Car Choice: A strapping teenage son needs room to grow


David Remmer has a Mini Cooper S, which is used for the school run and the daily journey to the railway station. However, his 14-year-old son is now 5ft 9ins, which means getting him in the back of the Mini is no longer an option. Ideally, David is looking for a car with five doors, decent rear legroom, which is small and easy to park, with an automatic gearbox. He wants lots of equipment and has a generous £25,000 budget.

A car for the head

David admits that he is a huge BMW fan and is considering the 120d, 320d and X3 models. Instead, I will point out some compact, spacious – and hopefully stylish – alternatives. The most obvious choice might be a Nissan Qashqai. However, I'd direct David towards Nissan's rather more distinctive Juke model. It is still fresh enough to turn heads. This is a high-rise vehicle with a decent amount of room – although David should check whether his son has enough headroom in the back, as it does slope slightly. There is the option of four-wheel drive, but the priority is an automatic gearbox and there is a CVT with a 1.6 litre engine with top of the range Tenka specification. It has rain sensing wipers, sat nav, leather trim, rear privacy glass, and plenty of other bits of standard kit. Extras can include a chrome pack, aluminum luggage rack, parking sensors and even Ambience lighting. Without adding any of those items, a 1.6 2WD CVT Tenka costs £18,050.

A car for the heart

Clearly what David needs is what is now called a crossover vehicle. With that in mind, the latest Mini Countryman would be an option. He will be astounded at the amount of room in the back of this stretched Mini. The two door is a joke, but the four door makes much more sense as the rear seats can be moved forward and back so that it is possible to adjust the boot and interior space. Oh yes, there is even an option of four or five seats. The four seater has a central section, which means that storage boxes or iPods can be attached too. As well as plenty of room, the Countryman can be specified with an "All 4" four-wheel drive system. Not only that, Peter could also go for the high performance Cooper and Cooper D versions. Having fun on the www.mini.co.uk website meant that I could configure a Cooper D All4 Countryman for £20,300. It would have air conditioning, heated door mirror, park distance control, with the option of adding all sorts of accessories to make it prettier or more playful.

Looking to buy?

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

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