Okay so this may be a bit stereotypical but nonetheless true. Many female drivers need a vehicle that has enough space and headroom to accommodate the children as well as a major shop from the local supermarket. What many don’t want, is one of those large 7 seater people carriers that guzzle fuel, are expensive to insure, and unwieldy to drive. The car manufacturers realised this a while ago and developed the concept of the compact MPV. This is a smaller vehicle that is styled similarly to those bigger MPVs with extra headroom, rear space and decent storage space but with a footprint not much bigger than a super mini. The compact MPV is like a Tardis of the motor industry if you like.

With a lot of concerns about greener motoring, efficient fuel consumption and the prospect of a 25% hike in insurance premiums due to equality legislation, many families are now turning to the compact MPV as the solution to some of these issues. Here we have produced our list of the top 3 such vehicles on the market at the moment:

Ford C-Max

This is a five seater MPV with a range of engines to suit all tasted. The entry model has a basic 1.6 litre engine that is surprisingly good around town and springs into life on the motorway. It has an ingenious seating system that can turn 5 seats into four roomier seats when required. Many people considering a car based on eco-credentials might opt for 1.6 litre TDCi with a combined economy of just over 61 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km

Nissan Note

Launched in 2006, this car is still built in Britain by Nissan. Although spacious and roomy it is barely longer than the latest superminis. It has more headroom and a spacious feel inside the car and features many ingenious storage features and seating arrangements for passengers as well as an elevated driving position. Engines range from a 1.4-litre entry-level petrol engine to a  1.6 with an automatic gearbox option and a 1.5 litre dCi which is the only engine with the option of an automatic gearbox and a 1.5-litre dCi economy diesel engine. The prices are good too, coming in at only around 10% more expensive than a like-for-like Nissan Micra.

Citroen Picasso

Citroen has become a major player in the MPV market and with the simple but elegantly functional features the C3 Picasso has become something of a sales sensation. The popularity of the car proves that Citroen understands the requirements of the modern family and has reflected this is in design and development. In a car that has plenty of character, the engine choice has been kept simple with two petrol engines and two diesels The petrol engines are 1.4 and 1.6 litre and both diesel options are 1.6.

For a family with a lady driver that needs functionality with a touch of elegance on the side, then these are a great choice. In terms of making the weekly household budget stretch further, the better economy and lower insurance costs make a lot of sense too.