Car Choice: An ugly duckling could win this beauty contest

Raphic Gunny is 50, and needs a car that he can comfortably fit all five members of his family in. He wants reliability, and after many years with a Toyota Carina E, Raphic is not used to any breakdowns. He now needs a lot more space, and that means he is looking at people carriers, such as the Ford Galaxy. The budget is between £5,000 and £5,500.

A car for the head

Raphic is right to look at the Galaxy, which is the UK's favourite people carrier. But there are several alternatives. It seems that spaciousness is the key, rather than the number of seats, but perhaps the biggest and best value would be a Kia Sedona. It has bags of space, plenty of equipment, and a diesel engine able to cope with large loads. With the two rearmost seats taken out, the boot space is absolutely huge. The rear seats all slide and recline, so there will be no problem getting comfy. The excellent standard equipment list includes air conditioning and electric windows across the range. It is a big vehicle overall, and the 2.9TD diesel is supposed to return around 36mpg. General reliability has been very good, so it should be trouble free. For £5,000 you can buy a 2005 2/9 CRDi SE with 69,000 miles on the clock, or a lower specification L with 50,000 mileage.

A car for the heart

The Fiat Doblo Dynamic is very, very ugly, but extremely practical, with an immense amount of room. Being based on a van, the boot is absolutely huge, and being flat and square helps when loading up too. This is a workhorse then, and may be too basic for Raphic, but it is still worth considering. The Dynamic has air conditioning, a CD player and alloy wheels. There are plenty of engine options, but depending on Raphic's annual mileage, the hard-working diesels would be the best options, and should return around 50mpg. The Doblo was a good value buy when new, so it should be possible to get a lot of car for around £5,000. A 2006 1.9 with just 31,000 miles on the clock and in Active specification with air conditioning and central locking with a warranty from a dealer should fit Raphic's lifestyle.

James Ruppert's new book The German Car Industry: My Part in Its Victory, is out now (Foresight Publications) and is also available via at £12.99 including p&p.

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.