Car Choice: Wanted: A little town car that will keep the bills down


Rosalind Nolan needs to replace a 2002 reg Audi A4 1.8T Sport petrol car which has only done 74,000 miles but only gives 27-30 mpg.

Most of Rosalind's driving is in town, and as she and her husband are now pensioners they only have a fixed income. As a result, running costs are a serious issue and they need reliability, good mileage rates and cheaper tax and insurance. So, driving thrills and gadgets are not needed. Rosalind will consider any car that it is easy to drive and park, but her husband wants another Audi.

A car for the head

These days there are plenty of small, multi-mpg, town-centre assault vehicles competing for buyers and it is difficult to know where to start. Well, I would start and stop at the Toyota brand in general and the iQ in particular. It is one of the cleverest small cars around and, although pricey, great for just two people. There is room for one more and even a plus-one, at which point all the boot space disappears. I do feel that, in practical terms, most of us will at some time need to bring a few extra people on board for a lift, and at that point you would want a genuine four-seater and, crucially, four doors. For that reason I would rather go with the Toyota Aygo, which is also badged as a Citroë* C1 and a Peugeot 107. However, as Rosalind wants minimal outlay, the iQ scores because its tiny 1.0 litre engine is zero-rated for road tax, producing just 99g of CO2/km. Add to that the 65.7mpg, which should never fall below 60mpg – especially in Milton Keynes where Rosalind lives – and suddenly the iQ has to be the winner. Prices start at just over £10,000, but it couldn't be easier to park, which will also please Rosalind.

A car for the heart

I suppose that should be an Audi, and, indeed, there is a brand new one that the Nolans could buy – the A1 (pictured), a prestigious three-door city car. The 1.2TSI engine will return 55mpg and for regular short journeys I would always recommend that a petrol engine would be the very best option. Prices start at £13,145 and, of course, Rosalind could part-exchange her old Audi for a new one. Then there is the A2, which was a massively underrated small Audi from the middle part of the last decade. With its lightweight body, the 1.4l petrol engine should return at least 45mpg. It is a four-seater with a large boot, making it very practical. If it's all about running costs, the A2 may not be the answer as it is a posh premium hatchback, so servicing and parts are above average. Anyhow, to buy one can cost less than £2,000, but just over £4,000 means an immaculate 1.4 with a low-50,000 mileage.

Looking to buy?

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