Car Choice: Sheila has a bee in her bonnet about space

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Sheila Borwick has just retired and has become very interested in beekeeping. As a consequence she would now like to buy a vehicle, which could accommodate all her bee kit. Sheila has three apiary sites, and gets called out regularly during the season to collect rogue swarms. Sheila does not expect to cover a huge mileage and believes that a diesel, van-based people carrier could be the answer. She is, though, open to all sorts of suggestions and has a budget of around £6,000.

A car for the head

So which vehicle – every pun intended – should Sheila make a beeline for? Well this is not about seats, as her priority is to have the maximum amount of space for the hives and all the associated equipment. The obvious choices are the Citroë*Berlingo, Peugeot Partner or Renault Kangoo. The Fiat Doblo is also an equally spacious proposition. All of those models make perfect sense, as with the rear seats folded or removed the load area is absolutely huge. However, without going too far down the van route Sheila could go for a more conventional and great value people carrier in the shape of the Citroë*Xsara Picasso. This is more of an egg shaped vehicle with a very big boot. The rear seats can be folded and tipped, and unlike similar compact people carriers they are light enough to be removed relatively easily. Most models come with a Modubox. This is a folding trolley that clips to the side of the boot and could prove useful for shifting hives. For £6,000 Sheila can get a 2006 1.6 HDI Exclusive model with around 40,000 miles which is great value for money and will return a creditable 57.6mpg overall.

A car for the heart

As Sheila tells me her mileage won't be huge, I don't think that a diesel engine is absolutely essential. That means she can consider an excitingly different MPV called a Skoda Roomster (below). At the very least, Sheila will have a spacious vehicle with flexible seating and a suitably huge boot. Good value new, it is now becoming more affordable used. Within Sheila's budget, it is the 1.2 and 1.4 petrol models which will be the easiest to find, and perhaps the larger engine would be better for when there is beekeeping stuff to be shifted. Overall it will return 40mpg and while it may not be the most powerful or refined engine, it will certainly be more than adequate. In the rear there are two full-sized seats with a slimmer one in between. Sheila may be best removing the smaller one as the two outer ones can be slid forward, freeing up more space in what is a pleasingly square and flat boot area. A 2006 1.4 model with 30,000 miles will cost £5,995 from a dealer. Hopefully Sheila will like the Roomster's very individual exterior styling, while inside it is all very reassuring, with a clear dashboard and controls. The Roomster should give her a real buzz. Sorry couldn't resist that.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF 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.

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