Top Gear's Top 10 family cars
There’s more to family cars than harassed parents vainly refereeing unruly kids
Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio
It’s an Alfa. You have therefore successfully bucked the trend of every single downtrodden suburban family and invested in excitement. The Giulia was previously Top Gear’s Car of the Year and it’s still our pick of the class, especially with the 503bhp twin-turbo V6 that nestles in the Quadrifoglio’s engine bay. Sitting on a new rear-wheel drive chassis, the Quadrifoglio has immediately righted the wrongs of the last 20 years of Alfa mediocrity. Trick dampers mean that it actually rides well, so there’s a compliance here that lets you wring much more out of the car – and helps your passengers stop feeling sick. Hopefully. Now Alfa, we’re a bit short of luggage space. Sort us out an estate version, would you?Advertisement - Page continues below
Estate cars are cool. And Audi has long been the ultimate authority on fast estates. Step forward their latest: the RS6. Only the front doors, roof and tailgate are shared with a boggo A6, so even your most myopic neighbour should be able to applaud your choice and coo over the bulges, slats and stance of your thoroughly spacious and practical new car. Up front, there’s a bi-turbo V8 producing 592bhp and 590lb ft, allowing the RS6 to see off the 0-62mph sprint in just 3.6 seconds. And, unlike the last one, this comes with cylinder de-activation, a coasting mode and 48V mild hybrid assistance. What more could a family want?
Fancy reading a full review of the Audi RS6? Click these blue words.
Alpina B3 Touring
A knowing wink of a car, the Alpina B3. You could have bought a BMW 3 Series Touring, but you like to be subtly different. And you win. Because while a BMW 3 Series Touring is a highly excellent car, the moment we discovered that Alpina had dropped a twin-turbo straight six into a Touring body, we knew we’d found the real Ultimate Family Machine. Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto, top speed is 186mph and it’ll have 0-62mph done in 3.9secs. For a final flourish, go for the dark emerald green metallic paint and silver, 20-spoke wheels. None of those fashionista, smoked-grey alloys for you – parents know better.Advertisement - Page continues below
This is the school gate winner – no children’s lungs were harmed in the silent, pollution-less wafting of the Jaguar I-Pace. Because for once Jaguar was ahead of the curve, beating all its key European rivals to market with an electric SUV. And what’s more, it smashed it out of the park. Recognisably still a Jag, but with braver styling than the bland Audi E-Tron and blobby Mercedes EQC, the I-Pace claims a 298-mile range (somewhat optimistically), 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and a charging time of 45 minutes (if you can find a 100kW DC supply). And because the wheels have been pushed to the extremities – batteries are handy for packaging – you’ll find the car has the interior room from the class above. Little Johnny and his chums will be delighted.
Read the full review of the Jaguar I-Pace by clicking these blue words.
Land Rover Discovery
It’s hard to think of a car more suited to absorbing the entirety of family life, whether you live in the extremities of Scotland or the rat runs of the Home Counties. Pity the poor Top Gear office, then, because every time a new Discovery is launched, we sit around scratching our heads wondering how we’re going to test the latest one to its limits. Short of sticking the thing on Mars, it will cope with absolutely everything we, and any other family, can throw at it. Massive boot, comfy ride, all the tech and entertainment equipment the most ADHD-child could ever want, and a level of off-road ability that will cope with the meanest kerbs that a school run can muster. You need one car to absorb literally every aspect of your family? You’ll need a Disco.
Read the full review of a Land Rover Discovery by clicking here.
Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
Family cars should be four-wheel drive (cuts down on little Julio’s excuses for missing school). Family cars should seat at least four. Family cars should have big boots (and ideally bespoke luggage to maximise packaging). Step forward our most sensible suggestion yet – the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. With either a V12 or V8 engine up front (only the V12 is 4WD, mind), there is no finer, or more gently antagonistic way to arrive at the school gates. What’s more, this latest version is kinder on young ears – Ferrari has made it quieter at start-up. So everyone can rest easy when you’ve got an early dash to football practice on a Sunday morning.
Read the Top Gear full review of the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso by clicking here.
Time was when Peugeot couldn’t even make a cool hot hatch. But not anymore – now, even their family-focussed cars are dripping in desire. OK, maybe that’s a bit strong, but you get our point. The latest 3008 improves on the blobby first generation with sharper styling, more tech inside and much higher quality everywhere. It’s still got the raised ride height of the first gen, so getting younger kids in the back is an easy case of sliding them across rather than dropping them down or lifting them up – trust us, your chiropractor will thank you. But with an SUV-esque look (no 4WD here) and Peugeot’s latest infotainment system, it’s now a car where the kids won’t ask to be dropped off around the corner.
Read the full review of the Peugeot 3008 by clicking here.Advertisement - Page continues below
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
We can sympathise with your dilemma. You had a 911, but the kids are now too big for the weeny back seats, and their musical instruments can’t be reduced to kit form for the front boot. You’ve thought about a Macan, but someone down the road bought one of those for their 50th. The Cayenne is a bit too … well, SUV, so what to do? May we recommend the Panamera Sport Turismo. And specifically the Turbo S E-Hybrid, truly one of the best reasons for mating electricity to petrol and stuffing it all in a wagon’d, four-wheel drive Porsche. The Sport Turismo is a properly handsome thing and with four, full-sized seats (plus a miniature fifth for occasional use), it’s an incredible thing for family life. It’ll swallow the kids and their cricket/netball gear, but will also do 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. Bonkers. And brilliant.
Read the Top Gear full review of the Porsche Panamera by clicking here.
Named, we’d like to think, after the enormous Kodiak bear that rumbles around various bits of the Alaskan wilderness, the Kodiaq is a previous Top Gear Awards winner. And no wonder. With the footprint of a smaller car and the interior space of a larger one – how does Skoda keep managing this trick? – it’s a perfect family car. Small(ish) and nimble enough to navigate around the school gates, big enough to absorb seven people. What’s more, with a 2.5-tonne towing capacity and the option of four-wheel drive, it’ll even cope with the annual family caravanning trip to the South Coast. Sweet lord – a car that’s encouraging us to recommend caravanning. It must be good.
Fancy a full review of the Skoda Kodiaq? Click these blue words.Advertisement - Page continues below
The first XC90 redefined the family SUV. Featuring clever seats and a mere nod in the direction of off-road ability, it absolutely nailed the prevailing zeitgeist and was still selling by the bucket load well over 10 years after it first went on sale. That’s a geological timescale in modern car terms. Somehow, though, Volvo has improved on it and made the current one even more appealing. A lot of that is to do with styling – there isn’t an undesirable car in Volvo’s range at the moment. But it’s also kept what was great about the previous one – a very clever seating set-up – and married it to a much better set of modern engines and an interior style that’s got lashings of Scandi-cool. There are few finer ways to ferry your brood around.
Read a Top Gear full review on the Volvo XC90 by clicking these blue words.