Cape Town - Two-doors, rear-wheel drive and 'how fast does it go?' - This was my way of life. So were words like 'JDM' (Japanese domestic market - modifiers and racers know what I mean), rolling starts and high speed.
PERFORMANCE SUV: Jaguar's latest offering, the new F-Pace makes for a trendy and practical mommy-van. Image: Janine Van der Post
I had a fantasy garage and in it were the likes of 'his and hers' Nissan Skyline R32s - like that of my mechanic and his wife; the iconic Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno aka 'Hachi-Roku', and a Lamborghini Murcielago LP-640 roaring beautiful tunes from its 6.2-litre V12 all-wheel drive mid-engine.
I'm a petrolhead though with a new addition to my family, not only are my fantasy car choices altered my driving priorities are relegated to the slow lane.
But then came baby...
Child seats, prams, walker rings, and bouncing toys were never in my vocabulary, yet now these terms are the pre-requisite and a priority for any vehicle I want to drive. A high priority for me is boot space.
Several safety systems are paramount; along with rear, and/or curtain airbags, auto-locking doors with child locks are all imperative. On the other hand, a vehicle needs a good engine, in case I need to be somewhere in a hurry. Good looks certainly will help in my car-buying decision.
Given the above and my daughters' needs I've since fallen in love with mommy-vans, sliding doors and mega boots.
Here's a look at the top family cars I would want in my garage now...
Sliding doors are a parents' dream, especially when you have a baby who hates being confined to a car seat (mine has a Ninja-esque ability to escape). Easy access makes things infinitely better and of course, the more seats the better. The caveat of a baby seat is reduced space for other passengers such as grandparents or an aunt.
Here are my top MPVs:
1 Ford Tourneo ConnectFord's massive Tourneo Connect is a great option in the MPV segment. It seats up to 5 occupants or 7 adults in the Grand Tourneo which has a luggage area of 1529 litres. It has a large boot which opens up quite wide, and its voluminous cargo space capable of swallowing large baby toys and many luggage items are amazing. It's powered by Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine which means frugal consumption as an option if you're not keen on the 1.6 litre variant.
My gripe here is that I'd much rather have the second row of seats fold flat instead of being folded-up and limiting space.
Price: From R310 900
WATCH: Ford Tourneo Connect 1.6 Ecoboost TitaniumKia's people mover rates highly in my 'must-have' lists for SA families. Here too you can opt for a 7- or 11-seat configuration. Remote-controlled sliding doors, multiple storage containers, flat-folding seats... yep, this is a winner for families.
2 Kia Grand Sedona
Even in seven-seat configuration, owners have access to a large, deep luggage area. Recently seven female motoring journos had to clamper into a Sedona, along with all their luggage - some sporting two bags for two nights. Nothing was left behind.
The only thing Kia needs to fix is the teeny size of its standard display screen. The fascia is humongous and the small screen is out of place. It's a bit pricey compared to rivals but overall a great model.
Price: From R566 995
Read: 10 things you should know about Kia's Grand Sedona
3 Mercedes-Benz V250dThis is uber luxury at its finest. The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is the epitome of premium MPVs and is extremely versatile. Owners can choose from a 6-,7-, or 8-variable seating system. You can choose between four individual seats, which can also swivel around for a face-to-face 'business-seating' arrangement. Owners can even choose between three-seater bench in the rear or second row. The materials, and equipment, are soft to the touch.
The V250d I tested had two individual seats in the second row, and I had wanted to swop it around so that my little one didn't have to sit so far back in the third row in her car seat. The task proved tedious as I was forced to physically remove the seat, turn it around and slot it back in. A touch of a button is needed here for fast swivel action.
Price:From - R819 888
V250d - R921 120
V250d Avantgarde - R1 157 556
Image: Janine Van der Post
I wouldn't say off-roading is my family's forte, and camping to me means staying in a luxury chalet. However, my husband is a rugby player and that means travelling around quite often. I suppose rugged fields is a given for such a tough sport. We regularly travel to parts of the Swartland which still has many gravel routes, so 4x4 capabilities are most welcome. To meet my needs, a vehicle needs to be versatile enough to cover long-distance, have increased ride-height to cover poor road surfaces yet comfortable enough to handle precious cargo (read: my baby).
1 Jaguar F-PaceJaguar launched its first SUV in South Africa in July 2016. The automaker has given practicality a whole new meaning. It's a gorgeous SUV and is rather capable off-road. Despite its SUV roots it presents the driving dynamics of a performance sedan.
The F-Pace has several charging ports including USB, 12V, and auxiliary ports. It has a huge amount of available (read: optional) kit, and for a price, you can spec your F-Pace to your heart's content. The list includes automated sliding side-sills, Jaguar valve caps, rim badges, roof rails and an array of rim and trim options.
The downside is that it's pricey; the new F-Pace starts at nearly R800 000 for the cheapest derivative to more than R1-million for the high-spec versions.
Price: From R778 966
READ: Jaguar F-Pace - The cat dons hiking boots
The Everest comes across as a 'super bakkie you can take home to mom'. With shared underpinnings from its Ranger sibling, in terms of design and capabilities, the Everest is a dark horse in the SUV market and often overlooked when compared to German rivals.
2 Ford Everest
It's chunky, has a sports chromed trim and I enjoy the commanding view of the road as much as its bulky wheel arches. It’s a proper off-roader and it's a seven-seater. For R50 000 more, buyers can fit a power-fold third row bench opposed to standard manual third row. Driving it is easy, though there's minor turbo lag. Gear changes are nearly as smooth as the latest local elections in the Western Cape, and it eats gravel roads for breakfast.
Price: From R634 900
Korean automaker Hyundai has stepped up its game in terms of vehicle quality during the past few years and its next-generation Tucson exemplifies its new brand direction. The new Tucson, which replaces the ix35, is spacious, good-looking, and extremely comfortable. Equipped with AWD and you have a winner on our roads. Its styling is a lot more assertive compared to rivals especially its huge chromed grille slats. It has plenty of storage compartments and a huge boot.
3 Hyundai Tucson
The 1.6 Turbo GDI engines is top-notch (130kW/265Nm) and I only wish the 2.0-litre Nu Elite auto versions had the same power punch when driving (115kW/196Nm).
Price: From R369 900