Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Car Choice: Don't let a rubbish local dealer narrow your options

Shirley Moffat has a three-year-old diesel Fiat Multipla and wonders whether to replace it, but the family still needs enormous amounts of space. Shirley and her husband have daily 50-mile commutes on rural roads. Another Multipla is a possibility, but she does not like the local Fiat dealer. Her budget is £14,000.

A car for the head

Firstly, there is an argument for saving £14,000 by sticking with what they know and, as the manufacturer's warranty is almost up, purchasing another independent one. It's a shame that Shirley does not like the garage, but that always is a crucial relationship. Surely there must be a small independent dealer who can provide an efficient and cheaper service option? Just because you have a Fiat it doesn't mean that you must use them. Fiat now has a new compact MPV called the Qubo which starts at £9,750 and it has rear sliding doors and a huge boot. Not sure that three large offspring would be comfy in the back. I have a lot of time for the adapted vans such as the Peugeot Partner, which can be ordered with three individual rear seats. It has sliding rear doors and a massive boot. The driving position is comfy and the all-round visibility is excellent. Economy from the diesel engines returns just under 50mpg. Prices start at £12,000 for a new model.

A car for the heart

Maybe Shirley should consider a slightly used car and get a bit more for her money. The Ford S-Max is worth considering even though they may not make any use of the extra seats in the boot. At least that means more room for luggage. The S-Max is a good car to drive and feels like a small hatch rather than an MPV. Even better, it provides a very comfortable ride and there is ample room for five adults. There are three diesel options which deliver about 45mpg overall. One drawback could be a slightly lower driving position than is usual in an MPV. The larger Ford Galaxy may not be the answer, but it is just as good to drive as the S-Max. For £14,000 Shirley can get a 2006 1.8 TDCi Zetec S-Max with 56,000 miles or a 2007 Galaxy to the same spec and 12,000 miles from a Ford garage.


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