Best buys - family SUVs: Peugeot’s seven-seater still our star

Of the rest, VW has a tempting offer in the larger Tiguan Allspace

 

Best in class: Peugeot 5008

There’s a bit of crossover (pardon the pun) between the family crossover and family SUV markets - in some cases one is just a seven-seat version of t’other, but they’re distinct enough to be able to classify them as separate types now. The Peugeot 5008 is a perfect example of this - yes, it’s a stretched, seven-seat 3008, but then again it’s also a little more than that. The taller, longer, styling at the rear, and the more upright front end really suit the car and give it a slightly more patrician air. Inside, there’s the same cabin that mixes tweed and digital screens to such good effect, but also lots of space, and (rare in this sector) seven seats as standard. 1.2 PureTech petrol engine is fine for those staying in town, but for longer hauls you’re going to want the 1.5 BlueHDI diesel, really. Chassis balance is good, but as with the 3008 the ride could be slightly less spiky at times.

Best one: Allure 1.5 BlueHDI 130hp for €36,390

Prices: From €30,130. Finance from €316 per month.

In two words: Bon espace.

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Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

As ever with VW Group cars, you can take what we say here as read for the Skoda Kodiaq and the Seat Tarraco, but just subtract a suitable discount from the VW’s slightly inflated price tag. The Tiguan has been a huge success for VW - in Ireland it’s actually out-selling the Golf now, which must be a happy, happy day for Wolfsburg’s accountants. It’s a better-than-decent car too, especially in Allspace form which gets you a longer wheelbase, a bigger boot, and the option of extra seats back there. Yes, the option - you’ll pay €1,000 extra for seats six and seven (ditto Skoda and Seat on that one) which seems odd when the Pug 5008 gives you them all-in. Ah well, never mind the seats, feel the quality. Feel the calm, assured chassis and steering too, but to make the Tiguan look good you really need to pony up for R-Line trim, which isn’t cheap. Avoid the 2.0-litre diesel/DSG automatic combo or you’ll find it’s way to sluggish in traffic.

Best one: R-Line 2.0 TDI manual for €45,750

Prices: From €32,195 (Tiguan), €37,295 (Tiguan Allspace). Finance from POA per month.

In two words: Everything’s extra.

Hyundai Santa Fe

You’re more or less moving up another class with the Santa Fe - it’s a big seven-seater, very American in its style (hardly surprising considering that’s one of Hyundai’s biggest markets) and it’s not cheap as a basic model. Then again, it’s not that basic, and you’re essentially getting a bigger, arguably more prestigious car for the same price as a decent-spec Tiguan. What you’re really getting are refinement and comfort as these are the Santa Fe’s greatest strengths. Those front seats are more akin to armchairs, while the quietness is truly impressive. So’s cabin quality, although in spite of the generously-proportioned exterior, those back seats are strictly for kids only. The handling is surprisingly good - it’s not a sports car (not even close) but not as floppy as you’d think in the twisty bits. The drawback? Only one engine choice, and it’s a big 2.2-litre with relatively high emissions. If you can get past that hurdle, this is a terrific car.

Best one: Santa Fe Executive Plus for €45,995

Prices: From €42,995. Finance from €444 per month.

In two words: Santa, baby.

Wild Card: Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 kind of exists in a slight middle-ground between the likes of the Qashqai and Tucson, and the larger cars in this class. Its price almost dips down to Qashqai levels, but it feels (and is) a much bigger, more substantial car. In fact, if seven seats is not a priority for you, then I think it’s the one we’d go for out of anything in the family crossover or SUV segments. It looks fabulous (the Soul Crystal Red paint is a must-have) and has terrific quality inside. The cabin is, perhaps, a touch plain (especially compared to the lovely interior of the Mazda 6) but it’s abidingly comfy and equipment levels are good. Space in the back is decent, but the CX-5’s trump card is how it drives. Which is to say, with beautiful precision and a sense of deft control that’s rare in any segment, not to mind SUVs and crossovers. The only major drawback is that the infotainment system looks and feels (and is) old-hat, but hopefully that will be updated shortly with the improved version from the Mazda 3 hatchback. 2.2 diesel is sweet, and much more frugal than it used to be, but the 2.0 petrol feels a touch breathless here.

Best one: CX-5 2.2d 150hp Platinum for €39,775

Prices: From €29,495. Finance from €308 per month.

In two words: Handling champ.