Car Choice: Perfection: leather seats and room for a bicycle in the back

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Jesper Groenvold is 52, returning to London from the United States, and needs a car. He wants comfort on the motorway and good handling when on the back roads. The car can't be too big because Jesper will be fighting for parking spaces in London NW1. He is also a keen cyclist, so getting a bike in the back is important, and most of the time there will only ever be two people in the car. Easy to clean leather seats are a must, and his budget is around £15,000.

A car for the head

Bicycles are a nightmare to get into just about all vehicles, although quick release wheels do help enormously – as do bike racks. However, Jesper wants to get his bike inside the vehicle and I think that is a sensible thing to do from a security perspective. I would be inclined to look at some people carriers, because the seats can be moved around and there is usually decent headroom. Getting leather upholstery in a working vehicle could be an issue. However, I think that a Nissan Qashqai could be the answer. It is best used as a four-seater, which is fine for Jesper. Certainly for his largish frame there is plenty of head and legroom, with a height-adjustable driver's seat and a steering column that can be moved up and down and in and out. So getting comfy is not a problem. For the bike there is a very large boot, and, most important of all, the seats can be folded forward. So even with the wheels on, it should be easy to get it inside the vehicle. Economy is something that Jesper mentioned, and a 1.5 diesel will return 53mpg. It isn't exciting to drive, but I don't think Jesper will mind. I found a 2008 model with Tekna specification, which comes as standard with leather interior, for £14,499 with 30,000 miles on the clock.

A car for the heart

Thinking about a more prestigious vehicle that is good to drive and is more likely to have leather seats, I have a very left-field suggestion – the Honda FR-V. This is a very unusual vehicle which is very flexible and features three seats at the front, just like a van. The clever thing is that the seat in the middle can be moved backwards and forwards and folded over to make a tray. As for the other seats, they can all be folded flat so that there is a large, flat load area which would mean that there is room for several bikes. Yes, it will be like a huge, comfortable and hopefully leather-lined commercial vehicle. There are a couple of engines – a 2.2 litre diesel, that will return around 44 mpg, and a 1.8 petrol. It is actually quite decent to drive, which should please Jesper, and yet it remains very comfortable on the motorway. Hondas regularly top reliability tables, so it will easily cope with an annual mileage of 8,000 miles. With £14,495 to spend, Jesper would be able to buy a 2008 FR-V with the EX specification – which will include leather seats – and with around 18,000 miles on the clock. So here is a six-seater which should be a very effective bike rack. At least it is different.

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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