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17 May 2017

Supercars and sports cars are huge fun, tearing up your favourite twisty road in a blur of tyre smoke, exhaust noise and burning unleaded fuel. But generally sports cars and supercars only have two seats, meaning as soon as you go from singleton to family member, you need to think outside the box when it comes to your car. Of course if you’re wealthy enough you can have more than one car but for many of us that simply isn’t possible. So step forward the all-rounder – a car that can transport you and your family when required, but also be as fast as a supercar and handle like one when you want.

5 – Range Rover Sport SVR

We love the Range Rover Sport, and so it seems do the players of our Dream Car Competition with lots of them won in the last year. It’s stylish, exceptionally high quality and immensely practical, while being able to go anywhere off-road and handling far too well for its size on-road. So what’s not to love about our beloved RR Sport with an added dose of supercharged V8 loveliness? The same lump that powers Jaguar’s R range gets dropped in the Sport with 542bhp and the exterior gets an aggressive makeover. What that engine means is that this almost 2.5-tonne behemoth can sprint to 62mph in 4.7 seconds on the way to 162mph and makes the most unholy of noises when it does. But you can do all that, should you choose it, with your offspring, mother-in-law and shopping in the back. The SVR can be yours for £94,000.

4 – Audi RS6 Avant

Despite being the cheapest car on the list at £81,000, the RS6 Avant doesn’t give anything away to its more expensive brethren; in fact it beats them in many areas. The RS6 is easily the most practical car here – sure-footed four wheel drive and an estate body with a simply huge boot means you could take your family and most of your house with you should you see fit. It’s also incredibly fast – the 552bhp twin turbo 4.0 litre V8 sees to that – with 62mph coming up in just 3.9 seconds and you can have it top out at 186mph with the Drivers Package. Delimited the RS6 can hit 200mph too, meaning it really can mix it with the big boys. But dial everything back, relax, turn up the music and you are in a relaxing big Audi estate car, just like other diesel estates out there. It’s a machine of two distinct roles and it plays both brilliantly.

Buy your RS6 ticket here

3 – McLaren F1

OK, this one is pushing the boundaries a little, but this is a list of the most practical supercars, so the F1 has to be in here. Everyone knows it has three seats, that was one of the unique aspects of the F1 when it was launched over 20 years ago, so that means that you could go for a drive with your wife on one side and your son/daughter/mother-in-law/dog on the other. No other supercar allows that. But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are also many more practicalities to the F1 – to start with there’s the front boot – admittedly this is small but there’s enough room for a handbag in there. Then there are the side pods – just behind the doors sit two large carbon panels that hinge at the bottom, opening to reveal two quite large luggage spaces. They are a fairly awkward shape, but that was never an issue given that McLaren gave you some custom shaped luggage that filled every corner of the spaces, meaning you could go away with two other people and not have to hire a car to follow you with your luggage. Sadly the market has pushed these into the realms of some of the most expensive cars ever now, and you’ll struggle to buy one for less than £10,000,000.

2 – Renault Espace F1

Actually, the McLaren seems almost normal compared to my number 2 choice. One of the most popular practical family cars of all time in Europe is the Renault Espace – the first mass-market MPV and an incredibly forward-thinking car. In 1995 though, Renault decided to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Espace and Renault’s involvement in Formula 1 with a merging of the two. The result? The Espace F1. It may look a lot like an Espace, but in reality there’s actually nothing shared with the normal Espace bar the head and tail lights. Every body panel is custom made carbon fibre and underneath sits a carbon fibre monocoque chassis. And under the bonnet all you’ll find are radiators – that’s because the powerplant sits in the middle of the car (well, under the rear boot area) – that powerplant being the engine from the 1993 Williams-Renault F1 car, a 3.5 litre 40-valve V10 producing 800bhp. The lightweight construction and huge power meant performance was staggering – 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds, 0-124mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 194mph. And yes, it was still practical (ish) – there were four seats in there! Sadly this was a one-off, so the Espace F1 is priceless, sitting in a museum in France.

1 – Nissan Qashqai R

In an industrial estate in the middle of Telford, which is in the middle of the UK, there’s a company called Seven Valley Motorsport (SVM). SVM is a world-renowned tuner of Nissan GTRs and even holds records with them. SVM is also staffed entirely by crazy people, though I say that in the nicest possible way. Because one day after looking at the Nissan Qashqai they had borrowed they realised it was around the same wheelbase as the GTR. So they decided to make an unholy union of the two – under this rather unassuming exterior sits the engine and running gear from a 2012 Nissan GTR, tuned by SVM to produce a staggering 1200bhp. So should you see fit, you could put your family (or rather, 4 friends) in this Qashqai and rocket them from 0-62mph in 2.7 seconds then subject them to punishing acceleration all the way to around 205mph. I’ve actually been in this car on a runway where it blasted from 0-204mph in about 20 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest cars on the road, full stop. It’s not a production car, but SVM will make you one if you throw enough money their way – though it’ll probably be around £250,000! Personally I’d get one but keep the standard Qashqai styling as much as possible, even add some of those stick men stickers on the back window for full school-run mum chic. Then really surprise people at the lights…

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