Trevor Cooper wants to know what sort of vehicle his son and daughter-in-law (thirtysomethings) should buy to suit their interest in cycling and camping. They need to load their bikes and their camping gear inside the car, so space and practicality are the top priorities. They do not cover a huge mileage and would consider petrol or diesel, but would welcome reasonable economy. They have £5,000 to spend, plus whatever they get for their 53 reg Focus 1.6.

A car for the head

Another week, another Car Choice involving bicycles and camping gear, and the obvious choice of an adapted van like a Citroë* Berlingo, Renault Kangoo, or Peugeot Partner. Depending on mileage, condition, and other factors, Trevor's son could get up to £2,000 for the Focus. I will assume, then, that they will have £6,500 to play with and I'll steer clear of all the above vehicles. I would point Trevor and his son in the direction of a Fiat that is shorter than the current Focus, but potentially has a massive amount of room inside. The Fiat Multipla seats six, three at the front and three at the rear. Although the rear seats can be folded forward I would be inclined to remove them. That leaves three up front for passenger versatility, while the rear load bay is massive. The bikes should fit without too much problem and leave lots of space for all the bits and pieces needed for camping. The 1.9JTD 115 will return 44mpg and £6,500 will buy a 2005/2006 example.

A car for the heart

Pretty much a car for the head and also the heart is a Citroë* Xsara Picasso. Here is a compact people carrier which is cheap, easy to drive, and nice to live with. The only way to describe the Picasso is egg shaped, and that means there is lots of room inside. The three rear seats are individual items and therefore can be removed to create as much space as you need. They also fold and tip so there are plenty of options, but when bikes are involved I always believe that they should be removed. There is always the option of a bike rack, but I understand that for security and convenience, getting them inside is always better. The most economic engine choice would be the diesel and the 1.6 HDi, which can return over 57mpg. The 1.6 is cheaper and slower and will deliver over 37mpg. A Desire model makes the most sense because it has air-conditioning. A 2006, high specification Exclusive 1.6 diesel, with electric windows, electric sunroof, and cruise control, will cost from £6,000 upwards.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@, 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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