Car Choice: Musician John is in need of a change of tune

John Huw Davies is 76 and a very lucky fellow as he owns two Volvo V70s – one petrol, one diesel. But they are now a problem. The low seating means that it is becoming difficult for him to get in and out. So what John needs is an automatic diesel vehicle that can carry keyboards, music stands, and stools, with easily moveable seats. He has £8,000 to spend.

A car for the head

High-rise seats have never been more popular as drivers of all ages find it makes sense to be more comfortable. Certainly getting in and out of a vehicle is an issue, but what John also needs is flexibility. So clever seats and ease of access inevitably brings me back to one of my favourite types of multi-purpose vehicle – the adapted van. I seem to mention one every other week, but they really do answer so many questions. Trouble is, a Renault Kangoo, Peugeot Partner, or Citroë* Berlingo cannot be bought for £8,000 with a diesel engine and automatic gearbox. Only the very latest models have these options. So let's start again, because not all diesel models have an automatic gearbox. Better then to buy a Vauxhall Zafira. A 1.9CDTi model would be a possibility even though the seats are not as clever as those of some rivals. The rear bench will fold in half and then slide up against the front seats, although each one can slide, fold and recline. Plus there is a very large rear boot. A 2007 or 2008 model in Exclusiv trim would certainly be within John's budget and is worth a closer look.

A car for the heart

Well, if we can't find John a Renault Kangoo then the next best thing would be a Renault Scenic – a compact people carrier with a suitably high driving position. The three individual rear seats can be moved around at will and even taken out altogether. That would potentially create a massive load area for all John's music items. Being a diesel it will be reasonably economic, although the automatic gearbox does penalise efficiency. Even so, 40-45mpg is achievable and overall running costs are fairly reasonable. John will find the ride and refinement excellent, making it a truly comfortable vehicle. In the classified adverts, a 2008 1.9 dCi Dynamique from a dealer is around £7,500, with a warranty, and with around 35,000 miles on the lock. The specification will include air conditioning, electric windows, and automatic lights and even wipers. Overall, it should be a very easy car to live with.

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.

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