Nine large saloons for under €30,000

Ford Mondeo - pic by Kyran O'brien

Ford Mondeo – pic by Kyran O’Brien

Buying a large family saloon, we look at nine choices all with a starting price under 30k writes Geraldine Herbert

Ford Mondeo
Delayed by almost three years the “new” Mondeo was finally launched in 2014 and is a sleeker looking car than the previous version and sports the new Aston Martin lookalike front grille. Inside it is stylish, but the quality throughout could be a little better. Engines range from 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels, and the powerful 1.5 litre EcoBoost petrol but the 2.0 TDCI Titanium is the best buy. New to the range is the Vignale spec, Ford’s  premium tier that is aimed at buyers who might otherwise migrate towards Mercedes, BMW and Audi that comes fully loaded with premium hand-stitched leather seats, SYNC2 with 8ins touchscreen, active noise control, 19ins alloys and 10-way power seats but it is hard to justify the more than €6,000 premium over the top of the range Titanium equivalent on the standard Mondeo. The Ford Mondeo offers a tempting fusion of comfort and performance and still has the best handling in its class.

Prices Starting From: €27,645
Trims; Style, Zetec, Titanium
Engine: D 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 P 1.5
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4871, 1852, 1462
NCAP: 5 stars


Hyundai i40 Saloon
Face lifted last year the i40 is without doubt the most stylish car in the Hyundai range. Designed with Europeans in mind, the coupe like profile gives it a sporty and very appealing road presence. Inside it is very spacious with plenty of room for four or five adults and 525 litres of space; there is no scrimping on equipment; the standard spec includes Leather Steering Wheel, Electric Lumbar Support,  Blue Tooth with Voice Recognition, Auto Cruise Control With Speed Limiter and 16 Inch steel Wheels.

On the road it is smooth and comfortable and is powered by two versions of the 1.7 litre turbo diesel engine with a choice of automatic or six-speed manual gear boxes.    If you want a good looking, capable large family car for a reasonable price, the i40 is hard to beat plus it comes with Hyundai’s very reassuring five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Prices Starting From: €26,495
Trims; Comfort, Executive, Executive Plus
Engine: D 1.7
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4740, 1815,  1470
NCAP: 5 stars


Kia Optima

Kia Optima

Kia Optima
Launched at the end of last year the new Optima is a huge improvement on the previous model and brings Kia’s saloon car up to par with the rest of their range. Inside it is very roomy and the quality is good throughout. Powering the Optima is an economical and refined 1.7-litre diesel and there are three trim levels EX, Platinum and GSE available. There is also the choice between a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic gearbox. In comparison to the previous version, power is up from 136 to 141PS and CO2 on the manual model comes down from 133 g to 120 g with a new annual road tax of just €190. The CO2 improvement on the new seven speed DCT automatic is down 42 grams from 158 to 116 and road tax now just €10 more than the manual version. This distinctive saloon is well worth a look,  it offers lots of space, is very well equipped and comes with a long warranty.

Prices Starting From: €27,950
Trims; EX, Platinum, GSE
Engine: D 1.7
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4855, 1860, 1465
NCAP: 5 stars


The Mazda6 saloon was improved for 2015 and is one of the best looking saloons on the market. Changes to the outside of the Mazda 6 are subtle –it has gained LED headlights, redesigned tail lights and a more striking front grille. Smoked Grey 19” Alloys have also been introduced at Platinum grade. Inside the dash has been completely revamped and if you opt for the Platinum spec you’ll get a head-up display. Engine options include a 2.0 litre petrol and a 2.2 litre diesel, both with very impressive fuel economy. Mazda has blended core family saloon must haves such as space, comfort and fuel efficiency with their zoom zoom DNA. The price tag is a little higher than rivals but it well equipped, extremely reliable and efficient so long term running costs will be  lower than most of the competitors.

Prices Starting From: €29, 295
Trims; Executive,  Executive SE,  Platinum
Engine: P 2.0, D 2.2
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4870, 1840, 1450
NCAP: 5 stars


Opel Insignia

Opel Insignia

Opel Insignia
Launched in 2009 and face lifted in 2013, the Insignia is beginning to feel a little dated but it inside  it comes with generous space for five adults, has a quality build and luggage space of  530 litres. Powering the line-up is a wide range of diesels delivering economy and performance. The Opel OnStar offers a host of services ranging from in-car Wi-Fi to automatic emergency assistance if you’re involved in a collision and is similar to a on board concierge system. It is available to Insignia customers free for Year 1 and after that the annual yearly subscription is around €99.  It is optional on S and SC trims and standard on SRi, SE and Elite trims. In-Car WI-Fi for up to 7 devices will be available this summer and pricing is expected to be comparable to other monthly internet bundles.
Behind the wheel the Insignia is all about comfort and while its is not quite as sharp to drive as many rivals and suffers more body roll in corners it offers good value for money and style in abundance.

Prices Starting From: €24,995
Trims; S, SC, SE, Elite, SRi, OPC
Engine: D 1.6, 2.0 P 1.4, 2.8
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4908, 1856, 1520
NCAP: 5 stars


Peugeot 508
With plans to move their flagship saloon more upmarket Peugeot launched the 508 late last year with new equipment, a tweaked exterior and interior design and their latest economical engines. The 508 also comes with a very reassuring 5 year extended warranty.  Everything you could possibly wish for and more, including Bluetooth & USB connectivity, Air Conditioning, Cruise Control and 16” Alloys is standard 508 and there is a special order GT model. All 508s manage to offer a nice fusion of good comfort and an involving drive and it is beautifully smooth and ideal for long journeys. You wouldn’t call it agile on winding county lanes, but it is by no means tiring to drive and it’s nimble enough and easy to manoeuvre that city driving and parking is a doddle. The 508 has a sufficient dash of French chic to make it stand out from the crowd.

Prices Starting From: €27,250
Trims; Access, Active, Allure, GT Line, GT
Engine: D1.6, 2.0
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4782, 1853, 1456
NCAP: 5 stars



Skoda Superb
Skoda’s flagship model lives up to its name supremely. With signature strong Germanic design lines the exterior  is considerably smarter in the all new Superb launched late last year.   Inside high-quality interior materials are used throughout but it is the rear leg room where the Superb really shines – there’s plenty of space for 2 tall adults to stretch out and the boot is huge – in fact it’s nearly easier to climb in rather than reaching to retrieve items from the cavernous space. Wi-Fi capability for the Superb is available as an option and starts at €87. There is a huge engine range and all are more efficient from 1.6TDI to a 2.0TDI while petrol options include a new 2.0 TSI petrol with 280bhp and an optional seven speed DSG automatic gearbox. Skoda’s Superb is pretty unbeatable as a blend of comfort, space and economy. It is not as cheap as it once was but it still offers excellent value for money.

Prices Starting From: €26,995
Trims; Active, Ambition, Style, L&K
Engine: P 1.4, 2.0 D 1.6, 2.0
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4860, 1855, 1470
NCAP: 5 stars



Toyota Avensis
One of the country’s top selling models the Toyota Avensis has always been the Captain Sensible of saloon cars. It is without doubt a prudent purchase but it is practical, safe and durable and will accommodate five adults easily and comfortably.  Originally introduced in 2009, it was significantly refreshed last year and gained some subtle improvements to the exterior and two new BMW sourced 1.6-litre and 2-litre diesel engines have been introduced to the range. Fuel economy is good and a stop & start system is standard on all diesel engines. The line-up also consists of two petrol options a 1.6 and 1.8. Three trims are available Aura, Luna and Sol and every model has decent equipment.
Both front and rear suspension systems features significant improvements to enhance both ride comfort and handling performance, while steering feel and responsiveness has also been improved. The Avensis may still not be the most thrilling car on the road but it is sharper looking, better to drive and offers quality and reliability that is hard to beat.

Prices Starting From: €25,995
Trims; Aura, Luna, Sol
Engine: P 1.6, 1.8 D 1.6, 2.0
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4750, 1810, 1480
NCAP: 5 stars


VW Passat

VW Passat

Volkswagen Passat
With the new generation Passat, Volkswagen finally got serious about it’s flagship saloon. Before the Passat was the car of choice if you didn’t crave attention or demand a lively drive.  But now along with new styling comes with a host of new technology There are three diesel engines to choose from but if petrol is your preference then there are two 1.4-litre engines on offer, a 125bhp or  150 bhp which uses Volkswagen’s Active Cylinder Technology. This operates by shutting off  two of the engine’s four-cylinders when not required, which means that you’ll get a lot more out of your fuel tank. A Passat GTE plug-in hybrid with its 1.4-litre TSi engine is also available. The petrol engine combines with an 85kw lithium ion battery to produce an impressive 218hp while returning a claimed combined economy of 1.7l/100km (or 166mpg).
Depending on the specification chosen Trendline, Comfortline or Highline there are plenty of equipment options to choose from. If you want a comfortable, stylish and efficient car the Passat has a lot to offer.

Prices Starting From: €28,410
Trims; Trendline, Comfortline, Highline
Engine: D 1.6, 2.0 P 1.4, PH 1.4
Dimensions: L.W.H. 4767, 1832, 1458
NCAP: 5 stars


Geraldine Herbert

6th May, 2016

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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