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Car Choice: Jane's dilemma: Gallic flair, or efficiency and reliability?

Jane Grimwood has a 10-year-old Peugeot 206 1.6 which is due for replacement as it has now covered an impressive 162,000 miles.

However, her annual mileage is now very modest. Jane needs five doors, but must have something more economical and tax friendly. Currently considering a Golf, she has previously owned mainly Hondas and Peugeots. Jane would like to spend less than £5,000, and she also wonders how best to sell her tidy, high-specification Peugeot.

A car for the head

Jane likes the idea of a Golf but knows that they hold their value, which makes them expensive compared with other hatchbacks. It is therefore a reasonable idea to pick cars that don't quite match the Golf's charisma, but have all of its practicality. For that reason I would nominate the Toyota Corolla. It is certainly a five-door hatchback in the mould of a Golf, but with much less buyer appeal. Yet it is nice to drive and has plenty of room inside, especially the back seats, with a thoroughly decent sized boot, too. Yes, there is nothing remotely exciting about the Corolla, but it is efficient and reliable. I would recommend that, with her low mileage, the 1.4 petrol engine will be perfectly adequate and overall should return over 40mpg. So just what could she buy? Well, with just over £4,000 to spend, a 2005 example, with 62,000 miles on the clock, with full service history, is a very realistic and sensible buy.

A car for the heart

Now I know that Jane loves her Peugeot and is realistic enough to accept that a Golf is out of her price range. In that case she should consider another French car with plenty of Gallic flair – the Citroë* C4 (pictured). Like the Peugeot it is interesting to drive but has been styled to make it quieter and more economical. With that in mind, the 1.4 petrol engine will return more than 40mpg. It has always been great value for money, with an incredibly high specification list, which includes cruise control, electric windows, mirrors and a CD player. The interior has a digital dashboard and a steering wheel boss that stays fixed so that the ancillary controls stay in the same place. Depreciation plays a big factor, and with £4,000 to spend Jane can buy herself a 2007 1.4 with just 41,000 miles on the clock. That is direct from a dealer with a warranty. Oh yes, and Jane's old car? Well, she should clean it, get everything in order, and then mention it is for sale to friends and family first. If no one responds, then try a local ad, and, finally, eBay.

Looking to buy?

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