Gloria Johnson is looking to buy a replacement for her beloved automatic Rover Metro. She actually wants something just like it – small but powerful, nippy, easy to park, and surprisingly roomy. Ideally with power steering and air-con. It will be used for the daily station run, vet visits, grocery shopping, teenage ferrying, and several long motorway journeys each year on the university run. Gloria has £10,000 cash and wants to take advantage of the £2,000 scrappage scheme.


Gloria may love her Metro, but small cars have improved dramatically over the last decade and just about any model, from any manufacturer, would show up the old Rover as woefully sub-standard. The added complication is that Gloria needs an automatic gearbox, which is always a pricey option. However this is a case where the scrappage scheme should work to her advantage and she may even have some change left. The obvious hatchback choice has to be the Ford Fiesta. As Gloria wants a nippy and responsive car, this comes the closest with excellent handling combined with an accomplished suspension set-up, which absorbs all the worst that the UK road system can inflict on it. The 1.4 engine manages to combine a perkiness, which will match Gloria's old 1.4 Metro, with reasonable economy and gets near enough to 50mpg. A five door Style+ model with the £1,000 that the automatic gearbox will cost, runs out at £12,195, but I think that with not much persuasion a dealer would knock the £195 off, and anyway there are many brokers who would find a dealer who could better that. The specification includes air conditioning and power steering, plus safety features that would never have been dreamt of on the old Rover.


Even though there is a lot to dislike about the Rover Metro, it certainly has bags of character. A modern day equivalent might well be the Mini, but actually, the better value – and just as funky – Suzuki Swift is worth a go as a car for the heart. The Swift has the power that Gloria loves, it has nimble and responsive handling while the styling is bang up-to-date. The automatic gearbox comes with the responsive 1.5 engine and in GLX trim. This means air conditioning, keyless entry and start up, plus alloy wheels. Of course power steering has long been standard on most modern cars, so Gloria need not worry about that. Inside, Gloria will find plenty of room and it will easily take four adults on that uni run. The boot is a fair size, but not the biggest, although the rear seats will split 60/40 and fold forwards. Indeed the general fit, finish and quality of the Swift is impressive, so it will stand up to a fair degree of daily punishment. A Swift is great value and the 1.5GLX costs just £11,100 to put on the road which will mean that under the scrappage scheme Gloria will make a decent saving and have money to spare within her budget, which is always good news.


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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