Kids left home? It’s time to choose a new car

Finding yourself with an empty nest can be a shock to the system – once the children have left the house, there are many changes to take on board.

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And that includes the car parked outside – your choice of motor is now no longer restricted by chauffeuring your offspring around (Taxi of Mum & Dad, anyone?) and lugging the family shop back from the supermarket.

With that in mind, here’s a look at five cars that might be more suited to your empty-nester lifestyle than a blubber-boat people carrier.

Living the dream!

If money is no object, you can ditch the family-friendly runabout and upgrade to a luxury marque. Imagine – driving could become a pleasure once more, not an ordeal of arguments about which music to play and whose turn it is to scoop up the detritus from the footwell.

How about a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet convertible? This little beauty will certainly turn heads, but you’ll need a hefty bank balance to get it on the road – this year’s model rocks in on the wrong side of £80,000.

You might assume you’d have to fork out another small fortune for car insurance, but the lowest premiums we found aren’t really that scary, all things considered. A couple in their fifties living in, say, the Cotswolds (with clean licences, full no claims discount and off-road parking) would pay just over £575 for fully comp cover if they carried a £500 excess. 

Watching the pennies

Most of us can only dream of running a top marque such as a Porsche, and economy will be a common priority. In fact, many will welcome the opportunity to ditch the hefty running costs associated with a people-carrier or estate in favour of a less fuel-thirsty vehicle.

The Hyundai i20 Hatchback puts fuel efficiency to the fore, squeezing 870 miles out of a tank of diesel in its Blue Drive iteration. And the car is yours for a relatively modest £8,700, or thereabouts.

When it comes to insurance, our couple in their fifties, living in London, would pay around £235 for insurance if they agreed to a £350 excess.

Giving green a go

When you’re nurturing your family, your motoring priorities tend to be having enough room for, first of all, car seats and buggies, and then a few years down the line for the lanky teenagers the babies grow into. Anxieties about environmentally-friendly motoring can often take a back seat (as it were), regardless of our best intentions.

But once the family has flown the nest, you can bring green concerns further up the agenda. If you’re not ready to take the plunge with a fully-electric car, an attractive stepping stone could by the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, which combines an electric motor with a conventional petrol engine.

At £15,495, the Yaris Hybrid is not cheap – it’s essentially just a snazzy hatchback, after all. But it’s exempt from road duty thanks to its CO2 emissions of 79g/km, and you should get around 80 miles per gallon.

Insuring a 3-door version, our couple in their living in a rural location in North Wales would pay a few pounds over £300 with a £310 excess.

Finessing a 4x4

Empty-nesting does not necessarily mean retrenchment to a modest runabout. If your taste favours a hefty 4x4, there are loads of cars out there to suit a broad range of budget and performance preferences.

The Subaru New Forester 2.0DX might be worth investigating if you’ve got £25,000 to play with. It’s not a monster along the lines of offerings from BMW, Porsche or Range Rover, but it’s powerful and easy on the eye. It’ll certainly do the job if you want to sling your golf clubs in the back or take the dogs for an outing in the country.

As far as insurance is concerned, a couple in their fifties with an Edinburgh postcode would pay in the region of £350 with a £300 excess.

Towing a caravan

According to the Caravan Club, people in their fifties are the UK’s most enthusiastic caravanners – the average age of its members is 55.

Just as important as the caravan itself is the car that will be pulling it, and you might consider an estate to give you the necessary horsepower. The Volkswagen Passat Estate Alltrack is a possibility – it goes beyond mere estate territory towards the muscle and ruggedness of a fully-fledged SUV.

With a towing capacity of 2000kg you should be fine to tow your van, and it’s comforting to know you can still expect impressive fuel economy of around 50mpg.

You’ll need deep pockets for this vehicle, though, with a forecourt price a shade under £30,000. But as a car with a relatively safe risk profile, the insurance should be reasonable. For our couple in their fifties, this time living out-of-town in Cambridgeshire, we found premiums under £200 – although the excess is quite steep at £400. A lower excess would nudge up your annual cost.

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