Back to School shopping is upon us once again which means the summer holidays are officially drawing to a close. It also means that you'll be going back to doing the school run. Your car needs to have enough space to transport everyone comfortably and fit all of their bags, PE kits and whatever else they need on any given day. Completing the school run also means that you probably won't be driving very far, but will almost definitely be driving on congested roads. As a result, you will need a car that produces a decent miles per gallon ratio and doesn't guzzle your fuel. Finally, just because you're a parent doesn't mean that you can't have a car that's fun; not every journey will be the school run.
We've taken a look at all of our cars and come up with a list that we think are most suited to help you complete the school run every Monday - Friday.
We'll start with a narrow category that won't apply to everyone, but will be the only option for some. If you have a big family or you offer to take other kids to school, you might need more than four passenger seats so have a 7-seater is essential.
There are some fantastic cars on the market including the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso. A multi-award winner in the 7-seater category, the Grand C4 Picasso has an elongated wheelbase which means that everyone has got enough legroom to stretch out in. Also, if you don't need the back two seats on any given day, they fold flat quickly and easily to increase the boot space from 632 litres to 793 litres.
It is full of innovative features such as the hands-free tailgate. Standard on Flair trim level, you can get access to the boot without your hands by moving your foot in front of the sensor under the rear bumper.
In terms of fuel consumption, the diesel BlueHDi 100 S&S engine offers best in class figures of 74.3mpg with 16" alloy wheels. Alternatively, the PureTech petrol engine available was named 'Engine of the Year' in 2015 and 2016.
Other 7-seaters on offer include the Nissan X-Trail, Renault Grand Scenic, Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and Ford S-Max. The X-Trail is originally built as a 5-seater, but can be upgraded to include two additional seats. As a result it can be more fun to drive, but passengers in the third row may have less space than in purpose-built 7-seater models. Similarly the Ford S-Max delivers greater driving pleasure than the Grand C4 Picasso because of its sporty edge, whereas the Grand Scenic and Zafira Tourer have a range of friendly features such as 'Magic Folding' seats and a Flex 7 seating system respectively.
Not so long ago, this was a fledgling vehicle category and now most manufacturers have a few different models in their range that can fit this description. Crossovers and SUVs provide a higher position on the road for added safety and a raised seating position for better visibility. They also boast more space than traditional hatchbacks.
Perhaps the most desirable SUV on the market currently is the European Car of the Year 2017, the Peugeot 3008 SUV. Completely redesigned from the previous 3008, this new version is longer and lower with a boot space of 520 litres, capable of increasing to the largest in the C-segment SUV category.
As standard the 3008 SUV receives Peugeot's innovative i-Cockpit with an 8" capacitive touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Screen. It is packed with helpful technology such as a colour reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and 3D Connected TomTom Live satellite navigation.
The 1.6 BlueHDi 100 S&S diesel engine is the best performer in the range producing 67.3mpg. You can choose between manual and automatic options in both petrol and diesel with a total of nine options available.
Alternative options to the 3008 SUV are the Nissan Qashqai, Dacia Duster, Kia Sportage or Skoda Yeti. Each of these models are popular in their own right and provide plenty of space and equipment to rival the Peugeot. Recently updated, the multi-award winning Qashqai is one of the best selling cars in the UK and is one of the few SUVs to be produced in the UK. The Duster is definitely the budget option, but it is an award winner in its own right with over two million units sold since its launch. Kia's Sportage, as with all their models, is available with a 7 year warranty from new. Finally, the Yeti may not look as stylish as the other cars mentioned above, however, what it lacks in looks, it makes up for with a spacious and versatile interior.
Once upon a time, the Executive car category comprising Saloon, Estate and Station Wagon cars was one of the most popular. However, with the rise of the Crossover and SUV segment, Executive cars have become less fashionable, but they still have a purpose to fulfill and could be an excellent choice for your school run, depending on what else you use the car for.
There are two ends of the scale with this category. On the one hand, you have the premium and luxury executive cars built for the top earning business executives driving up and down the country with a host of technology and comfort upgrades. On the other hand, you have the more affordable and reasonably priced executive cars on the market to satisfy other business executives that perhaps don't have the budget for a luxury car.
One of the big advantages of an Executive car is their fuel consumption. Take, for example, the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 1.6 (110PS) Turbo D ecoTEC which is able to achieve a combined MPG up to 70.6 making it a perfect company car. The boot has 490 litres of space and the driver's seat offers heating and massage functions so that you can relax into a comfortable position.
As standard, it comes equipped with a 7" colour touchscreen and Vauxhall's pioneering OnStar service that is on board to help keep you and your family connected and safe with its range of features.
If you don't fancy the Insignia Grand Sport, you could opt for the Peugeot 308 SW, Fiat Tipo SW, Renault Megane Sport Tourer or, if you have the funds, a Tesla Model S. Both the 308 SW and Tipo SW are elongated versions of the smaller 308 and Tipo hatchbacks respectively. The Tipo is available at a much cheaper price and while it may not look as fancy as some of its competitors, it is surprisingly fun to drive and offers exceptional space. While more expensive, the 308 is more of a looker, especially since its recent facelift; it also comes packed with a lot more technology than the Tipo. The Megane Sport Tourer has been forged from Renault's motor racing background and benefits from the company's expertise in Sport models. As a result, you can be sure of an entertaining journey every time you get behind the Sport Tourer's wheel. Finally, we come to the Model S which is the most expensive car on this list by a country mile, and the only electric vehicle. Obviously, it's not a possible purchase for most people, but if you can afford something in this price bracket, then it will definitely help to cut down on running costs while also being full of fun and interesting technology.
Perhaps the most common type of car on the road is the humble hatchback. Defined as a car body type with a rear door/hatch (normally referred to as the boot) that opens upward to provide access to a cargo area.
A wide range of cars can come into this body style from small city cars (such as the Fiat 500), hot hatchbacks (like the Abarth 695) and superminis (the Peugeot 208, for example).
One of the best selling cars in the UK, the Vauxhall Corsa, falls into the supermini sub category and makes a compelling argument as the perfect school run car. Because of its smaller size compared to a SUV or Executive car, it is naturally less expensive starting from £10,635 (in 3 door).
The Corsa comes equipped with energy efficient engines with the 1.3 CDTi (95PS) S/S ecoFlex claiming to produce up to 80.7mpg in a combined cycle. The Stop/Start function helps to reduce fuel consumption and the eco drive assist tells you the optimum times to shift gears.
It's a fun car to drive behind the wheel and fun to look at with a range of vibrant exterior colours and personalisation options that aren't often available on 7-seaters, Crossovers and Executive cars.
Alongside the Corsa in terms of popularity has to be the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf in this category. Similar cars include the Renault Clio, Nissan Micra, Citroën C3 and Dacia Sandero. All of these cars are very similar in terms of size but vary on standard equipment and price. The Sandero has won WhatCar? Car Of The Year Under £12,000 for five years running now and is definitely a fantastic car to buy if you're on a tight budget. If however, you have a little bit more cash to splash, the C3, Micra and Clio provide a good deal of passenger space, excellent equipment and competitive mpg figures.