Best buys Family saloons: Mazda comes out tops in a dwindling market

Our favourites of the new family saloon cars on the market right now

BEST ONE: Mazda 6

The family saloon market has been decimated as buyers have deserted these traditional heartland cars for SUVs, crossovers,and the occasional premium-badge saloon. One wonders why many car makers still bother, but thankfully Mazda does, and its 6 is the best of the family four-doors still left. It looks utterly gorgeous for a start, as capable of turning heads as some Maseratis, and recent updates have seen the interior follow suit. Get your spec right and it can be as classy inside as a BMW. It’s sharp and rewarding to drive too, although you’ll have to stick with diesel as Mazda’s 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine is a touch disappointing.

Best model: 2.2d 150hp Tourer Executive SE for €32,695 Price range: €29,295 to €38,695. Finance from €290 per month CO2 emissions: 107 to 129g/km Sum up: 6 of the best


Skoda Superb

You could argue that the Volkswagen Passat deserves a slot here but then why would you buy the Passat when for slightly less money you can have exactly the same technology and engines, with more space slung out the back, in the Skoda Superb and all you’ve had to sacrifice is a little brand snobbery? Well, actually not quite all – the Skoda’s cabin isn’t quite as nicely put together as the VW and the Passat is fractionally sweeter to drive but the Superb wins out thanks to sheer interior volume, plus the fact that it’s comfy and reasonably refined to drive over long distances. Get the estate and you’ll never again lack for space.

Best model: 1.,4 TSI 150hp Style Estate for €36,650 Price range: €27,700 to €50,450. Finance from €259 per month CO2 emissions: 110 to 164g/km Sum up: Just as the name says…

Ford Mondeo

In spite of serious doubts over its future as a Ford model, the Mondeo remains a contender, not least because Ford has both ironed out the early build-quality issues and fitted the much-improved SYNC3 infotainment system. It’s still nowhere near as fun to drive as previous Mondeos, and the cabin’s quite plastic-y, but it’s soothingly comfortable on long journeys, roomy, and looks good on the outside. New hybrid is a worthy Prius alternative. Not cheap, though.

Best model: ST-Line 2.0 TDCI 150hp for €37,195 Price range: €28,845 to €50,480. Finance from €POA per month CO2 emissions: 99 to 141g/km Sum up: Endangered species?

Opel Insignia

The new Insignia should have been a chance for Opel to shout from the rooftops that not only is it under new management (now owned by PSA Peugeot Citroen) but that it has a gorgeous-looking replacement for one of its bestselling models. Sadly, the new Insignia landed with a bit of a splat, largely because its cabin doesn't look nor feel special enough, and nor does its chassis feel sharp enough. That said, it's not without charm, as it's roomy, refined, comfy and well built. Best model: 2.0 170hp Turbo D SRI for €35,300 Price range: €27,600 to €50,700. Finance from €467 per month CO2 emissions: 105 to 199g/km Sum up: Fleet fodder, but still decent.

WILD CARD: Volkswagen Arteon

And so back to take a Passat. Now stretch it so that it has the wheelbase from a Skoda Superb. Now add a fastback tailgate and a massive boot that (almost, kinda) turns it into an ersatz estate. Now pull the styling outward and downward, to make it look really gorgeous. Finally, add frameless doors and call it a coupe. That’s the Arteon. It’s the four-door coupe for those who want an Audi A5 Sportback with the interior space from a Superb, and the dashboard from a Passat. Odd, then, but also oddly appealing. Ruddy expensive, though.

Best model: R-Line 2.0 TDI 150hp for €44,650 Price range: €37,495 to €52,750 . Finance from €399 per month CO2 emissions: 116 to 152g/km Sum up: Brave but interesting choice

Incoming: Peugeot 508, Kia Optima facelift, Volkswagen Passat facelift