Catherine Hickman is 21 and runs a 2008 Peugeot 207 which she wants to trade-in for an estate car. She has two dogs, which travel in cages in the back of the car.Catherine shows them, so she travels to dog shows and needs enough room in the car for a dog table, chairs, the dog's cages, then all the other things necessary for the day. She has £2,000 – plus whatever she gets for her 207.

A car for the head

So Catherine's 207 is really struggling, which means that she needs to get a decent price for it. Although I would need a lot more details about the car, I know that it has covered 25,000 miles. I believe Catherine should advertise it privately and should aim to get £5,000. As a trade-in she may struggle to get more than £4,000 for it. However, we must bear in mind the fact that Catherine, at just 21, needs to consider the insurance implications. It also sounds to me like she would be better off with a van. Mostly though it needs to be a compact car with a very flexible interior. So, sticking with the Peugeot range, which could help Catherine if she prefers to part exchange the 207, a Partner Combi would be the ideal replacement. We have written about this vehicle before – it has a huge boot and convenient rear sliding doors. A 1.6 Hdi is reasonable to insure, and a 2006 example is well within budget.

A car for the heart

I do think that the Partner Combi may be the perfect answer, but when it comes to what are effectively adapted vans, one of the most under appreciated is the Fiat Doblo. It is slow and square but spacious and just gets on with the job of shifting loads of stuff – even large furry dogs. Two cages would easily fit in the boot and with the rear seats folded there would be masses of space for all the other paraphernalia. This is where I think the rear sliding doors come into their own, allowing drivers and passengers to dip into the rear compartment without the inconvenience of pulling open a rear door. Catherine does potentially have a choice between two types of door. The Dynamic model has a normal lift up tailgate, whereas the Active is a much more like a van, having two unevenly split doors. There is a small 1.4 petrol engine, which may be adequate for Catherine, or a choice of more frugal diesels. For £5,000 she could get a 1.4 Active model made in 2006 or 2007 from a good dealer. Worth a look I think.

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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