David Sterne describes himself as "a young 63". He's a working actor whose old BMW needs replacing. Being on his own, David does not need a family car yet he likes the look of off-roaders and has always promised himself a vehicle with a bit of character. He enjoys driving and is determined to get plenty of use out of what he buys. David's budget is a decent enough £10,000.

A car for the head

What David needs is a car that only looks like a 4x4, rather than having all the extra mechanical plumbing, which makes a vehicle too heavy and less fuel-efficient. So, with that in mind, there does seem to be one car that would more than fit the bill: the Nissan Qashqai. It certainly looks like a 4x4 and has a fun and funky image. High ground clearance and lofty stance should fulfil all of David's visual needs. The Nissan, pictured, is a very decent car to drive and it will be comfortable enough on those long journeys that David enjoys. The driver's seat adjusts for height while the steering wheel moves for both height and reach. Indeed, the seats are very good and that high position means a great view out, the very best reason for buying most 4x4s. I think that the 1.6 petrol might be adequate enough for David, especially as he won't overload it. It will return 42mpg whereas the diesel will probably give you around 52mpg. In the classifieds, a 2008 1.6 petrol with around 5,000 miles on the clock will cost you about £9,950.

A car for the heart

Actually, the Qashqai is also pretty much it, as a car for the heart. However there is an alternative, which might be worth considering and that is called the Dodge Caliber. This isn't everyone's idea of a compact hatch, it does have its faults, but it's a good-value buy. The Caliber is comfortable enough as long as it isn't pushed too hard, which could be a problem as David admits he likes driving fast. The car will lean in corners, but maybe this will slow David down. He can then appreciate the soft nature of the suspension, which soaks up all the bumps. It isn't massive inside, but there is a decent boot. Choosing the 1.8 engine may not be the smartest move because it has a lot of weight to haul around which would slow David down, although the diesel 2.0 CRD is far more economical, returning 46mpg. Also the diesel is better when it comes to response and acceleration. While David weighs up petrol or diesel, he will find no shortage of equipment in a Caliber and he should at the very least go for an SE version, which has air conditioning. Prices start at just £5,995, which buys a 2007 example with 20,000 miles. Up to £10,000 means 2008 cars with very low mileages. I think David is spoilt for choice.

Looking to buy?

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