The ideal ‘second’ car for families: part one

Welcome to part one of our series of articles looking at ideal second cars for families.

As much as many families could do without the expense of running a second car, and as much as many families really try to manage without, sometimes that just isn’t manageable. Work and schooling arrangements can make it impossible to only manage with one car.

Once you’ve accepted you need a second car though what are your options?

In this series we will be looking at some of the cars often pitched as ‘second’ cars and seeing just how practical they are. If you are looking for technical reviews on these cars, your’re in the wrong place, but if you want to know whether any of these cars will work for your family stay tuned.


What to consider when looking for a second car:

When you decide to take the plunge and go for that second car, what do you really need to think about? The main thing to consider is what you will need to MAINLY use the car for. Here’s a few things to ask yourself:

  • Will the car be used to commute on a long journey?
  • Will the car need to carry baby or toddler seats?
  • Will the car need to carry older children?
  • Will the boot need to hold a pushchair? If so will it fit?
  • Will you need to carry sports or music equipment for family members?
  • Will you ever need to fit the whole family in the car?
  • Will the car JUST be used for the school run and general running around?
  • Will you be driving the car into a city?

volvo v40

The first car we are looking at in this series is the Volvo V40. The Volvo V40 is the compact hatchback that’s perfectly suited for life in the city – but can it offer more?

Fitted as standard to every V40:

  • Five-inch colour display screen
  • City Safety – includes fully automatic emergency braking (up to 31mph)
  • LED headlights
  • Two-zone climate control
  • Speed limiter
  • Hill-start assist
  • Digital radio
  • Bluetooth handsfree system
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seats


We have been driving the Volvo V40 T3 R-Design Nav Plus Engine Transmission

  • T3 – 152hp
  • 6-speed Manual Exterior colour Upholstery
  • Osmium Grey
  • R-Design Sports – Charcoal

First things first, I’m normally a fan of black cars but I LOVE this colour…that counts right? Now on to other important considerations before I get too hung up on the colour!

V40 interior

Why it makes a great second car:

  • Feels solid
  • Steering was direct and precise
  • Well built sturdy construction
  • Isofix in rear
  • Nice shape, looks smart and sporty
  • Sat nav reasonably accurate once you get the hang of it
  • Very comfy, good back support, super snug seats – great if you have a sore back or find driving uncomfortable
  • Comfortable for 2 adults and two toddlers with Isofix seats or three older children across the back
  • Reasonable boot space for the size of car – you would probably only fit a small stroller in the boot though
  • Easy to park and manoeuvre
  • Good lights, especially with main beam
  • Sophisticated on board computer
  • Reasonable foot well space even with Isofix legs
  • Compact but NOT small
  • Large enough boot for big sports bags, golf clubs etc
  • Reasonable leg space in the rear of the car and shoulder space as well for older children
  • You can’t fit two toddlers, or one toddler and a baby AND an older child in the back, BUT if the older child can sit in the front that solves that problem

V40 with Isofix

What you might want to think about: 

  • Not great fuel economy
  • You can’t easily get a guitar in the boot – Yup, tried it!
  • Sat nav took a while to get the hang of
  • The clutch was very high so not a great town car but nicer to drive on a longer journey (interesting considering as it is pitched as a city car)
  • It would be a pricey choice for a second car, starting at £20,225

V40 with car seats

Overall we thought the Volvo V40 would make a great second car. It’s slightly larger than our existing Corsa, a nicer drive and much more comfortable but obviously much more pricey so it would depend on your budget.

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