Car Choice: Travel in style through a Highlands winter

Monica Satny is 64, and drives a convertible diesel Volkswagen Beetle, which she is looking to change soon. She wants an economical automatic car with style, which is easy to park, and with good rear visibility. As Monica's family already has a Honda CRV, she does not need anything too large. A leather interior, a diesel engine, and a sunroof would all help her make her decision. Her budget is a generous £30,000.

A car for the head

Because Monica lives in the Inverness area, she really does need a proper 4x4 with good ground clearance – crucial in difficult conditions. Style is another matter, and down to personal taste. Monica wants a small vehicle, which might suggest an Audi A3 Quattro. However, that has little in the way of ground clearance and I believe that it is best to look at some more conventional 4x4s. A Ford Kuga is worth considering. It is a handy-sized four-wheel drive, and the well-equipped 2.0 TDCi Titanium model would cost of £24,000. However, not everyone would think a Kuga that exclusive or stylish – more fool them. The same goes for the Skoda Yeti 2.0TDi with DSG automatic gearbox, and would cost just over £23,000. It's cute as a button and is more than able to deal with serious off-road issues. Well-built, fairly economical at 43mpg, it would be a faithful little car that is smaller than the Honda and, I would argue, much more stylish.

A car for the heart

I know that Monica has been considering the Mini Countryman, and that may well be the best option. A 2.0D Cooper SD automatic starts at just over £16,000, but will cost much more to uprate the specification. However, I would point Monica in another direction – the Nissan Juke, which really does look very different and stylish. But it is not available with an automatic gearbox. In that case, Monica should look at the Nissan Qashqai. It is vehicle that is classed as a crossover – part practical hatchback, with some off- road ability. Going on to Nissan's website, I quickly configured the perfect Qashqai for Monica. Although prices start at £16,495, I ticked the diesel and automatic boxes, which took the price to £27,095. This would be the Tekna model, which has a panoramic glass roof and leather upholstery. In addition, there is a full Nissan Connect system with sat nav and Bluetooth, a reversing camera, and heated front seats – which would be handy in Scotland this winter. It will return around 39mpg.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@inde, 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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