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With the end of school holidays looming and thoughts turning to school runs, sports fixtures and myriad social events, it can be every parent’s nightmare. Taxi-land is with us once again.

Compact SUVs are hugely popular but small on space, especially in the boot, so rounding up half a football team is not that practical. This is where space and practicality rise above style.

The Citroen Picasso has long been a favourite for school runs, with lots of space for passengers and equipment, but there is a new kid on the block in the Peugeot Rifter, a first cousin.

It has almost everything a busy family could wish for: five or seven comfortable seats, three Isofix child seat fixtures, heaps of space for sports gear and, of course, the must, lots of safety features.

Parents will like the high driving position and good turning circle and the young ones will give a thumbs-up to the extra USB socket in the rear of the central console, the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink.

There are folding and removeable seats which can turn the Rifter into a huge load-carrier when not on family duties.

OK, the high-sided van look will not be a big talking point in the company of a 3008 or 5008 owner but you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Rifter – now a big favourite with taxi drivers, which is always a good recommendation for reliability. Prices start at €24,400 rising to €35,000 before delivery charges. There is a choice of a 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5 BlueHDi with varying power outputs.

The long body seven-seater version in Allure trim with the eight-speed automatic transmission mated to a 130bhp diesel power plant comes in at €32,970 and has a CO2 rating of 156g/km, which has a road tax of €200 at present – but expect big changes in the forthcoming budget.

Included at this price are cruise control and speed limiter, lane-keeping assist, speed limit recognition and voice recognition for radio, navigation and phone controls. There is overhead, under-seat and under-floor storage and tray tables on the rear of the front seats. The driver gets an 8in touchscreen and heads-up instrument panel.

The 130bhp diesel gives good pulling power and a smooth, quiet drive on 16in wheels. The eight-speed automatic shift is seamless and quickly moves to the most economical gear, and paddles give more driver control. Without a heavy load, or heavy foot, it is possible to get 5.8l/100km.

A seven-seat SUV would be about double the price and not as practical or spacious as the Rifter.

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