seating position, a generous feeling of space, wide range of storage options and three full-sized seats at the rear. The rear seat backrest is adjustable for angle and folds down in a 40/20/20 split, and the luggage compartment capacity may be increased from 420 litres to a maximum of 1,350 litres.

Safety is a priority for the BMW X1 – it received the maximum score of five stars at the Euro NCAP crash tests. Its extremely stable body structure ensures that the passenger cell is subject to maximum protection even in the event of a forceful impact. The BMW X1 also received a particularly high score in relation to occupant protection for children.

Standard features include three-point inertia-reel seatbelts all round, frontal and side airbags as well as head airbags at the side, adaptive brake lights and day¬time driving lights.

Entertainment is also high on the X1’s agenda. Optionally it can be fitted with navigations systems and the BMW iDrive system, which gives you quick access to all your contacts and music via a control dis¬play in the instrument panel. Sophisticated hi-fi sys¬tems are available as an alternative to the audio sys¬tem fitted as standard. A wide range of rear passenger entertainment systems are also available.

“The BMW X1 is a mid-sized sport activity vehicle (SAV) that impresses with its versatility, efficiency and dynamic drive,” explains Julia Christoph from BMW Ireland. “It is classed in the premium compact seg¬ment and has just the right size to be agile in the city but also comfortable on longer drives with the family or friends.”

Prices start from: €33,000 for the X1 sDrive18d SE. See www.bmw.ie.

Mazda5

The new Mazda5 just hit dealer showrooms this month. More family-friendly than ever, this seven-seat offering is suitable for anyone looking for a versatile family car.

The previous generation 5 was a success worldwide, with over 500,000 units finding homes, as Mazda was the first company to introduce rear-sliding doors in a car in the compact multi activity vehicle (MAV) seg¬ment. The rear-sliding doors and seven-seat configura¬tion continue with the new model. Second and third row seats can be easily folded into a variety of con¬figurations. Long journeys are less of a chore as the interior comfort levels have been enhanced with larger and wider seats. The Mazda5 has a new dashboard, steering wheel and centre console providing a more premium look and feel.

According to Mazda, being a family car, safety was a priority during the Mazda5’s development. Side door impact beams now use a double-hat shape that adds greater strength. Pedestrian safety measures are improved by enhancements to the bonnet and front bumper. Safety features such as ABS Anti-Lock Brak¬ing System, EBD electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, traction control system, DSC Dynamic Stability Control, Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), front, side and curtain airbags (for all three rows) are all standard.

“With the launch of the new Mazda5, we are confi¬dent we will attract even more family car buyers to the brand,” says Richard Molloy, marketing and PR direc¬tor, Mazda Motor Ireland. “The rear-sliding doors, flex¬ible seven-seat system and 45 storage compartments make daily family motoring that little bit easier. Own¬ers will enjoy the benefit of lower cost motoring with the introduction of a fuel-efficient and low emissions 1.6-litre diesel engine.”

Prices start at €24,995 and more information is available at www.mazda.ie.

Peugeot 5008

The Peugeot 5008 MPV, the new compact people car¬rier from Peugeot, has been awarded Continental Irish Family Car of the Year 2011 by the Irish Motoring Writ¬ers Association. The new Peugeot 5008 is available in three trims and retails in Ireland from €27,155 plus dealer delivery-related charges.

“The Peugeot 5008 is a worthy winner of the Irish Family Car of the Year 2011 accolade,” said Des Can¬non, sales and marketing director at Peugeot, at the Car of the Year Awards ceremony. “With families in mind, providing high levels of standard safety equip¬ment, to include ESP, has been a top priority. Indeed the Peugeot 5008 is a segment leader offering three ISOFIX child seat fixtures in row two and curtain air¬bags that protect all three rows of passengers.

“Flexibility is another key strength of the 5008. Passengers easily access the third row seats from the second row and passengers in row three benefit from footwells, not usually a feature in three-row seven-seat vehicles.”

The Peugeot 5008 is available with a 1.6 HDi FAP 112bhp manual or ecomatique gearbox. The eco gear¬box offers a real alternative to automatic drivers faced with high road tax costs in Ireland. The seven-seater qualifies for €156 annual road tax and the government scrappage allowance of €1,250. Up to the end of Janu¬ary 2011, Peugeot is offering a further scrappage dis¬count of €2,250, to bring the total scrappage allowance to €3,500. See www.peugeot.ie.

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