People shifters: the best used 7-seaters for £7k
Need to carry your family and their stuff? Here's how to do it brilliantly for sensible cashYou have a houseful of kids – and a busy life. Any ‘regular’ car that has just five seats just won’t do. But we’ve good news, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk. No longer will buying a seven-seater bust your budget, the latest breed of multi-=seaters are pretty good to drive, too.
Just £7000 will get you any one of a clutch of models. Whichever you choose will be just a handful of years old and should last a good few more. It promises to be smooth, quiet, comfy and safe, too.
Here are the ones we at motors.co.uk think you should look at for the money:
Volkswagen Touran 1.9 TDi 105bhp S
2005, 05-reg, 42,000 miles, £6995
This is the classiest from our line-up here, the smoothest riding and the best to drive. Tourans are snapped up quickly for all these fine reasons, even at prices which are above those of rivals. Like the others here, the seating layout is 2:3:2 and the back two drop easily into the boot floor until needed. But to do this you must first remove the headrests and pop them into a lidded box set into the boot floor, which is a faff. Passenger space is great in the front and mid rows. The mid-row seats tip to let those using the rears clamber in and out, but they need to be agile and fairly short to do this comfortably.
The seats and cabin fittings are tough and of high quality. Equipment on our S model is reasonable: air conditioning, six airbags, anti-lock brakes and alloy wheels comes as standard. There are also drawers under the seats, bins let into the floor, a huge glove box and a handy dash-top storage bin.
The Touran drives sweetly although the 1.9 diesel is rattly. But it will return 50mpg easily on a long run, even if loaded with people and things.
Vauxhall Zafira 16i Life
2006, 06-reg, 35,000 miles, £7000
For quick switching between seven seats and five, the Zafira is first choice here. The two rearmost seats drop into the boot floor is seconds and – like the others here – you can use one back seat and use the remaining space for luggage.
The Zafira is also one of the easiest seven-seaters to drive, thanks to its car-like at-wheel position and good, easy view out. But it dsn’t ride as sweetly as the Touran and more road ripples let themselves be heard and felt in the cabin. Its big, oddly shaped hand brake lever can be off-putting at first, too.
Still, it’s good value second-hand. Here we’ve gone for a 1.6 petrol engine model because for us this is the best choice: this motor is smooth, willing and will return up to 40mpg over a long distance. This mid-level model has all you need: six airbags, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, alloy wheels, remote locking and a quality stereo CD.
Renault Grand Scenic 1.5 dCi Dynamique
2006, 06-reg, 42,000 miles £6995
The Scenic comes in two flavours, the regular car (which has five seats), called just ‘Scenic’ and the ‘Grand Scenic’ (which has seven). The Grand has more space between the front and rear wheels and a longer body to free space for the extra seats and to make the boot bigger, too. It’s not the sharpest to drive and at the wheel it’s more ‘sit up and beg’ than some of the others but its supple ride makes long journeys comfortable.
The cabin is light and airy, making it a soothing place to spend time, while equipment levels are high if you go for our Dynamique model. Six airbags, anti-lock brakes, climate controlled air conditioning, alloy wheels, a quality stereo and remote locking all come as part of the deal. Like others here, the rearmost seats drop into the floor until needed.
Mazda 5 1.8 TS2 2006
06-reg, 60,000 miles £6995
The only one here to have sliding rear/side doors. That and Mazda’s reputation for building cars that stay trouble-free may be enough to have some buyers ready to snap up this one without even a second glance at the others. The good thing about doors that slide is that they make entry/exit for passengers so much easier in tight parking spaces. It is also less of a chore for those using the rearmost seats to reach their places. The %’s relatively low-set driving position, precise steering and revvy 1.8 petrol engine make it a pleasure to drive, although its suspension is set more firmly than some others here.
Not only do its rear seats drop into the floor, you can whisky away the centre mid-row seat into storage within the bases of its two neighbours, so that it becomes a really roomy four seater with generous luggage space. The downside is that the centre rear perch is thinly padded and not too comfy for longer trips.
Which of these four should you buy? It’s close run but, all considered, we think the Touran edges it as the best all-rounder. It may be dearer than some others here – but we think it’s worth it.
For more great car buying advice – and to view and buy any of the cars we’ve just told you about – go to motors.co.uk