IMPENDING parenthood got a little bit more real the other day. I’ve been given a book to read on all the housework, gardening and general chores I’m supposed to be doing – but then a baby-friendly car seat arrived, courtesy of a mask-donning delivery man.
It’s been sat in the corner of the Simister living room ever since, almost staring at me and asking me what car it’s going to be strapped into. I suspect that – unless there’s some massive mechanical mishap between now and the due date – it’s almost certainly going to be my 22-year-old Toyota Avensis that does the all-important task of transporting the new arrival home for the first time. Yes, I know it’s not the most inspiring car in which to make sure an important voyage, but the Scimitar GTE doesn’t have seatbelts for its rear seats, and the MX-5 doesn’t have back seats at all. Besides, my first ever car journey was in the back of a Volvo 343, and it hasn’t had the slightest effect on me being a car nut.
But what I’m trying to figure out is what set of family-friendly wheels I should snap up once I’m festooned with all the pushchairs, travel cots, bottle sets, spare nappies and all the other parental paraphernalia that seems to be required kit when you’re raising a small child – back in the late Eighties the aforementioned small Volvo was absolutely fine, but for some reason there now seems to be unspoken rule that you must have some sort of small crossover in order to lug all this stuff about. Sorry, but I just can’t do it.
So I’ve been looking at cheap family cars with a whiff of petrolhead credibility instead. My initial thoughts were to get a Vauxhall Zafira GSi Turbo – if you’re going to buy an MPV, at least make it a really fast one – but a quick look through the classifieds revealed that there are only two for sale across the whole of the UK, and they’re both knocking on the door of 150,000 miles. Same goes for the original Toyota Previa – it’s mid-engined and rear-wheel-drive, like a Ferrari F8 Tributo, but unlike the Italian supercar it’s absolutely massive.
I also can’t go for my favourite estate either; the Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon is beautiful to behold and in V6 form emits a guttural bellow that’ll leave your hairs standing up, but it also suffers the rather small foible of having less luggage space than the saloon it’s based on. The BMW 3-Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant and Mercedes C-Class Estate are out too – they look great and drive well, but I suspect they’re still not quite roomy enough for all the baby-orientated clobber that the pressures of parenthood require. Equally, I don’t think pockets are deep enough, especially at a time when everyone’s worried about their jobs, to have done with it and get an old Range Rover.
So having done far too much research into the subject I’m down to three load-luggers – Skoda’s Octavia vRS, Volvo’s V70 and the car every automotive snapper I know seems to swear by, Ford’s Mondeo Estate.
Which one would you go for? Answers in the comments, folks…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly