Car choice: Seasoned travellers seek comfort on the autoroute
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Sunday 15 November 2009
Hein and Carol Velissarides are 70 and 72 but still active enough (in the vehicular sense) to want to ensure that their car will take them safely on their various continental jaunts. They have a Mazda 626 saloon, but with the mileage at about 130,000 it may potentially be edging into the expensive part of its life. They are wondering about a replacement which will possibly, in their words, “see us out”. Their budget, including part-exchanging the old Mazda, is £12,000.
A car for the head
Mr and Mrs Velissarides have made this easy for me – all they want is four doors, an automatic gearbox, and the usual complement of sunroof, air conditioning and any other extras that make motoring more pleasant. Their present car, a Mazda 626, is a very reliable vehicle and there is no reason why it could not last for another 100,000 miles or more. But this may be a good time to upgrade, and nothing could be better than a Mazda 6. This is another superb Mazda which should prove to be just as reliable, yet will be better to drive, and more comprehensively equipped. The only item Mr and Mrs Velissarides may have to compromise over is the sunroof, which would be a special order. They could be lucky though, and the last generation Mazda 6 was good to drive, nicely styled and cheap to run. The 2.0 petrol version would probably be best for all-round refinement and there will be the minimal amount of fuss on those continental journeys. For just £9,750 they can buy a 2007 model which is still under manufacturer's warranty. I found a 6,000 miles 2.0TS2 automatic with electric sunroof, which is remarkable value.
A car for the heart
I believe the Mazda would be the car that the Velissarides would love on a day-to-day basis. I would be reluctant to recommend a car that is not Japanese because of their deserved reputation for reliability. I also think they would be used to the quality and robustness of their construction, so I believe that a Honda Accord (pictured) could be the obvious alternative choice. What buyers get with the Accord is a generous amount of space and a very relaxed drive. There may also be a slightly more upmarket feel with the Honda compared to the Mazda. The 2.0 litre petrol engine is also slightly more economical at 38mpg, although main dealer running costs could be more. Certainly there is no shortage of equipment, as the standard specification is very generous. I would recommend a test drive, not least because the high sides and thick screen pillars can hamper the view for some drivers. In the classified ads I found a 2007 2.0I Vetec EX – with the all-important electric sunroof – for £10,999 at a Honda main dealer. It also came with cruise control, driver lumbar support, leather seats, and CD player, making this a very comfortable car to be in, especially on an autoroute.
Hein and Carol Velissarides are 70 and 72 but still active enough (in the vehicular sense) to want to ensure that their car will take them safely on their various continental jaunts. They have a Mazda 626 saloon, but with the mileage at about 130,000 it may potentially be edging into the expensive part of its life. They are wondering about a replacement which will possibly, in their words, "see us out". Their budget, including part-exchanging the old Mazda, is £12,000.
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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