Ten best small family cars for 2013
If the list of confirmed launches is anything to go by, 2013 could be the year of the family car. A new Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon lead the way but for the average family buyer there is an incredible amount of choice out there.
You can see our best family hatchbacks list here. However, next year sees a new wave of family cars, good and bad, and we've picked out ten of the most notable below.
The criteria we've used below is simple - the car must be new, or have some new aspect, in 2013, have a five-door hatchback layout and is aimed at those with children.
The nearest challenger to the king of family cars, the Ford Focus, is back and better than ever for 2013.
The previous generation Golf was one of the best family cars to ever be sold in the UK and the seventh generation is a formidable proposition.
New 2013 VW Golf prices start from a little over £16,000 and it comes typically well-equipped. However, even the best engine delivers 60.1mpg and 110g/km of CO2 emissions, which is impressive but still behind the Ford Focus.
Luckily, the love drivers have for the VW badge, residual values and build quality are expected to outstrip its rivals and it is this that will keep buyers flocking to the Golf for another generation.
Mentioning the Seat Leon in the same breath as the Golf was previously an unfair match-up, but since the new 2013 Seat Leon will be based on the same platform (Seat is owned by the VW Group), they are comparable.
The interior is a little less premium than the Golf but the Leon does pack in plenty of tech and a 380-litre boot.
It also comes with a diesel 'Ecomotive' version that delivers road tax-free levels of CO2 emissions (under 100g/km) and returns 74.3mpg.
For a sportier, cheaper family car that will not embarrass the kids on the school run, the Seat Leon is a decent alternative to the big players. And with Leon prices starting from £15,700, it is more affordable than the Golf.
The compact Nissan Juke and larger Nissan Qashqai are superb crossover SUVs so it is about time Nissan launched a five-door family car.
Set to be built in Sunderland, the new Nissan Note sits somewhere between a five-door hatchback and a compact MPV and this means plenty of space for those on the lookout for a family car.
It looks great, with a coupe-like roof and distinctive headlamps at the front and if Nissan carries over the 1.0-litre engine used in the Micra, it will be incredibly cheap top run as well.
Nissan Note prices could start from as little as £11,000 and the reliability and quality of the brand's recent launches indicates this could be the best budget family car around when it arrives later in 2013.
A new Ford Focus for 2013? Not exactly, but the new 2012 Ford Focus will be expanded in 2013 with the introduction of an Econetic version that will blow rivals' running costs away.
Ford predicts fuel economy of 80mpg from the frugal diesel engine, making it the most efficient in its class.
Add this to the long list of equipment (including the brand's superb SYNC system with voice recognition), class leading driving characteristics and an affordable price tag starting from £14,000 and the Focus remains the best small family car on the market today.
If petrol suits your lifestyle better than the diesel, a 1.0-litre EcoBoost will also be available, offering diesel-like running costs at a much lower cost.
Audi A3 Sportback
Don't be fooled by the name - the Sportback is actually a five-door, more practical version of the excellent three-door Audi A3 launched in 2012.
Those extra doors give easier access to the back seats and the distinctive rear end offers a massive 1,100 litres of space with the rear seats folded.
It's based on the same platform as the Seat Leon and Volkswagen Golf so expect driving dynamics to be improved over previous versions.
As an Audi, drivers will also have the advantage of a sumptuous cabin and a lengthy equipment list. However, this all comes at a cost - a cost nearer to £20,000 to be more precise.
Saying that, residual values will hold up well thanks to the desirability of smaller Audi cars.
Getting there first in terms of launch date is the Audi A3-rivalling Mercedes A-Class. Gone is the frumpy, MPV style of the previous generation and in its place is this stunning five-door hatchback.
It looks great and has space for five in the rear-end - despite that sloping coupe style. The Mercedes will also be the most gadget-packed small family car in the segment with a new smart phone connectivity system and a host of entertainment and navigation features.
It won't come cheap - Mercedes A-Class prices will start at £20,000 - but you would expect nothing less considering the Mercedes badge and build quality.
Plus, there's the added bonus of a road tax-free engine option for the first time in the A-Class range.
Things are about to get complicated. You see, previous versions of the V40 were simply estate versions of the S40 saloon.
Not so the new 2013 Volvo V40. It is in fact a practical five-door hatchback with an envious level of equipment, comfortable and stylish interior and an unbeatable safety record.
So far, so Volvo. However, the quirky, angular rear end, stylised flanks and sporty stance of the Volvo V40 will appeal to younger, design-conscious families like no other Volvo car.
Suddenly, Volvos are cool. And well-equipped. And affordable. Expect a road tax-free version with fuel economy to match any model in the class as well as a price tag in the region of £19,000.
Toyota, despite its bulging hybrid sales books, has never quite reached the peak of the small family car market with the solid but unspectacular Auris.
The 2013 Toyota Auris is along much the same lines. Expect superb safety ratings, unbeatable reliability and a durable, well-built interior.
There's lashings of interesting tech - including a touchscreen system and 'Skyview' panoramic sunroof - and the added bonus that this is a UK-built car.
Toyota Auris prices start from around £15,000 and this will entice buyers on a budget who find the Golf and Focus a little on the expensive side.
This understated small family car is the Skoda Rapid, a five-door hatchback masquerading as a saloon and filling the tight space between the Fabia supermini and the Octavia in Skoda's ever-growing line-up.
Skoda cars are officially the UK's most reliable and expect the same bomb-proof quality with the Rapid, along with what it claims will be the most spacious boot in its class.
Expect around 550 litres of boot space and more when the seats are folded, which should put the Skoda Rapid to the top of the table in terms of reliability.
It will also be one of the most affordable with a selection of frugal 'Greenline' engines and a starting price of £13,000 when it arrives in January.
Here's something completely different - a Fiat 500 but with enough space (at a push) for a family of four.
The 'L' stands for large and the Mini Countryman competitor brings all of the Fiat 500's retro charm to the hatchback segment for the first time.
It is small, frugal, stylish - it even comes with a coffee maker and Beats sound system - and quite expensive for its size at around £14,000.
The Fiat 500L is much smaller than the other cars on this list and much less practical. But it is a compact, stylish, charming and a huge amount of fun.