What makes a good car, a great family car?

Families come in all shapes and sizes, with a variety of needs depending on your situation. Maybe your family is growing so you need a bit more space, maybe one car just isn’t enough or maybe you just want to show off at the school gates.

Whatever your circumstances, at Exchange and Mart and s1cars we’ve got over 100,000 cars, from trusted dealers around the UK.

All about the space

Is your brood growing in numbers and you need to trade in your little runner for something with a bit more leg, and pram, room? Increasing car size doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style.  A 4×4 or SUV could be exactly what you’re looking for and there are options to suit any budget. Plus, many of them are packed with extra safety features to keep you and your little passengers safe.

Hyundai ix35 

Volkswagen Tiguan 

Range Rover 

The working car

There can be many reasons for needing a second car. It doesn’t always need to be for the family to use. Maybe your main car is the family car and you’re looking for something to get you to and from work? Something cheap, reliable and perfect for the city. Small cars are great for getting from A to B and often come in funky colours. They are also pretty economical, normally cheap to fill up and to ensure plus the monthly payments are reasonable which means you don’t need to break the bank. More often than not, due to their engine size, they can be of low or free road tax.

Skoda Citigo 

Toyota Aygo 

Fiat 500 

First-class family

There are plenty of family-sized cars out there with a more luxurious and executive feel – definitely ones to turn heads at the office and at the school gates. With these options you can get a car that is both practical and enjoyable to drive. It can be your working family car Monday to Friday but also fancy enough that it’s still a treat to drive even when you’re the only passenger. They can also be perfect cars for a weekend getaway for some ‘me time’ and good for impressing the boss!

Mercedes C-Class  

BMW 5 Series

Audi A6 

The green family

If your family car does a lot of driving, then maybe it’s time to start thinking green? With more and more electric and hybrid models being introduced to the market, going green is much easier and has more options than ever before. You don’t need to feel restricted on style and with more government funding being invested into charging points and developing our current infrastructure to cope with more electric vehicles, maybe it’s time to start thinking of the future. It will also reduce the pollution around child-friendly areas like parks and the school gates.

Nissan Leaf

Toyota Prius  

BMW i3 

With over 100,000 cars in stock from local, trusted dealers, no matter what your ideal family car is, you’ll find it at Exchange and Mart and s1cars.

What’s new from our favourite car brands?

AUDI

Audi’s range continues to expand. New in the showrooms are the latest generation A6 saloon and Avant models, which claims to take autonomous driving to the next level. If you want the ultimate sports estate, then check out the new RS4. If you’re looking for an extra dash of style, have a look at the new second generation A7 Sportback. There’s an all-new A1 Sportback model too, a revised version of the TT sportscar and an all-new second generation version of the Q3 compact SUV.

ONE TO WATCH: The new A1 Sportback is the highest quality supermini yet made.

BMW

The key news for BMW dealers in recent months has been the launch of a second generation version of the company’s mid-sized X4 SUV Coupe. There’s also a fresh lifestyle-orientated option in the form of the new 6 Series Gran Turismo model. In other news, the company has revised its i3 electric range and added a sporty i3s variant. There’s also a new M5 high performance sports saloon, a ‘Competition’ version of the M2 coupe and a roadster version of the top i8 sportscar.

ONE TO WATCH: The X4 is a far more competitive mid-sized premium-badged SUV-Coupe than its predecessor.

BMW X4 Model

FIAT

Fiat has rejuvenated its 500L small MPV – and added a Crossover-style trim level into the range. There’s also a new SUV-orientated Panda model, the Panda Cross. And special ‘Mirror’ versions of the brand’s iconic 500 citycar, plus the 500L and the 500X SUV, all featuring smarter looks and upgraded infotainment. There’s also a sporty new ‘S-Design’ trim level for the Tipo family hatch.

ONE TO WATCH: The Panda Cross is a fun option for citycar buyers.

FORD

The big news for Ford dealers is the launch of a new generation version of the brand’s Focus family hatch. The company has also thoroughly revised its KA+ five-door citycar. The brand also continues to introduce extra variants of the all-new seventh generation Fiesta supermini, including an ST hot hatch and an ‘Active’ Crossover-style variant.

ONE TO WATCH: The new Focus is arguably the most class-competitive family hatch Ford has yet brought us.

Ford Focus

MERCEDES-BENZ

Mercedes has been busy of late, following a flurry of new model activity earlier this year which brought us an all-new A-Class compact family hatch and substantially revised C-Class models. There’s also a new generation version of the executive CLS four-door coupe, which provides some of the engineering for the desirable new Mercedes-AMG GT four-door model.

In addition, the brand’s most capable SUV, the G-Class, has been launched in new generation form. And there’s a new pick-up model, the X-Class in a commercial range that also now includes an all-new version of the company’s Sprinter large van.

ONE TO WATCH: New A-Class offers a premium feel for sensible money.

SEAT

SEAT’s most important recent arrival has been the brand’s first SUV supermini-segment Crossover model, the Arona. This is based on the new generation Ibiza supermini launched last year. In other news, the company introduced a super-hot hatch model, the Leon Cupra R – now sold out, and plans in the future to launch ‘Cupra’ as a separate sub-brand for its high-performance models.

ONE TO WATCH: The Arona will further boost SEAT sales in the SUV sector.

SEAT Arona

VAUXHALL

Vauxhall has just launched hot GSi performance versions of its Corsa supermini and Insignia mid-sized models. The Corsa range has been revised too, with a focus on 1.4-litre power. There’s also an all-new compact family MPV, the Combo Life, just in the showrooms. SUVs occupy much of Vauxhall’s attention these days, following last year’s launch of new Crossland X and Grandland X models – and even an SUV-style version of its citycar, christened the Viva Rocks.

ONE TO WATCH: With its Crossland X and Grandland X SUVs, Vauxhall now has a properly credible crossover line-up.

VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen has just launched a new generation version of its Touareg luxury SUV. This follows a busy year, which has seen the brand introduce its new T-Roc mid-sized SUV, its 7-seat Tiguan Allspace and the all-new sixth generation version of the Polo supermini. There’s a hot GTI version of the up! citycar too.

ONE TO WATCH: New Polo is smarter and cleverer, plus offers the option of efficient 1.5 TSI EVO power.

Volkswagen Polo

Are you ready for an Electric Vehicle?

To help you with this decision, we’ve put together a handy guide to everything EV from the need-to-knows to the differences between an Electric and a Hybrid.

If you’d like more information, check out the full guide to Electric Vehicles.

You might think that this technology is new, but the concept of an Electric Vehicle dates back to 1837. They were so popular that 28% of all vehicles on the road in 1900 were electric. Of course, the tech has advanced significantly over the years.

Electric vs Hybrid

Hybrid cars still have a conventional engine but mix this with an electric battery to create a more powerful propulsion system. The electric battery serves as more of a complement to the petrol engine, rather than a primary means of power. Hybrid cars can also store the electrical energy they’ve created, whereas an EV needs to be charged regularly at a power point.

Electric vs Petrol/Diesel

These comparisons are much more noticeable. For one, a conventional engine has a lot more moving parts that an EV. EV also tend to have a shorted range, which is the main concern for most drivers but with constant developments to battery life and investment by the Government to install more charging points, this should hopefully be alleviated over time. The most notable consideration is the smaller amount of pollution caused by an EV compared to a petrol or diesel engine.

What are the benefits of switching to an EV?

One of the main factors when considering an EV is the benefits it has on the environment. Here are just a few:

Renewable energy – Electricity is a form of renewable energy. This means you won’t be expending limited resources, like fossil fuels, to power your car.

Eco-friendly materials – Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of EVs are manufactured using base materials which are themselves ecologically beneficial. This is true of a lot of manufacturers, but was most notably done with the creation of the Nissan Leaf.

Lower levels of pollution – Owing to the nature of electric engines, there are far fewer emissions. In fact, an EV has zero polluting elements coming from its exhaust.

Recycled batteries – You’ll be able to recycle the engine (or battery) of an electric car. This reduces the need for production – which in turn lowers the overall damage done to the environment.

There’s also a huge health benefit to more people switching to EV as this can prevent many pollution related illnesses and deaths.

Saving money

Thanks to the lower CO2 emissions and the fact there’s very little overall pollution, electric vehicles are largely exempt from tax and you may find yourself with a little discount of Vehicle Excise Duty if you drive a Hybrid.

In order to encourage more drivers to switch to Electric, the Government have set up plug-in grants via Taxpayer Credit. Check out our full guide to find out how much you could save.

Is an Electric Vehicle right for me?

If you’re not already the proud owner of an electric vehicle, your decision will depend on a number of factors. Choosing an EV isn’t the same as picking a new petrol or diesel car. You’ll need to decide whether you’re the kind of person who’ll benefit from a more environmentally friendly option.

What will you need if for? How far do you need to travel? Are there public charging points near you? Is it right for you and your family?

Deciding to buy an Electric or Hybrid car comes down to your personal circumstances, but if you need help deciding check out our full guide.

Autumn driving risks

Here are some top tips to help drivers cope with the unpredictable Autumn weather.

Coping with… Heavy Rain and Wet Conditions

Watch for leaves and large puddles on the road

Loose leaves that are flattened and wet act just like ice. With puddles, it’s difficult to judge their depth, which could lead to serious damage to your vehicle. Therefore, you should try to avoid both if possible or drive slowly over them, taking extra care.

Prepare your tyres

This goes hand-in-hand with the above tip. Wet or icy roads demand tyres that are in good condition. You need at least 3mm of tread to be legal, but newer tyres are better. Check the pressure too, regularly. Under-inflation means less grip.

Check the condition of your wiper blades

In the more autumnal misty, murky conditions you need wiper blades in tip top condition. Clean them with a soft cloth and ensure they are in full working condition. If your sight is limited in any way while using them, replace them as soon as possible.

Coping with… Dark Commutes

High beams on standby 

Give your headlights and rear lights a clean and make sure all are in working condition, including the high beams. But remember, try to only use the high beams when you really need them and not when other drivers are approaching.

Take sunglasses

With the shorter days comes a lower sun which can be awkwardly placed during your morning and evening drive. Often, it’s so low that even the sun visor can’t block it. Sunglasses will help.

Stay alert

The darker mornings and evenings may leave you feeling drowsier behind the wheel. To avoid this, make sure you get enough sleep the night before, swap drivers if possible during long trips and drink caffeine if necessary. If you find yourself growing tired, pull over to rest or stretch your legs.  

Coping with… Frost

Give yourself extra time in the mornings

It can be a pain, but it’s very dangerous to only scrape a small viewing hole in the windscreen and then rush off to work. To avoid the frost altogether, park your car in a garage or cover it overnight.

Check antifreeze levels

Antifreeze prevents the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. You can contact a professional mechanic to check this for you, or buy an antifreeze tester for a small price.

Check the battery

As the weather turns colder, your car will need to take more energy from the battery. It’s best to inspect your battery this time of year to make sure it can survive the autumn and winter; you can always buy a car battery tester to do this.

Coping with… High Winds

Monitor your speed

The faster you drive, the more likely you are to lose control. Always monitor your speed, take your time and keep a good extra distance between yourself and other cars.

Anticipate debris

Prepare yourself for sporadic bits of debris in the road or even fallen trees. This is another reason for keeping your speed low in high winds.

Don’t travel unless necessary

Check before you leave and if the conditions on the road are hazardous or you feel uncomfortable driving in such weather, do not attempt to do so unless necessary.