Richard and Theresa Brunger have a Seat 1.4 Ibiza Sport which they bought new in 2006. It's done 20,000 miles, has a full service history and is in good condition. They want to part-exchange for a new car but will consider second hand if the mileage is low. They have £5,000 to add to the Seat's part-exchange value but could stretch a bit further.

A car for the head

This is an odd one because Richard and Theresa's existing car is relatively new. It will have depreciated to the point where the most they can get for is is around £4,500 if they sell it privately, or maybe £3,500 in part exchange. The patter of tiny feet was not mentioned but I assume they need a larger, more practical hatchback. So, what can they get with between £8,500 and £9,500 to spend? Well, keeping with the Seat range, there's the Altea, an MSV (multi-sports vehicle). It is a high-rise hatchback with five seats. The rear ones split and fold and the boot has two levels, giving underfloor storage. This is a versatile package available with petrol engines that start at 1.6 and grow to 2.0 litres, and there is also a turbo version. The 1.6 may be adequate for the Brungers especially as their mileage is quite modest and they don't cover many motorway distances. For £9,000, I found a 2008 1.6 XL Reference at a car supermarket with just 12,000 miles on the clock.

A car for the heart

Alternatively, a Ford Focus would make a very sensible buy. It's good to drive, spacious and economical, with low insurance and servicing costs. The latest model is well within the Brungers' budget and is one of the best small family hatchbacks around. Inside, the driving position is very comfortable with plenty of driver's seat and steering wheel adjustment. Richard and Theresa should aim for the Style level of trim, which has air conditioning and remote audio controls as well as the electric front windows on the standard model. The 1.6 petrol is likely to be the best option. It should return 42mpg in combined driving conditions. There are plenty around at car supermarkets, main Ford agents and private sales. I did find a 2008 example for £9,000 at a Ford main dealer. It was a 1.6 Style with just 4,300 miles and a decent specification including air con, CD player, and remote locking.

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.

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