Steve Musgrave, 65, needs a car to share with his wife for local shopping and motorway journeys. They often travel with their tall son so rear space is important. Steve wants a car that is quiet inside so he can listen to his radio and audio books. He does not like mini people carriers or 4x4s. The budget is £10,000.

A car for the head

When it comes to a car for the head, its Steve's son's head that we need to be concerned about. This becomes more difficult as compact people carriers are out of the question. So it has to be standard hatches, and for me the obvious choices are the Ford Focus or the Vauxhall Astra. Both models excel at keeping out road noise, but I would recommend that Steve goes for an extended test drive just to be sure. Also £10,000 will buy a well-equipped example that will still be under warranty. A 2008 Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 from a Ford dealer with 12,000 miles can be bought within the budget. With the Astra there are a lot of delivery mileage examples at dealers and car supermarkets, so a 1.4 Club model with just 11 miles is widely available.

A car for the heart

Refinement is a difficult thing to define. One manufacturer has consistently got it right with its attention to the quality and smoothness of the ride and that is Citroën. It has always concentrated on the suspension so that its cars run more smoothly, especially over the UK's uneven roads. With further advances in technology and greater attention to sound deadening and crash protection, the level of noise has been reduced still further. There are two models that may suit Steve and that is the C4, which is Ford Focus sized, and the much larger C5, which is Ford Mondeo scale. Although they have decent rear legroom, the headroom is slightly compromised by their sloping roofs. Steve would find the driving experience an excellent one when it comes to minimal extraneous noise. Being Citroëns they are also very good value and well equipped. At several Citroën dealers I could find a 2008 C4 Exclusive with 11,000 miles. A 2008 C5 with just 2,000 miles has a marginally noisy 1.6 diesel engine.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, 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.

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