Car Choice: Plenty of jazzy options out there for the more mature driver

Margaret Wijnberg has a 1992 Vauxhall Cavalier and wants a more modern car that is smaller, greener and more economical. Margaret is 82, so an automatic gearbox, excellent all-round visibility and a high driving position would be better for her arthritis. She has specified low mileage but no budget.

A car for the head

Margaret won't have to spend a fortune to get what she really needs. There are lots of small cars with automatic gearboxes and higher than average seating positions. One of the best known is the Ford Fusion, which is a sort of high-rise Ford Fiesta and is a favourite with more senior drivers because getting in and out is easier. It also scores well on visibility because of the wide expanse of glass all round. There is an automatic version which works with a 1.4 engine and Margaret should still expect to get around 40mpg. Servicing costs are very reasonable. Although expensive to buy when new, the Fusion has depreciated to the point where it is now affordable and Margaret would not have to pay more than £4,000. I found a 2005 example with just 20,000 miles, which allowed for a minimum £1,000 part-exchange sum, making the car £3,999. That is the sort of painless deal that she needs especially as there will be a minimum one-year guarantee, which could be renewed annually.

A car for the heart

Although Margaret probably does not want a car to love, for a bit more character and style I would point Margaret towards the Honda Jazz. This is a high-quality small car, which actually has masses of room inside. Indeed, although it will be smaller than the Cavalier, Margaret will probably find that the storage space in the boot and interior accommodation are better than her old car. Depreciation makes this normally pricey car more affordable. Also, being a Honda the reliability is not in question and running costs will be low. For automatic gearbox, Margaret will have to go for the 1.4 DIS engine which is economical and she can expect mid-40s mpg. For a 2002 example with just 29,000 miles, Margaret should expect to pay about £3,600 which is great value for money.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, 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.