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buying advice

Grown out of your first hatchback? 4 spacious cars you should really check out

You can go estate or SUV – but either way, here’s how to be smart.

FOR A LOT of drivers, their first and maybe even second or third car is likely to have been a hatchback. But as we get older our needs tend to change.

For some, starting a family can result in the necessity of a larger, more practical car. The same can apply to new work requirements or perhaps taking up a sport that requires equipment beyond a pair of boots. Either way, there are many reasons for needing to trade up from your hatchback once you’ve outgrown it. So we’ve compiled some different options to consider.

1. SUV-type cars

Compact crossovers are one area of the market that is becoming hugely popular but don’t be fooled by the prospect of a small, affordable SUV. In reality, many of these – the Nissan Juke for example – aren’t much larger than a regular hatchback.

If you’re keen on the idea of a taller SUV-like car but are on a budget, then we suggest looking at a larger used vehicle. Here are two good examples that both offer lots of room, a commanding driving position, and plenty of passenger space.

Hyundai Santa Fe (2006-2012)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

The current Hyundai Santa Fe is enjoying healthy sales, but with the cheapest models costing almost €40,000, it’s far from a bargain. However, the previous generation is fast becoming a good-value buy given its size.

Its 2.2-litre diesel engine might not be anything special nor particularly refined compared to newer engines, but it does enjoy decent reliability.

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Nissan X-Trail (2007-2014)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

This second-generation Nissan X-Trail does look remarkably similar to the first-gen model, but it is a very different car underneath. It is easier to get in and out of and has an updated interior that sees the instrument cluster move from the centre of the dash to be in front of the driver.

Its huge boot doesn’t sacrifice rear passenger space, and on the road, it handles quite well. Most models sold here were the front-wheel drive version, but there are many with all-wheel drive.

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2. Estates

If you genuinely like your hatchback but space is the biggest problem, and you’re not a fan of taller SUVs, then why not consider moving up to an estate?

Not only do you get significantly more carrying capacity, in most cases you don’t have to sacrifice driving enjoyment or handling, and most estates don’t result in larger fuel bills. Here are two to consider.

Skoda Octavia Combi (2004-2013)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

Few estate cars can hold a candle to the Skoda Octavia Combi (that’s estate in Skoda parlance), thanks to its solid build quality, decent handling and massive amounts of luggage space.

It might not have the most attractive or exciting styling, but this is one car that thoroughly covers off practicality. The best engine to choose for keeping fuel costs down is the 1.6-litre diesel. If you frequently do shorter journeys, it is worth considering the 1.4-litre petrol – although these are harder to come across.

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Ford Mondeo Estate (2007-2015)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

The Ford Mondeo may be a household name, but it is also a car that is often underrated.

Not only does this estate version have acres of space inside, on the road, it is also great to drive. It soaks up bumps as well as any premium German saloon, and its 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine should see you getting respectable fuel consumption figures, while the 1.6-litre diesel had lower emissions making post-2009 models reasonably cheap to tax.

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More: How to buy a great SUV on a €15k budget (and 3 to check out first)>