Buying a second-hand family car

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6 of the best family cars to buy for around £8000
Family cars come in all shapes and sizes: compact hatchbacks, big estates, executive saloons, seven-seater people carriers and 4x4s. So which should you choose when buying second-hand?

Well, a lot depends on the size of your family and what you get up to. If you have four kids, live in the countryside and often take them horse riding, for example, seven seats, four-wheel drive and diesel pulling power are probably essential. But town-based one-child families can get away with something smaller, cheaper and petrol-powered.

We’ve covered all the bases as we round up six of the best family cars for £8,000.
Skoda Superb Mk2
Skoda Superb Mk2
eBay loves: Vast estate, great value, strong diesels
Watch out for: Tired former taxis, emissions could be lower

The original Skoda Superb was a super-sized VW Passat, but the Mk2 has a more individual look. It stands out with its neat touches, from the clever TwinDoor that converts the saloon’s boot lid to a hatchback at the pull of a lever, to the umbrellas stored inside the rear passenger doors.
And family buyers can’t argue with the space on offer, especially in the estate from 2010 with its class-leading 633-litre boot capacity that can be expanded to 1,865 litres by folding the rear seats. The Superb also has a high-quality feel throughout and is as reliable as any other Skoda. It also comes with plenty of kit, including air-con, alloys and cruise control. Go for SE specification and you get parking sensors and a CD changer, too.

What should I go for: An £8,000 budget buys a 70,000-mile 59-reg 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel SE saloon, or a higher-mile, lower-spec 60-reg estate.
BMW 5 Series E60
BMW 5 Series E60
eBay loves: Brilliant to drive, efficient diesels
Watch out for: Owner stereotype, check all electrics work

When new, the E60 BMW 5 Series was one of the best cars in the world and £8,000 can get you a tidy second-hand example. It’s since been replaced, but this BMW is still a really classy choice and if you go for the 235bhp 3.0-litre 530d diesel (a 100,000-mile 56-reg car is within reach), you get 0 to 62mph in under seven seconds and over 40mpg fuel consumption.
The interior is comfortable and superbly built, with the iDrive control system giving easy access to an array of standard functions. There’s plenty of space, too, especially if you buy an E61 Touring estate that stretches boot size to 1,650 litres. Both saloon and estate models are brilliant fun to drive, as well as luxurious and solidly built.
Volkswagen Golf Mk6
Volkswagen Golf Mk6
eBay loves: Great image, solid build quality, reliable
Watch out for: Expensive, not that much fun to look at or drive

You can’t have a list of the best family car buys without mentioning the VW Golf. Although it’s smaller than the rest of our top picks, it stands out with its solid-gold image, brilliant build and superb reliability.
For £8,000, you’ll have to make do with a previous-generation Mk6, but this is still a fine family hatchback. Pick from capable turbo petrol and diesel engines, and go for at least SE spec to get a decent tally of kit — this includes cruise control and alloys. The classy interior is also reasonably spacious.
Other compact family cars are more exciting to look at and more fun to drive, but none does everything as well as the Golf. Plus it’s guaranteed to retain its value
Renault Grand Scenic
Renault Grand Scenic
eBay loves: Roomy seven-seater, efficient diesels
Watch out for: Cheap cabin trim, flaky reliability record

The Renault Scenic has sat near the top of the family car class ever since it invented the compact MPV back in 1996. There’s now a standard five-seat Scenic and a seven-seater Grand Scenic, and if you spend £8,000, you can get your hands on a 60-reg pre-facelift Grand.
The rearmost seats are only really for children, but when they’re folded into the floor, they give a useful 564-litre boot capacity. And the three middle-row seats tumble forward or can be removed altogether.
There’s a choice of punchy turbo petrol engines and efficient diesels, but we’d go for the 1.6 dCi. We’d also aim for at least the Privilege specification. The cabin plastics don’t have the durable feel as some rivals and Renaults don’t have the best reputation for reliability, but find a Grand Scenic with a good service history and it’ll offer all the space and flexibility you’ll need.
Land Rover Discovery 3
Land Rover Discovery 3
eBay loves: Great image, peerless off-road, seven-seater practicality
Watch out for: Reliability issues, costly to run

Capable off-roader, luxury limo, and seven-seater family car — the Land Rover Discovery is all these things rolled into one. And for £8,000, the revolutionary Discovery 3 just comes within reach.
This car combined an amazingly practical yet luxurious interior with a smooth driving experience on the road and the brand’s usual imperious abilities off it. Most are 2.7-litre TDV6 diesels and while these are a bit sluggish compared to the rare 4.4-litre petrol V8s, they’re far less thirsty.
Whichever you choose, look out for off-road damage and reliability issues on some early cars, which suffered everything from cruise-control glitches to the electric tailgate not latching properly. Still, if you can find a cared-for Discovery 3 with a good service history and a reasonable mileage, it should hold its value well. It won’t be cheap to run, but for a big family living out in the sticks, there is no better car.
Ford Mondeo Mk4
Ford Mondeo Mk4
eBay loves: Spacious, great value, fun to drive
Watch out for: Low-spec entry models, high-mileage ex-fleet cars

The current Ford Mondeo has been on sale since 2007 and its imminent replacement is long overdue. But this will make the outgoing car even more tempting second-hand, as it’s always suffered from heavy depreciation.
Even after seven years in showrooms, the Mk4 Mondeo still looks smart and its vast dimensions mean plenty of interior space for the family — more so if you go for the estate with its 1,733-litre boot. Better still, £8,000 will buy a 59 or 10-reg 2.0-litre diesel Titanium or Titanium X, with part-leather and sports seats. Look out for optional safety features like lane keep and blind spot assistance, too.
The Mondeo also remains one of the finest family cars to drive, so if you’re going to hold on to it for a few years and don’t mind watching its value drop further, this is a great buy.
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