Safety is paramount on family models, so electronic stability control is essential. Not all cars have it in this class: it’s only standard on high-spec Elegance and Urban versions of the Skoda Yeti. Do your homework; it may be worth choosing a better trim.
Other essentials include an iPod/MP3 connection. While aux sockets are fine, a fully integrated set-up provides more control.
Also, sports fans who do lots of miles should get a DAB radio. It offers a crystal-clear alternative to the hiss of medium and long-wave football or cricket broadcasts.
Don’t spend on… Active headlamps: won’t recoup the extra outlay at resale time. Larger alloy wheels: they affect comfort. Ambient lighting: adds atmosphere – but at a cost.
Our pick: BMW 1 Series SE (from £20,070)
The BMW 1 Series is the newest kid on the compact family car block, and it shows. SE is one up from base spec, but it has a high-quality 6.5-inch infotainment screen (and iDrive controller), Bluetooth and a USB input. We’d also recommend the £500 Driver Comfort pack, which adds rear parking sensors, Servotronic steering and cruise control.