Car Choice: A perfect tin box for Doctor Dick the biker

Doctor Dick Penfold, 60, is a lifelong biker, and although he would rather buy another bike, he accepts that he does need what he describes as a tin box on four wheels. Unhappy with his current Fiat Sedici, he needs a four-wheel drive replacement. It must be higher quality, have a lot more room in the back, and be able to handle Dick's regular 1,250-mile journey to Italy. His budget is a decent £17,000.

A car for the head

I know that Dick needs a car that is going to be much more reliable and better built than his Fiat, but it does not need to be a full 4x4. Luckily there are plenty of options. When it comes to reliability you have to look at cars designed or built in Japan. Models that originate from the Far East consistently top the reliability surveys. So my recommendation would be a Honda CR-V. Here is a so-called soft roader which is spacious, practical and reliable. New examples now start at £21,445, so I think Dick should consider a model that is a few years old which will provide better value for money. The 2.2 iD-TEC will return just over 40mpg and the SE specification means air conditioning – which is the very least Dick will want for his jaunt across Europe. His £17,000 will buy a 2007 model with 50,000 miles on the clock in EX specification.

A car for the heart

What Dick may well want is something like an Audi or BMW. Certainly, the Audi Quattro estate, and the larger A6, may well fit in better with Dick's view of what an upmarket estate-based 4x4 should be. However, I would also suggest that Dick should take a closer look at the Subaru Legacy estate. His budget would get a 2008 model with 20,000 on the clock. Inside, some might say that the Audi is far better-finished, but the Subaru is just as solid, not as flash and mechanically rather more indestructible. Over the years Subarus have racked up huge mileages and the only downside is higher than average repair costs. But in my experience the big bills would only come at extreme mileages. The 2.0TD engine will return up to 50mpg and an R-Spec model will mean that just about everything is standard. I managed to find several 2008 models on offer at main dealers, which would be ideal for Dick to take for a spin.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, or email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.