What makes the best small family car lease? This depends on what your priorities are – there are many different features, characteristics, and personal preferences that will make your life easier when travelling with a family.
If you’re not looking for an SUV or crossover, small family cars are the perfect option for those who value practicality but don't want or need something too big.
Here, we take a look at the top 10 best small family cars.
1. Volkswagen Golf
This family hatchback certainly sets the benchmark for the rest in this category. The Volkswagen Golf’s name precedes itself and compares to the likes of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. There’s a reason VW has released eight generations of the Golf, with its dynamic driving experience, unfaltering practicality, and excellent refinement.
The 1.5 TSI 150 engine offers 148bhp and 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds, giving this family car plenty of urgency for a good price. For those wanting maximum efficiency, you can choose between a mild hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, the latter offering up to 44 miles of electric-only power. The VW Golf handles excellently and makes well for town driving – the steering is sharp and light, making the car feel agile.
There is plenty of room inside the Golf in the front and back as well as storage compartments for your gadgets and drinks. The headroom is generous, allowing adults to fit inside comfortably.
2. SEAT Leon
The SEAT Leon is a well-rated family hatchback that is fantastic to drive with plenty of space for the kids and your luggage. A sporty yet affordable small family car with cutting-edge technology and a big, clear touchscreen, the Leon bodes well for those wanting a stylish family car.
The Leon shares many parts with the Golf, which make the driving experience as fun and dynamic as you’d expect, and the general refinement excellent. It’s easy to manoeuvre and has great visibility, especially when assisted with optional reversing cameras.
There are many engine sizes to choose from, with the 2.0-litre 190hp petrol engine being the fastest, reaching 62mph in 7.4 seconds. There’s a plug-in hybrid option available too.
The newest Leon is a little larger than before and offers more space. Upgrade the hatchback to the estate version and luggage space increases massively, from 380 litres in the former to 620 litres in the latter.
3. Vauxhall Astra Hatchback
It isn't surprising that this is one of the most popular cars among British drivers. The Vauxhall Astra Hatchback is a practical family car that has enough space for five adults, making it perfect for growing families and all of the baggage that comes with them – specifically, a 370-litre boot space.
The Astra is the pinnacle of value-for-money family motoring and is jam-packed with safety features. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, steering correction, drowsiness detection, and cameras that read road signs make the Astra a smart choice for families.
4. Mercedes A-Class
The Mercedes A-Class is certainly one of the most stylish on this list without compromising on practicality. There is plenty of space in the back for a full row of passengers as well as a 355-litre boot with the rear seats up, or nearly 1,200 with them folded down. There is plenty of comfort to be had in this family car, with lots of adjustable features to make driving or being a passenger in the A-Class an enjoyable experience.
Performance is impressive, with the A-Class available as petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid models. It handles well with light steering making it agile and fun to drive. Visibility is excellent too, with a reversing camera and parking sensors coming as standard.
5. Dacia Sandero
The Dacia Sandero is probably THE best value-for-money new car vehicle on sale today, making it a fantastic choice for family buyers whose priority is budget. It comes with an easy choice of two trim levels: entry-level Essential or Comfort. There are two turbocharged engines, the TCe 90 petrol or TCe 100 Bi-Fuel, with both offering healthy performance and the former reaching 0-60mph in 11 seconds. The SCe 65 isn’t turbocharged and slightly slower.
The Sandero is one of the biggest small family cars with spacious leg and headroom. The boot has 328 litres of space which can be expanded by putting the seats down. You get rear parking sensors and a rearview camera as standard with the Essential trim, which is what we would recommend, as well as a DAB radio and Bluetooth to connect your phone.
6. Ford Focus Estate
Inexpensive to own with a host of high-tech features, the Ford Focus Estate is a superb small family car. There are a number of trim levels to match your budget and needs, as well as a range of petrol and diesel engines and two hybrids.
The latest version has a lot of space and can comfortably fit six-foot adults in the rear. The Focus Estate's 575-litre boot capacity makes it easy to transport any luggage your family will have, including a large buggy.
In all trims except the entry-level Trend trim, you get a huge 13.2-inch touchscreen. All trims come with a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and built-in satnav. If you're a music lover, we recommend the Vignale model for an excellent sound system.
7. Peugeot 2008
The bold Peugeot 2008 is a stylish and practical small family car that comes with some great tech features. Cheap to run and reliable, the Peugeot provides maximum comfort thanks to its smooth ride, but it's really good fun to drive, too. Inside, it feels high up, almost like you're in a full-sized SUV.
With 434 litres of boot capacity, you can fit plenty of luggage for a weekend away – including a buggy. It is reasonably economical and has scored well in owner reliability surveys.
8. Renault Captur
The Renault Captur was recently updated with a more refined, bold style. A practical feature of the Captur is the ability to slide the entire rear bench backwards and forwards as one, to increase either legroom or boot capacity. The 404-litre boot space can be increased to 536 litres by doing this.
The driving experience feels safe and reliable with precise steering, good grip on the roads, and stability while turning. Running costs are impressive and are cut even further with the plug-in hybrid option.
The interior build quality feels strong and comes with a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, DAB radio, and wireless phone charging.
9. Skoda Karoq
A Skoda Karoq lease puts you in one of the best small family cars for those needing space, an enjoyable ride, and a vehicle that is affordable to run. The Karoq's suspension works well to smooth bumps in the road and is even better on motorways. A perfect mixture of comfort and a sporty edge, this vehicle gives you plenty of confidence behind the wheel with light and accurate steering.
The large doors are wide and make fitting a child seat effortless. You can expect plenty of legroom and headspace, as well as 521 litres of boot space with the rear seats up which increases to 1,630 litres with them folded down.
10. Toyota Corolla
Any Toyotais a cast iron choice when it comes to a combination of reliability and good fuel economy, and the Corolla family hatchback is no exception. It's available with two petrol-electric 'self-charging' hybrid systems - meaning you don't have to plug it in - and both of them should give a real-world 50mpg. The higher powered 2.0-litre system is a genuine delight, though. It's quick, quiet and efficient, and it makes the car more fun to drive than you might expect from a hybrid.
The Corolla has plenty of rear leg space, a decent boot (albeit the 2.0-litre version's is a little smaller than the 1.8-litre model) and interior build quality that's up there with the very best.
There are plenty of family cars available for lease with Vanarama. Explore our website for fantastic deals and guides to help you choose the perfect family car.