Irish Times best buys: Family saloons
Whatever your budget or motoring needs, we identify the best in class, a few rivals to consider and what to buy used
Best in class: Skoda Superb
You have to admire just how closely Skoda flirted with hubris when it called its four-door saloon the Superb. Three generations in, though, and the name has never seemed more apt as this is a car with genuine and deep-lying talents. Cabin space has long been a USP of the Superb, and this version doesn’t disappoint. There’s lounging space in the back and a humungous 625-litre boot out the back. It’s well made too (although some early cars suffered from rattling trim) and well-priced. Although Skoda has been nudging its prices upwards, the Superb still represents value for money. It’s not huge fun to drive, and the cabin is a little plain, but it’s a superbly (sorry) satisfying car to own.
Best buy: Superb 2.0 TDI 150hp Ambition from €32,555. Prices start at €26,995.
PCP packages start from €282 a month.
Read the review: New Skoda Superb builds on a winning formula
Also try: Mazda 6
For all that the premium car makers have been encroaching on this family saloon class, the fact is that the mass-market manufacturers can still offer far better value for money and barely any less in terms of dynamics and quality. The Mazda 6 is proof of that fact - here is a car with as much interior space as a BMW 5 Series and a cabin that’s at least an equal, and often a superior, of anything from Stuttgart, Munich or Ingolstadt. It’s also beautifully balanced to drive, and if its 2.2-litre diesel engine is a little thirstier than is ideal, then at least it’s smooth and powerful. Handsome estate version is especially tempting.
Best buy: Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150hp from €32,695. Prices start at €29,295.
PCP packages start from €318 a month
A recent facelift has brought the i40’s styling a little more up to date. It’s always been a quietly handsome car, but now with its Audi-esque grille and piercing LED running lights, it’s really quite striking. You can’t quite say the same on the inside but everything’s well made, and neatly laid out so there’s nothing much about which to complain. The 1.7 CRDI diesel engine is a touch under-powered in basic form, but it’s exceptionally frugal in day-to-day driving. The handling is nothing tio write home about, but it’s very comfy and probably best sampled in its very good looking (and spacious) Tourer estate version.
Best buy: i40 Executive 1.7 CRDI Tourer from €29,995. Prices start at €26,495
PCP packages start from €285 a month
The Prius has long been a favourite of Dublin taxi drivers and those who feel that they need to make an environmental statement with their choice of car, but the latest version has bumped it up the list of regular car buyers. While you’ll have to get past styling that is at best oddball, beneath that is the best Prius yet. The hybrid powertrain now offers improved economy across a broader spread of driving styles, while the cabin is spacious and welcoming. It’s not bad to drive either, even if you could never call it exciting. And you don’t have to have a taxi licence anymore…
Best buy: Prius 1.8 Hybrid CVT from €31,450. Prices start at €31,450.
PCP packages start from €295 a month.
Ford Mondeo 2007 to 2014
When buying used it’s always comforting to have plenty of choice and there are few cars out there to choose more from than a Mondeo. From 1.6 diesels to the ultra-rare 2.5-litre turbo, you can find a Mondeo to suit your style and your budget. While not quite Japanese-reliable, this generation of Mondeo was well made, and superior in quality to the latest version. Watch for injector trouble on the 2.0 TDCI, flywheel failure, leaky crank seals and blown turbos. Steering racks and air conditioning condensers can also fail. Late-model estates, with the 140hp 2.0 TDCI make the best buys, and track down a Titanium for proper equipment levels.
Best buy: 2012 Mondeo 2.0 TDCI Estate for circa €14,000.