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Cars: Best used family cars: Audi A3 tops the list on an average budget

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Parents have given their verdict on the best second hand family cars to buy, with the Audi A3 hatchback named the top choice ahead of models from Honda, Fiat, BMW and VW.

It topped the list of recommendations collated from a survey of 2,000 drivers with children under the age of 16, taking into account the average parents' budget and their general needs for a practical motor.

But drivers are warned that buying now means they could be paying through the nose, with the values of the top 10 second hand models rising by between 13 and 35 per cent in the last 12 months.

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The recent spike in values, caused by increased demand on the back of short supply of new models, means the top-choice Audi A3 Sportback would have cost £11,500 on average one year ago.

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But today  - with an extra 10,000 miles on the clock - it is selling for an average of £14,750.

The panel of parents provided specific criteria for the used cars they would recommend to other motorists with kids.

A third said they wanted a petrol engine, with hybrids the next most popular fuel type option (20 per cent) with just one in ten saying they'd go for a diesel.

A hatchback or SUV were the body styles most in demand for parents, while the average budget was set at £15,500 and parents wanted cars no older than six years that have covered an average of 10,000 miles per year.

For that amount they also wanted a car with bags of practicality, low running costs and good fuel economy - the three main criteria requested.

Audi was the most desirable brand for parents, ahead of Fiat, BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and Mercedes, according to the CarGurus family car study.

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With this specific list of requirements, a 2017 Audi A3 1.0-litre TFSI was the top choice option.

Top 10 used family cars according to CarGurus - and how much they've risen in price in a year
Rank Car Avg value Nov 2020 Avg value Nov 2021 Avg value increase (£) Avg value increase (%)
1 Audi A3 Sportback 1.0 TFSI (2012-2019) £11,500 £14,750 £3,250 28.3%
2 Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo (2016-) £12,250 £15,450 £3,200 26.1%
3 Honda HR-V 1.5 VTEC (2015-2019) £11,200 £13,900 £2,700 24.1%
4 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 218i (2014-) £10,450 £13,300 £2,850 27.3%
5 Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI (2013-2021) £10,550 £13,150 £2,600 24.6%
6 Fiat 500X 1.0 Turbo (2014-2019) £8,675 £11,250 £2,575 29.7%
7 Toyota C-HR 1.2 petrol (2016-2020) £11,700 £14,950 £3,250 27.8%
8 Mercedes B-Class B180 (2012-2019) £12,450 £15,700 £3,250 26.1%
9 BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 218i 7-seats (2015-2021) £11,950 £16,100 £4,150 34.7%
10 Kia Carens 1.6 GDI 7-seat (2013-2019) £10,200 £11,550 £1,350 13.2%
Source: Top 10 ranking decided by CarGurus. Value data provided by cap hpi for each model based on cars that are 3 years old with 30,000 miles on the clock today

Fitting much of the criteria, Car Gurus said its smooth and efficient 1.0-litre TFSI petrol engine, five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and real-world fuel economy of 50mpg made it the top choice.

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However, the A3 is a model in big demand on the used market and one of the cars that has risen in price in the last year.

Valuations experts at cap hpi said a three-year-old A3 has risen in value by 28.3 per cent in the last year, with second-hand prices increasing by £3,250.

And the year-on-year rise in values isn't exclusive for the A3, with Auto Trader reporting a week ago that average used prices had risen for an 80th consecutive week and a second hand car is now 27 per cent more expensive than it was in November 2020.

Other cars on the parents' wishlist are the Honda Civic 1.0 VTEC Turbo and the HR-V 1.5 VTEC, BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 218i, Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI, Fiat 500X 1.0 Turbo, Toyota C-HR 1.2, and Mercedes B-Class B180.

Meanwhile, for families with three or more children, the study identified the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer 218i and Kia Carens 1.6 GDI as the seven-seater models that best meet their requirements.

The study revealed that two thirds of parents view their family car purely as a tool to get them from A to B rather than having an emotional attachment.

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When it came to the birth of their first child, just 34 per cent said their vehicle was perfectly suitable ahead of their arrival.

Just over a fifth bought a new car before the birth in preparation, while 16 per cent splashed out shortly after the newborn's arrival.

It also emerged that two thirds view fitting a child seat as an awkward task, and when families are on the move, 48 per cent of parents claim their children regularly distract them when in the car.

Overall, more than a third of parents surveyed said they currently don't have a vehicle which is entirely suitable as a family car.

Chris Knapman, editor at CarGurus, said: 'Using this research, we have created a buying guide that puts parents' requirements as the priority.

'When analysing the survey results, our team of expert reviewers – who are parents, too – sought to balance the need for practicality, safety and low running costs with the preferences expressed for certain brands.

'And in the previous generation Audi A3 Sportback, which best suits the average family's criteria, parents get an excellent all-round car that does everything very well.'

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