Graeme King wants a small car for commuting while his BMW 330Ci rests in the garage. He wants a small diesel because cheap running costs are the most important thing. I know the 1.4 TDCi in Ford Fiestas qualifies for £35 road tax and Graeme asked at a local Ford dealer about the Options finance package, but they cost about £13,000 which he thought was too much.

A car for the head

Graeme is not alone in wanting to swap or at least semi-retire an expensive car. He will keep the BMW but use it on weekends and on holiday, whereas the daily grind will be left to a new small car. It needs to be new, because Graeme wants a hassle-free life with a full manufacturer's warranty. At the moment there are some low-rate finance deals on the all-new Ford Fiesta, although the old-shape model can still be bought with extra specification packages at no extra charge. Some brokers can offer discounts of at least 20 per cent, but as Graeme wants the car for only three years before getting another, a PCP (personal contract purchase) where he has the option to give the car back at the end of the term may have more appeal. Small petrol engines can be just as economical as small diesels. A Kia Picanto 1.0 which can be put on the road for £5,995 and returns 57.6mpg can be bought for £99 a month. All Graeme needs is to find a deposit of £999 and then pay £99 a month for 37 months. He then has the option to pay £299 to buy the car outright.

A car for the heart

Graeme has looked at the Toyota Aygo and he wondered whether the Citroën C1 was similar. He is correct, because apart from the badges and a different front end, it can be bought as a C1 and also a Peugeot 107. The cheapest version has been the Citroë*and a 1.0i that returns an impressive 61.4mpg can be bought for just over £7,000. Citroë*is the master of special offers: it is now possible to get the basic Vibe on the road for £6,245 which includes a cashback of £1,300. At any one time Citroë*is running a whole bunch of offers, and from talking to dealers it is possible to get a C1 on the road very easily. Its personal lease plan called Drivenow would give Graeme the option of running a C1 for less than it costs to insure his BMW each month! So just over £100 a month makes sense right now and Graeme does not have to compromise on driving fun. The C1 is cheap, cheerful and it is very different from a BMW, being young, funky and colourful too. Over long journeys the small engine might be annoying, but Graeme's got a different car for that. Day to day, the C1 will be perfect.

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.

Search for used cars