After previously living one mile from work, Andrew Knox now has a 60-mile round trip. He tells me that he intends to borrow against his offset mortgage, and pay off the interest and expected depreciation each month. He is budgeting on £250 per month for total purchase and running costs. He needs a reliable and safe hatchback.

A car for the head

As I often point out, depreciation is the biggest single cost of motoring – and that includes fuel. I don't like the idea of Andrew borrowing money when he should be embracing Bangernomics. I think Andrew, recently redundant, should save up and buy a cheap petrol car rather than borrow, and then worry about the monthly running costs. For instance a Toyota Corolla is an incredibly cheap and reliable car. For £795 he could get himself a 1998 1.3GS with just 54,000 miles and two previous owners. It has five doors, is in a low insurance group, and I predict that apart from fuel Andrew won't spend any more each month. Indeed, the 1.3 engine will return 41mpg, which is good enough for the commute. It's an ugly but hugely practical car.

A car for the heart

I know that Andrew wants a decent sound system, so I will make a CD player the bear minimum in his car for the heart. Again, I don't want Andrew to be locked into a monthly repayment cycle when there are so many great options out there. Another underrated and overlooked model is the Seat Cordoba, which has the advantage of proven Volkswagen technology wrapped up in a fairly boring saloon body. It is a solid and reliable package, which is perfect as an undemanding small family car. I looked at quite a few below £1,000 and although I could find models equipped with cheap luxuries such as air conditioning, there were only ancient radio/cassettes in the dashboard. However, you can buy new CD players for £50 so Andrew should not be too concerned. The smaller petrols will return around 36 mpg, while the noisy 1.9D will manage 48mpg. Starting at £695 there was a mixture of very clean petrols and diesels available. A 1999 example, with fresh MOT and a 1.4 engine that will return 38mpg seemed like a bargain at £695 and a brilliant new start for Andrew.

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