Spacious, high-riding off-roaders may be the cars of choice for many families, but opt for an economical diesel model from upmarket brands such as Audi, BMW or Mercedes and you could be facing a hefty bill for more than £30,000. If you’ve got half of this budget to play with, however, fear not, as you can still find a number of appealing practical family cars for less than £15,000 new.

We’ve rounded up some of the most attractive models available from under £15,000 that provide plenty of space for people and luggage, a variety of punchy petrol and diesel engines and all the essential kit you could need.

Spacious small estate car – Skoda Fabia Estate

With many of the same engines, gearboxes and high-tech kit you can find in the VW Polo, along with lower prices – and the option of a spacious estate version – the Skoda Fabia is something of a bargain. The Fabia Estate is available from as little as £12,460 and less than £15,000 is enough to get you the keys to a mid-range SE model with a punchy 89bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Opt for this version and annual car tax will set you back a mere £20, while claimed economy stands at an impressive 60.1mpg, meaning that fuel bills should be low. Acceleration is also reasonable, with this sprightly machine able to sprint to 62mph in 11.0 seconds.

Chic compact off-roader – Suzuki Vitara

If you’d rather a chunky off-roader than a traditional estate car, the Suzuki Vitara offers strong value, with prices starting at just £13,999 – despite the long list of equipment that comes as standard. Even the entry level 1.6-litre petrol offers a good mix of economy, power and standard kit.

This base car includes air conditioning, electric front and rear windows, a digital radio, Bluetooth and 16-inch alloy wheels, along with cruise control and electric, heated wing mirrors. In 1.6-litre petrol form the Vitara is capable of strong 53.3mpg claimed economy and can accelerate to 62mph in 11.5 seconds.

Funky and affordable hatchback – Citroen C4 Cactus

The Citroen C4 Cactus may do without the four-wheel drive option and boxy off-roader stance of the Vitara, but it is still one of the most striking cars on the road, with its unique ‘airbump’ side trim that protects the paintwork from car park dents.

Thanks to its lightweight body, the Cactus is also very economical and offers reasonable acceleration too. With prices starting at under £13,000 and mid-range models available for less than £16,000, the Cactus offers plenty of car for the money. Even the least powerful 1.2-litre petrol can accelerate to 62mph in an acceptable 12.9 seconds, with strong claimed economy of 61.4mpg.

Practical five-seater hatchback – MG 6

Those after the maximum space for their money should be well served by the MG 6. This large hatchback may offer similar dimensions to the Skoda Octavia, but prices start from a mere £13,995, even though it includes a punchy diesel engine that fires the 6 from a standstill to 60mph in a speedy 8.4 seconds.

Economy is similarly good with the 6 returning 61.4mpg and low emissions meaning that buyers will have to pay just £30 per year for car tax. This MG is also stuffed with equipment, with heated seats, air conditioning, electric front and rear windows and ‘hill hold control’ which holds the brakes on as you pull off to take the stress out of hill starts.

Compact people carrier – Ford B-Max

The Ford B-Max may be the company’s smallest people carrier, but it still makes a practical family machine, with sliding rear doors offering easy access to the back seats. Prices start at £13,095 for a Spartan base model, but if you can stretch your budget to £15,500 you can get a well-equipped turbocharged 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol that returns official fuel economy of 55.4mpg and can accelerate to 62mph in 13.2 seconds.

Standard kit for this model, meanwhile, includes 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a heated windscreen, a trip computer and a handy ‘child observation mirror’ for keeping an eye on kids in the back seats.

Pictures: Manufacturers