Dr Daniele Albertazzi is 40 and is looking for a family car with five doors. She needs it to be relatively green, with low CO2 emissions and she does not need a particularly powerful vehicle. She has considered the Citroë*C4 and Ford Focus and is hoping to spend £5,000. She also has a car to trade in, which she would consider selling herself. But Daniele also wonders what happens if there is a problem with her 2003 Ford Ka, which has 55,000 miles on the clock, after it has been sold.

A car for the head

First of all, Daniele should not worry about her Ka. By all means she should sell it privately, which will be relatively easy as it is a popular and economical car. Provided she does not misrepresent the condition of the car, it will be "sold as seen" in a private sale. Otherwise, if she does not want the hassle of selling a car, then it can easily form the basis of a part-exchange deal. Although only "trade" money is realised, it does make life a lot simpler, and Daniele should not deal exclusively with internet sales. She says that they make part-exchanging difficult – well she should only deal with local car traders who will take her car and offer a decent warranty on the replacement. With that in mind, what car should Daniele buy? A Toyota Corolla would be one option, which would deliver a family sized hatchback, which has plenty of space inside, with a big boot and a good level of standard equipment. Even better, it is a fantastically reliable car that is comfortable and refined. Allowing for a £6,000 budget that includes the part-exchanged Ka, a 2005/2006 T-Spirit diesel is available from a dealer with around 60,000 miles. It would, of course, come with a warranty.

A car for the heart

I agree with Daniele that a Ford Focus would be a good value choice which is easy to buy and cheap to run. I would also suggest that the closely related Mazda 3, pictured, is worth a try. Like the Focus it is good to drive but, unlike the Ford, it is a tad more distinctive. Also, going for the 1.6D would mean slightly lower CO2 figures than the Toyota Corolla. However, I would urge Daniele not to be too obsessed by low CO2 stats, which can be very misleading, because pollution also depends on how you actually use the car. Many also believe that the dangerous particulates emitted from a diesel are more of a threat than CO2. It's up to Daniele whether she goes for a diesel or the 1.6 petrol, but what she will find is a spacious and comfortable family car. It has a great driving position and a decent sized boot, and if Daniele enjoys driving then the handling is very similar to the almost sporty Focus. It may be worth going for the TS specification, which has air conditioning and a CD player, whereas the Sport adds nothing more than a body kit and alloy wheels, which are rather pointless. Just £6,295 buys a 2005 Mazda 3 1.6 diesel from a dealer with 56,000 miles. I recommend Daniele takes one for a spin.

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.

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