Car Choice: Must be reliable and economical – with added gravitas

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Jaye Ash is in his early 40s and moving out of London to a semi-rural location in Surrey to set up his own consultancy business. Consequently, he wants a car that is reliable, economical, good environmentally, and projects a distinctive image as he will use it for his business. He has between £6,000 and £8,000 to spend, and wants a vehicle that is as new as possible and with as low a mileage as possible – oh, and ideally it should not be attractive to thieves.

A car for the head

I won't be fooled by Jaye's semi-rural location, or by the fact that his ideal vehicle is a BMW X3. I really don't think that he will need a 4x4 vehicle at all. Better to go for quality and a prestige badge – but in a compact package. As for being stolen, the majority of cars built in the past decade have in-key immobilisers. So if the thieves don't have the key, they don't stand a chance of getting the car. For reliability, I would always recommend Japanese – like a Honda Civic. However, for Jaye an Audi A3 might provide the business gravitas he needs. When it comes to quality, few other cars are as well finished. However, this does come at a price, because if he wants low miles and recent registration then he ought to be looking at a Kia or Hyundai or another of the "emerging" marques. If he wants to stick with the establishment, then it will have to be the smaller engined three-door. In fact the 1.6 returns a creditable 42mpg overall. I found a 2006 example, with 41,000 miles on the clock, for £8,000. If Jaye wants a diesel then the mileage would be higher.

A car for the heart

Well, if Jaye wants an X3, there aren't many about for less than £8,000. The cut off is £7,999 and on average that will buy a 2004 2.5i or 3.0i petrol which will have covered 90,000 miles. I feel that downsizing would be the best way into a BMW and all the vehicle he'll need is a 1 Series (inset). This is a car that Jaye will definitely enjoy. That it is rear-wheel drive should not be an issue – even in bad weather. If we have a repeat of last winter's snow, all Jaye has to do is buy some winter tyres and he will be fine. Otherwise he should get a Volkswagen Golf, which is more spacious and is front-wheel drive. I do feel that a 1 Series sends all the right business messages. In the classified ads I managed to find 2004 and 2005 116SEs with around 30/40,000 miles on the clock for under £8,000. Later models or diesels will, like the A3, have much higher mileages. Incidentally, that engine will return a reasonable 37.7mpg.

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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