Car Choice: Impressive...a student who can afford a Volvo

Matt Francis, 20, has been driving an old Ford Escort for two years. But he now needs something bigger and safer. He has a thing about Volvo V40s, as he has seen several around for less than £3,000, with under 90,000 miles on the clock. Insurance, he says, is reasonable, considering he was paying £2,200 for his first-year , then £1,800 on his second. His quote for a 2002 V40 1.6 is £1,550.

A car for the head

So, even before I can leap in and lecture Matt about the implications of insurance for anyone under 25, Matt lays the facts, and what he afford, on the table. I'm impressed that a student can find such a large sum. I like the V40, but it is not exactly a load-lugger, and just buying one for the badge would be wrong. I do think Matt could buy a smaller estate car that would be just as spacious and safe, but far cheaper to insure. I would steer Matt towards a Vauxhall Astra estate. First of all, it is nice to drive – certainly better than the Volvo. As for load space, there is a very practical boot area, which is helped by a wide hatch door and a low sill. The rear seat obviously splits and folds too, to take those larger items. Meanwhile, Matt's mates will find that rear bench quite big and it will sit three across. There is a 1.4 engine which, to be honest, struggles with heavy loads, so the 1.6 would be better. For, say £2,000, a 1.6 model from 2000 with a lowish 51,000 miles on the clock would be worth considering.

A car for the heart

If the Astra has one drawback it would be that the styling is terminally dull. Both inside and out, it is not very inspiring at all. The upside, though, is practicality and low prices. However, there is another small estate car which does have rather more character. That would be the Ford Focus estate. It still looks different on the outside, and has a stylish interior too. Most of all, it is sporty to drive even with the smallest of engines. The 1.6 petrol would be the best all-rounder, returning up to 40mpg overall. The Astra probably has the edge in terms of spaciousness, but again five adults does not present a problem at all. Matt will find the boot a good size, perfect for a student's boxes and rucksacks. Depreciation may not have been as heavy on the Focus compared with the Astra, but it is still significant and that means that if Matt has £2,000 to spare then there is plenty of choice out there. A 2001 1.6 Zetec in gold paint from a dealer, with just 73,000 miles, seemed nice. But the fact that it had alloy wheels – and it was finished in attention grabbing gold – could affect the insurance. So Matt, don't just think Volvo when you want an estate.

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.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

    £40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

    Day In a Page

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?