I was having dinner with the awesome Mai Ikuzawa, daughter of Japan’s most celebrated grand prix driver, Tetsu Ikuzawa, a few weeks ago and we started chatting about the ultimate family car. Mai grew up surrounded by the world of motor racing and is now racer herself. Apparently most of the decision making when it comes to a family car resides with the woman in the family, so after a bit of a debate, Mai thought it would be quite fun to go back into history, and figure out what have been some of the best family cars through the ages. The question is, what’s your favourite?
As a mother, a Creative Director and a ‘car expert’ as a profession, I am often asked by my friends ‘what family car shall I get’?
I’ve been a parent for five years and I still drive a 2-door 500bhp sportscar. It’s totally possible, as much as some women who go through their entire pregnancy on 4-inch heels. I wouldn’t say I recommend it, I needed Cirque du Soleil flexibility to cram my 1 year old son into a rear-facing baby seat in the back of the car.
Of course safety and practicality are paramount, but why do we need to sacrifice style when we have children? And, don’t Google ‘Top 10 family cars’, the results are just horrendous. I think children have better ideas for family cars than the car makers or automotive journalists – just ask them to build a car with lego, it’s the most awesome looking machine.
This is an alternative guide, and we won’t be mentioning the popular Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC90 or Porsche Cayenne….
VW Camper Van
The VW camper van is an icon. No other car has the ability to turn heads and conjure a spirit of freedom, adventure and open roads. The car is loved and gives love back. You will never be succumbed to road rage if you chudder at 10mph in rush-hour traffic. I think at some point in our lives we all need to own one and go surfing!
Aston Martin DBX
Aston Martin are diversifying their brand, beyond their usual James Bond aspiring middle-aged wealthy men. Today 80% of all car purchasing decisions are made by women, and that makes the future 007 icon to potentially be a working mother. So they have decided to transform their luxury car range and welcome this sublime crossover. Available before 2020 this will be the all-electric four-wheel-drive luxury. Finally a luxury car company that doesn’t patronise female customers.
Mercedes AMG G 65
This is the boss. There is nothing cute about this brutalist machine. I love the hardness of the design. It was originally produced as a military vehicle, and recently voted the No.1 choice for arms dealers and oligarchs when they introduced quilted leather and hi-tech gadgets. You can’t get safer or stronger than this to protect your loved ones, including the dog, the bikes, nanny and all the shopping. And if you want the boss of the bosses, get the AMG tricked up version, and make it as powerful as it is luxe. Just drop the initials ‘AMG’ casually in a conversation, when your husband’s friends arrive in their Range Rovers.
The French are back doing what they are good at – design.
Affordable, spacious, fuel efficient, low CO2 emissions with a hi-tech 7-inch colour touchscreen, cruise control, parking cameras and sensors, sat-nav, air-con, and a DAB radio with steering wheel control, as standard. What I also love is its futuristic style. It has a very innovative design, with details such as the Airbump rubber panels (that help to minimise impacts from other car doors). There is an option for a bench seat which is so cool for a family car.
Tesla Model X
This is possibly the greenest, chicest, fastest way to carry 7 people and luggage. It has a seamless panoramic windscreen and glass roof (with UV protection) giving you impressive visibility. It has enough power and the 250 mile range is sufficient for our weekend trips to the countryside. The enormous 17 inch touchscreen display is one of the best-looking and easiest to use of any car. The bonus is the ‘falcon wing’ doors. Why would you want to buy a Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover Sport now?!
Jaguar XJ6 Series III
The Jaguar is a British seductress like no other. This version was remodelled and streamlined by Pininfarina, and the Series III established itself as one of the best Jaguars of all. Plus it fits three in the back with plenty of boot space too. This car just grows more refined with age.
The iconic best selling car from Japan. The quirky asymmetrical modernist designed car first launched in 1998 and has already become a collectors car. This was designed with the modern style conscious family in mind. It’s spacious and practical with high ride height, wide door opening with friendly velvety bench seating. They also come in nice opaque retro hues of 60’s refrigerators. It’s a Nissan so it’s reliable, practical, and easy to drive. I used to drive one and I regret not keeping it. I think this is the last generation of cool Japanese cars before modern cars became mainstream and dull. Personally, I prefer the original Japanese edition to the UK facelifted version.
1971 Mercedes 280SE 3.5
The most graceful, elegant, roomy, and comfortable car has to be this one! It’s commanding but at the same time as relaxing as driving on your sofa. In 1971 they were built to the highest standards and competed head on with Rolls-Royce and Bentley Corniche Convertibles as the ultimate soft top 4 seater motorcar. 4-speed automatic and it is the ultimate cruiser at low and high speeds. Mercedes famously said “at 100 mph, the loudest sound you hear is the air-conditioner.”
The Renault 4L, pronounced “Quatrelle” is the third best selling car in history after VW Beetle and Ford Model T. There is a reason why this car was/is so popular. In 1956, it replaced the Citroën 2CV as the urban vehicle and was exceptionally spacious for its size and it is now regarded as the first mass-production hatchback city car. Unbreakable, nippy and very agile over speed-bumps. The design is just charming and chic.
2016 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
This is the Gucci of 2016 cars – the ultimate ‘it’ car with pure elegance, sex-appeal as well as the power and a exclusive price tag to match. Unlike Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati who’ve all built SUV’s, Ferrari’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, said he would rather die than join the trend, but he has built the ultimate family hatchback (call it ‘shooting-brake’ if you want to sound like you know your stuff). The ultimate four-seater, four-wheel steering, four-wheel drive GT (means it’s a comfy car for those long car journeys to the Cotswolds or our ski lodge). Don’t be put off by the ‘super car’ label, the steering wheel is small, very light to handle and there’s a 10 inch Apple CarPlay display with an additional one for the lucky passenger too.
(Bonus!) Citroën Méhari
If you want your kids to think you are the coolest mum or dad, this is the ultimate vehicle. Originally built in 1968, it was a variant of the iconic Citroën 2CV. This is, in my opinion, the chicest off-road compact SUV ever produced! A Stylish beach-buggy summer family car to have in your Ibiza or Tuscan villa. Citroën has released a new 2016 electric version.