Unlike most shops and online retailers, Christmas isn’t a boom time for the car industry. Instead, the two months when most new cars are bought are March and September. And the new number plate for September 2021? The 71-plate (for example, NU71 REG), which will take over from the 21-registration launched on March 1, 2021.
If you’re looking for some 71-reg inspiration now its September 1, we’ve chosen 10 affordable new family cars - all £20,000 or under - to whet your appetite…
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MORE: The new driving changes for 2021 that every motorist needs to know about
Dacia Sandero - from £7,995
Dacia, Renault's Romanian budget brand, is gaining a reputation for value for money and dependability. The all-new fourth-generation Sandero is a case in point. Launched in 2021, it sports fresh new looks, more equipment and it drives well too. What's more, it offers supermini space for much less than the cheapest city car on the market.
We'd pay a little extra and choose the Sandero Stepway (pictured), which has a more rugged appearance, a raised ride height and clever roof rails which revolve and double up as roof bars. If you want more space and 4x4 capability, the bigger Duster also starts below £20,000.
SsangYong Tivoli - from £14,345
How about opting for the Tivoli, from South Korea’s all-terrain specialist SsangYong? Good looking, well packaged, generously equipped and great value for money, it may not have the sophistication of some of its European compact crossover rivals (eg Renault Captur), but it drives surprisingly well, and it comes with an unbeatable seven-year/150,000-mile warranty.
Also available as a 4x4 and a unique, spacious SUV estate (badged Tivoli XLV), you can choose between petrol and diesel engines, plus manual and automatic transmission.
MG ZS - from £15,995
A family-sized SUV for the price of a supermini, the MG ZS represents big bang for your buck. Well-equipped, easy to drive and with space for all the family, we'd recommend the model powered by MG’s refined 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
If that's not enough, then the generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty might swing it for you. If your budget can stretch to £26,095, then it's possible to buy the all-electric ZS EV with a range of up to 163 miles.
Ford Fiesta - from £16,645
Britain’s most popular car of all time, the latest Ford Fiesta is the best yet, delivering comfort, superb handling, generous equipment levels, a range of efficient engines and low running costs.
Go for the version with Ford’s eager 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo engine (99bhp) and you get up to 53.3mpg with CO2 emissions as low as 120g/km.
Citroen C3 Aircross - from £17,320
If you're looking to stand out from the crowd, the quirky Citroen C3 Aircross could be the car for you. Originally launched in 2017, it's just been treated to a mid-life facelift. Not only is it spacious, but it's well equipped, easy to drive and there’s a good choice of efficient petrol and diesel engines.
From a practicality point of view, the 60:40 split rear seats fold down (releasing a huge 1,289 litres of space), but they can also slide forward, increasing the everyday boot luggage capacity from 410 litres to 520 litres.
Seat Ibiza - from £17,425
A rival to the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa, the latest Seat Ibiza is one of the best superminis on the market and a real step up from the previous model. Sharply styled, safe and boasting plenty of tech, it's also fun to drive and there's a surprising amount of space in the back for the kids.
If you're tempted, test drive the version powered by the thrummy and willing 94bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, which is a great blend of performance and economy.
Skoda Scala - from £17,585
Offering a serious amount of space (including the biggest boot in this class), the Scala mid-sized hatchback slots in between the Fabia and Octavia in the Skoda range. Handsome and with a good choice of economical petrol and diesel engines, it drives smoothy and is one of the safest new cars on the market, gaining a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Add Skoda's reputation for reliability and the Scala is definitely worth considering, especially for families where every centimetre counts. Also consider the popular Octavia, which starts just above £20,000 and has even more space.
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid - from £19,249
Five models in the all-hybrid Suzuki range start below £20,000 so if you want small, you have the choice of the Ignis and Swift, while the Vitara and S-Cross SUVs offer more space and are also very capable off-road if you pay a little extra for the AllGrip 4x4 option.
Our pick is the popular Vitara, which is attractive, easy to drive, well equipped and practical. What's more, Suzuki as a brand has a reputation for reliability and excellent customer service.
Vauxhall Astra - from £19,740
Just sneaking in below our £20,000 budget, the British-built Vauxhall Astra squares up against the best-selling Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks, so no pressure there then.
Stylish, comfortable, generously equipped and entertaining to drive, the Astra offers enough space for the family, plus a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. Also consider the slightly smaller Corsa, which has even lower running costs and is one of the best superminis on the market.
Kia Ceed Sportwagon - from £20,405
Fancy an estate car for hatchback money? The Ceed Sportswagon is another winner from South Korea's Kia Motors - even if it is fractionally over budget. A rival to the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane estates, it's stylish, well-built and comfortable to drive, offering a large 625-litre boot capacity, expanding to 1,694 litres with the rear seats down.
Add Kia's generous seven-year warranty and reputation for dependability, and the Ceed Sportswagon could be your perfect affordable family estate. Frugal mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are available further up the range.