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Car Choice: Practical, reliable, economical – and everything can be done at the touch of a button

Kevin Allen describes himself as semi-disabled and needs a car with automatic transmission and power steering, which can be fitted with SDL infrared control with a steering ball. The car is used for urban driving, up to 100 miles per week. His budget is £5,000 to £10,000.

Just in case you were wondering, infrared steering ball controls are ideal for anyone who finds driving difficult with two hands, or who can drive with only one hand. They can be used with either the right or left hand. It allows the operation of many of the car's controls simply by pressing a button. The modified car can be driven as normal and the transmitter can be removed from the steering wheel. That gives Kevin a pretty much free choice when it comes to vehicles, although the unit will cost at least £1,000 and needs to be fitted by a vehicle electrician. What Kevin needs is a practical and reliable car that is economical to run.

A car for the head

When it comes to space, low running costs and driving pleasure, the Focus is almost unbeatable. Finding one with an automatic gearbox won't be a problem. The 1.6 petrol engine is quiet and smooth and will be more than adequate. The driving position is excellent as the seat height can be adjusted, and the steering wheel, for rake and reach. The LX trim would probably be best for Kevin, which is tuned for comfort. At a Ford dealer in Slough we found a 2006 automatic model that had done 11,500 miles for £9,000. The only concern is that the ride is a little bit firm.

A car for the heart

I think Kevin ought to take a closer look at the Vauxhall Corsa, which is a particularly comfortable hatchback. It has a decent amount of space, well-built interior and is good value for money too. The 1.4 petrol engine is very economical and should return over 45mpg. Kevin should go for the more practical five-door version, which has a usefully large boot. Kevin should also enjoy the excellent driving position, thanks to the seat height and steering wheel adjustment. He should also go for at least Life specification, although the Club has even more driving adjustment. At car supermarkets we found several 2007 1.4 automatics with delivery mileage, (14 miles) for just £9,000.

looking to buy?

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