Gone are the days when the only cars with seven seats were van-like people carriers. If you need space for seven people in your car, you now have the choice of car-like compact MPVs, medium and large off-roaders, plush people carriers and even electric executive cars, like the groundbreaking Tesla Model S.

We’ve rounded up some of the most appealing seven-seaters from several car classes to prove that opting for a car with space for seven doesn’t have to mean compromising on style, comfort, performance or economy.

MPV: Renault Grand Scenic – From £20,590

MPVs may sit at the less exciting end of the seven-seater spectrum, but the Renault Scenic is both affordable and practical, and feels a far cry from the basic van-with-windows format of some older large people carriers. The rearmost row of seats offers enough space for children, while the Scenic’s compact size means that it’s no more difficult than a typical estate car to park or manouevre.

Engines range from tiny turbocharged petrol engines that provide a surprising amount of punch, alongside reasonable claimed fuel economy of around 45mpg to several diesels, which are capable of up to 68.9mpg with annual car tax from just £20.

Large off-roader: Volvo XC90 – From £45,785

If you need space and lots of it, you’ll struggle to find a more spacious machine than the brand new Volvo XC90. However, this is one big vehicle. With a chunky 4×4 stance but sleek, attractive lines, the XC90 is one of the most elegant large off-roaders.

Comfort levels in the plush cabin are extremely high, with supportive, well-shaped seats, while the engines are powerful and admirably frugal for a car of this size. Petrol, diesel and hybrid models are available, though you’ll have to dig deep to put an XC90 on your drive, with prices starting at more than £45,000.

Medium 4×4: Land Rover Discovery Sport – From £32,395

Those after 4×4 styling without the sheer size and expense of the XC90, however, may be taken by the Discovery Sport. With the most respected off-road name in the business on the bonnet and sharp, modern styling the Discovery Sport gives buyers five seats for adults plus two smaller ones for children – all in the same footprint as five-seat rivals.

Despite having four-wheel drive and being able to sprint to 60mph in under 10 seconds, the Discovery Sport is still capable of claimed economy of 53.3mpg, meaning that running costs should be reasonable.

Electric car: Tesla Model S – From £57,380

The Tesla Model S may be expensive to buy at just less than £60,000 for the cheapest seven-seater, but it offers a package that no other model can match – zero-emissions, rapid performance and a spacious, comfortable cabin.

Thanks to Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ rapid charging network – which now spreads across most of western Europe, North America and parts of Asia – drivers can fully charge their car in 75 minutes, which typically gives them enough charge to cover around 250 miles. Adding a half-charge to the batteries, however, can take as little as 20 minutes, making this the first electric car that requires little compromise when it comes to how far you can travel on a charge or how long you have to wait while the batteries replenish themselves.

Upmarket, sporty MPV: Ford S-Max – From £24,545

The Ford S-Max has always been the sharpest handling MPV. Now Ford has updated it, though, it is also one of the most luxurious. Despite offering more than enough space for seven – with the rear seats being usable for most adults – those in the front seats can enjoy high levels of comfort, with luxuries such as heated and cooled, massaging front seats available.

With a range of frugal engines, drivers can choose from petrol or diesel motors that offer enough muscle to let drivers make the most of the impressive roadholding. As a people carrier that offers something to people in all rows of seats, the S-Max is an appealing option.

Pictures: Manufacturers