Car Choice: Economy and 4x4 toughness aren’t such a tall order

Brendon Clare currently drives a Nissan X-Trail but wants something a bit more economical on fuel. Although he doesn’t necessarily need a full-time 4x4, the vehicle must have reasonable ground clearance as the family lives up a bumpy farm track. In all, Brendon travels about 75 miles a day to and from work. He has been considering a Subaru Forester, which was suggested by a friend and wonders whether this would be right.

A car for the head

Firstly, the Subaru would be the wrong choice on fuel consumption alone. They are fine vehicles, but the petrol-only vehicle’s engine struggles to 30mpg. I know that Brendon has a diesel X-Trail that manages almost 40mpg and I would argue that that is a decent return on a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I would recommend that Brendon keeps the Nissan, as part exchanging would be pointless if there is nothing wrong. Being a family of four, though, they could fit into a vehicle that gets overlooked, which is the Suzuki SX4. This does have a higher ground clearance and four-wheel drive and is effectively a large hatchback. Brendon will have to see if he can fit the whole family and luggage inside. This is certainly a very well-equipped and good-value car. Air conditioning, CD player, electric windows and electric door mirrors are all standard. If Brendon went for the 1.6 DDiS model, then he will get overall fuel consumption of 53.3mpg, which should please him. Prices start at £11,999 for this model, although a search around some dealers found a 2008 example with just 3,000 miles on the clock for £8,499. Otherwise it would be the 1.9 2006 model with 20,000 miles for £6,750 but will return only the same mpg as Brendon’s current Nissan.

A car for the heart

If Brendon likes Nissans, then the Qashqai (right) may be the answer. It is effectively a small family car, but it is styled to look like an off-roader and consequently has a much higher ride height, so it should easily cope with a bumpy farm track. The model has been very well received, not least because it has plenty of room for four inside and even five at a stretch. Brendon will have got used to the X-Trail’s excellent high driving position, and the Qashqai is no different. The build quality overall is very good and the fact that the Qashqai is a cheaper vehicle is not noticeable either inside or out. However, because it does not have four wheel drive, the mpg figures for the diesel 1.5dci means that it returns an impressive 52.3mpg overall. The basic Visia model has a decent level of standard equipment that includes air conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows and a hands-free phone kit. A good-value model when new, it is possible to buy a 2008 car for £10,995 with 9,000 miles, which is excellent as the vehicle is still under warranty. And a Nissan dealer will be happy to part-exchange his X-Trail.

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.