The long hot summer is nearly over, and soon it’ll be time to pack the kids off to school. Parents all over the country will heave a huge sigh of relief, and possibly do a jaunty little dance, as they drop off their terrors back to school on the first day.
But having nearly survived the holiday season, there is one task remaining in anticipation of the return to the take-no-prisoners cut-and-thrust of the hectic school run. Feared by the faint-hearted, traumatic for the anxious and adeptly tackled only by the mightiest Guardians of the Sprogs, it’s not to be taken lightly.
Key to survival and successful drop-off and pick-up is, as with anything, having the right tool for the job. In this case the best appropriate car that fits within mission parameters. What those are, however, can depend on you and the kids. So, here’s our selection of the current Top 10 School Run cars broken down by themes.
1. Mini Countryman – Retro Cool
Despite being ultra-modern and very well built, the modern Mini continues to embody the Carnaby Street spirit of the original Swinging 60s Mini. There are few city cars that serve up so much charisma and effortless style that are as classless and still huge fun to drive. The Countryman’s compact crossover stance provides ample room for school kids and their bags.
2. Tesla Model X – Childish Fun
Let’s get the practical stuff out of the way first – the Tesla Model X is huge, so there’s plenty of offspring-space, plus it’s electric thus zero-emissions and, if you charge at home, economical. Now the crazy bits. It boasts the most dramatic entrance of all – rear electrically powered gullwing panels that rise up to eject your kids. And to take it to the next level, it can even do a door dance to music. Plus, your kids will have endless fun with the simulated fart noises it can also produce, although you might find that a bit testing.
3. Honda E – For the Gamers
It’s a little tight in the back, so the adorable little Honda E is ideally suited to younger families as it does have ISOFIX child seat anchor points. The electric range isn’t vast, but if the school is within a few miles, it won’t be a problem. It’s electric, so no emitting anything outside a school while you’re waiting for home-time. And here’s where the party-piece in this car really comes into its own. You can plug in a games console and play on the huge digital screen while you await the emergence of the juvenile hordes. And if you get bored of that, there’s a virtual aquarium to stare at – which is strangely captivating.
4. Audi RS6 Avant – Late for School
If you’re always running behind the clock, and you need a big wagon to throw everyone into, ‘something that can shove a bit’ as an Audi was once described in the movie ‘Ronin’, you need an RS6 Avant. A 600bhp supercar of an estate that’ll dispatch the school run in just 3.6 seconds – or was that the 0-62mph acceleration time? Regardless, this thing will pin your kids back into the Nappa leather seats so hard they won’t utter a word until you catapult them out onto the pavement in front of the school. Bliss.
5. Suzuki Jimny – Mini-Me Off-Roader
If there’s one thing that every school run mum and dad knows, it’s that you need a fully-capable all-terrain-conquering 4x4 to take the whippersnappers to the phrontistery. However, if the pristine beautifully tarmacked roads are a little narrow at your destination, parking space is tight and your kids are tiddlers, then you can opt for the ‘honey, I shrunk the SUV’ version: the Suzuki Jimny. These are not available new anymore, but there’s plenty in the classifieds.
6. Land Rover Defender – For Adventurers
If your children had been telling porkie pies at school that over the summer your holidays would entail overlanding to Africa, picking your way around erratic geysers on an active volcano, chasing cheetahs in the wild, bashing desert dunes and evading an angry velociraptor, then you’ll obviously have to turn up to the gates of academia in an appropriate vehicle. And that’s got to be the new Land Rover Defender. Just make sure it’s as dirty as hell for the added authenticity.
7. Toyota Previa – The Shuttle Pod
Search online and you’ll pick up used examples of the Toyota Previa for under £5000. Bargain money for the most reliable family MPV on the market. Grey import variants of the Previa are not to be feared either. And they’re not boring, because apart from the tremendous practicality, they look like a cross between a Japanese Bullet Train and a Star Trek Shuttle pod. In fact, to really make the school drop-off a fun event, get one in white, and add Star Trek stickers to make it look like the Shuttlecraft Galileo. Don’t forget to remind your kids to set phasers to stun.
8. Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus – Classic Choice
If you want to go the classic route, there is really only one right choice – the 1950s/60s Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus. There’s plenty around in the £20k range, they’re relatively cheap and easy to run for classics and everybody will love you, including your kids. They’re evergreen and highly customisable. For added cachet and to win the school-run ‘coolness’ trophy, festoon it with peace and love logos and flower decals, wear round spectacles and beads, and play the Beatles music – constantly.
9. Mercedes-Benz AMG G63 – The Ultimate Bling
If it’s good enough for footballers, Arabian Sheikhs and Russian Oligarchs, then it’s good enough for you and your kids. The G-Class was designed to survive mines, so it can certainly manage the school drop zone without too much damage. It’s got presence, so you won’t be messed with – ever – and inside there’s all the opulence of a Rolls-Royce. Just make sure you children don’t smear chocolate all over the upholstery.
10. Ford Fiesta – Going Incognito
Far from being the odd one out in this company, the humble, but best-selling little Ford Fiesta is an ideal school-run companion. Stealthy and compact enough to dart around other parents’ swagger wagons, it quietly gets the job done. You can rely on its abilities, it’s economical and easy to drive, while enjoyably agile, and most importantly, it won’t shout about it. Your kids will thank for you not embarrassing them.