Car Choice: Four wheels good, five wheels better

Peter and Christine Goodhugh are looking for a vehicle with seats that are higher than average as they have impaired mobility and need to be able to get in and out more easily.

One important feature is a full-size spare wheel, because they use a lot of unmade roads and do not want to rely on a space-saver wheel. They would prefer a five-door hatchback, with good boot space, and they have a budget of up to £20,000. However, they would like to avoid a large people carrier.

A car for the head

A full-sized spare wheel? Now there's an unusual but understandable request. As useful as the space-savers can be, full-size spares are usually only standard on luxury cars and 4x4s. I'd point Peter and Christine in the direction of the Skoda Roomster. Here is a tough little car with room for three in the back and plenty of space for a couple who want to sit high – and it also has a decent-sized boot. Actually, the entire rear seat can be removed which leaves an absolutely massive area for Peter and Christine to play with. The Roomster is well within budget, and I would recommend that they go for the SE version, which has air conditioning. The 1.2 TSI engine is efficient and economical, returning an official 49.6mpg. According to Skoda's website, it would cost around £13,805 on the road. As for the spare, well, I phoned my local dealer and he reckoned it would cost under £60.

A car for the heart

When a people carrier is just too much, as Peter and Christine insist, then one of those compact, adapted vans would be the most practical option. They have plenty of room, a pleasingly upright driving position, and lots of headroom, so getting in and out is far easier than in a standard hatchback. Once you've had a large tailgate, sliding rear doors and a flat load bay, it will be impossible to go back to a "conventional" hatch. That's why I like the Renault Kangoo, pictured left – unashamedly a van, but one which has been civilised, and which is now a tad more refined. I would recommend the Expression dCi 75 as the best value. It costs £13,655 and its diesel engine delivers a useful 54.3mpg. It comes with air conditioning, but a CD would be extra. Oh yes, and instead of a spare wheel, a can of stuff that you squirt in the tyre should it go flat. Luckily, a full-size spare is an option at just £10. For Peter and Christine, that will be worth every penny.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, 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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