Liz Smith currently runs a Peugeot 308 and a Mini Cooper convertible, but the 308 is due to be replaced. She needs a vehicle that will accommodate her husband and two slightly pre-teenage boys. It will be used mainly on local roads, and must be able to cope with icy Devon lanes. Mr Smith is green minded and not keen on a 4x4. Their budget is £12,000 to £15,000.
A car for the head
We have mentioned winter tyres here before. Putting them on a front-wheel-drive car will make a big difference to how that car copes with ice and snow. Liz really should put several hundred pounds aside for a back-up set of winter tyres. As for the car to fit them on, the Smiths don't need anything bigger than a 308, so a Toyota Auris will be more than adequate. This may not be the most exciting choice, but it does offer plenty of practicality and reliability. The smallest 1.3 engine ought to be fine for the local journeys, and return a decent 48mpg overall, thanks, in part, to the stop-start technology. In basic TR trim Liz will get air conditioning and electric front windows. She could buy a brand new Auris within her budget, or possibly a nearly new example, registered in 2010, with a low mileage.
A car for the heart
There are so many great cars in this class. Certainly a Ford Focus is an excellent prospect, and Kias have come on in leaps and bounds in the past few years. There is a Kia that is different enough to grab plenty of attention and that is the Soul, inset left. It's a mini people carrier; stubby and square, but very practical, and Liz's sons will fit easily in the back. The Soul 1 specification is generous, with all-round electric windows, air conditioning and MP3 socket. It comes with either a 1.6 petrol or diesel engine, but as Liz covers low mileage, I think petrol would be best – diesels can encounter problems if sparsely used. Liz will still get around 43mpg, though. The Soul costs just over £11,000, brand new. But the model is only a year old, so it is possible to save a bit more. A 2010 1.6 Soul 1, with 6,000 miles on the clock, can be bought for just £7,995 – well worth a thought.
Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, or email James Ruppert at email@example.com, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.