Car Choice: Keep the home fires burning – if you can fit in the logs

Patrick Elsdale loved his Subaru Forester, which has just been sold, and he wants to replace it with something that feels just as indestructible and roomy. Patrick needs to get a bike inside as well as logs for his wood burner. Ideally it needs to be much greener and more economical than the old Forester. He has £3,000 to £4,000 to spend and is looking forward to owning a vehicle that is not only comfortable and roomy but also feels solid.

A car for the head

Carrying bikes is a notoriously difficult thing to do easily and often a van is the simplest answer. It also explains why so many opt for racks on the roof or boot. So I hope that Patrick will consider that option – the rack, not a van. Luckily I have direct experience of both putting a bike and logs on board a vehicle recently. Yes, I own a Volvo V70, which I reckon, ticks the majority of Patrick's boxes. First and foremost, it has the sort of robust build quality that Patrick will find reassuring after the Forester. The interior is very solid and takes loads of abuse, yet a quick brush and mop-up soon returns the showroom shine. I would add that Patrick really ought to put some plastic sheeting or a blanket in the load bay before bringing on the logs. Also a full-sized bike will fit at the back with half the rear seats folded. It is a challenge: even the rear is huge and removing a wheel helps, but I still feel a rack would be best. A diesel engine would boost the miles per gallon for Patrick and, of course, diesels emit less CO2 although there is still a particulate issue. For £4,000 you can get a 2001 V70 with 80,000 miles with a warranty from a dealer.

A car for the heart

I would certainly like to recommend something Subaruish for Patrick, but I don't think that anything actually fits the bill at the moment. So we are back to estate cars. Much as I would like to recommend a Mercedes E Class, which is pretty huge, the level of complication and the compromise on build quality that a car within this budget would bring means that I would urge him to consider a Vauxhall. No, really, the last-generation Vectra in estate car form is a quite astounding load-shifter. The rear seats fold easily and that opens up a huge number of luggage options. I would also say that the quality of the fit and finish is a revelation to do those who haven't been near a mid-size Vauxhall since they were called Cavaliers. The turbo diesel engines are very flexible and deliver 47mpg, which is decent going for a hard working practical car. For £4,000 you can buy a 2004 example with LS trim, air conditioning and remote locking. For the money Patrick is likely to get much better value and a far wider choice because there are many more examples in circulation. This is a reliable, high-quality and well-equipped estate car that does not deserve to be overlooked.

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.

Suggested Topics
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
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

    KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

    £115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

    Administrative Assistant

    £60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

    Web Application Support Manager

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

    ** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

    £120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments