Car Choice: Commuting? Perhaps it's time to think outside the hatch
Sunday 21 June 2009
Jennifer Arkell's first car, a Fiat Seicento, was written off after an accident. She wants a replacement that is a bit larger, but in an equally low insurance bracket. Jennifer, 27, has £4,000 to spend, though she could stretch this to £5,000 for the right car. She wants decent back-seat space for occasional passengers. She covers about 5,000 to 6,000 miles a year, mostly commuting, with a few motorway trips.
A car for the head
The Fiat Seicento is OK as a starter car, but leaves a lot to be desired as a daily hatchback, and the rear accommodation is marginal. We can do much better for Jennifer and all within £4,000. All she needs to agree to is a four door, which always makes life a lot easier if you plan on having some friends along for the ride. Indeed the Kia Picanto, which we have also recommended recently, was designed with passengers in mind, having larger wider opening doors. It's great value, cheap to run, and feels a lot more grown up than the Fiat. You could easily get a 2006 model for £4,000, which may still have some of the manufacturer's warranty left. Alternatively, if Jennifer wants to stick with the Fiat brand, the Panda would be an obvious choice. Depending on the model that Jennifer buys, there should be plenty of room in the back for two large adults, plus a decent boot space. Basic Active models have a fixed rear seat, but the better ones, Dynamic upwards, will split-fold, slide, and even recline. A 1.1 or 1.2 engine should be enough, even on the motorway. A 50mpg average is possible and £4,000 should get you a 2005 top-specification Eleganza with around 27,000 miles on the clock.
A car for the heart
One of the very best and most underrated small hatchbacks is the Mazda 2. It's actually big enough for a small family so Jennifer should find it very spacious and, as it is a Mazda, very reliable. It is based on a Ford Fiesta but is actually much more practical than that model. Inside, there's bags of usable space for everyone with tons of head and legroom both front and rear. It is actually possible because of the clever design to get three adults in the rear in some degree of comfort. Up front, Jennifer will find that the layout of the dashboard and the high-set driving position will mean she enjoys a relaxed and easy time either around town or on those rare motorway trips. The basic S will be the cheapest to run and insure and will only have remote locking and stereo buttons on the steering wheel as the most notable options. The smallest 1.25 petrol will return almost 45mpg and be slow, but still interesting to drive. I found a 2004 1.25 S in the classified ads with just 17,000 miles for £4,190. It was at a dealer, so it had a warranty back-up, and even came with air conditioning, quite rare on the base model.
Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested and your budget.
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Boxing Day sales: From Asos to Harrods, the best fashion deals
Healthy living could have prevented half a million cancer cases over last five years
The food fad that's starving Bolivia
'Tis the season!: Google celebrates Christmas Eve with second animated Doodle
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...
£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...