Camay Winfield is after a small estate or something equally spacious because she spends a lot of time out in the wild, camping with her grandchildren. She has a 2007 Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 SXi. Assuming she gets up to £6,000 for the Corsa, her budget is £7,000. The one complication is that she can't have a car any wider than the Corsa because her driveway is so narrow, with clearance in places of just six inches either side of the mirrors.

A car for the head

First of all, in some of the places where I've lived, six inches either side of the mirrors would have been luxury, but I can understand Camay's concern. All drivers should take into account how their cars are to be used and the size of the parking or garage space. With that in mind, then, the vehicle can be no more than 1.737m, which isn't too bad. On that basis I would say that the obvious choice would be the Vauxhall Meriva (1.694m). This also gives Camay the chance to part-exchange the Corsa at a Vauxhall dealership as part of the company's approved used Network Q scheme. This model is effectively a small multi-purpose vehicle version of the Corsa, so it is big on space and flexibility, which should be just what Camay needs. The three rear seats can be moved individually backwards and forwards, plus the outer two can be slid from side to side to boost shoulder room. The really clever bit is that the seats can be folded into the floor to create even more luggage room. The 1.4 engine would be adequate, although whether a 1.7 CDTi would be in budget is open to question. Certainly £7,000, at the current going rate, would buy a 2007/8 1.4 Life model with up to 20,000 miles on the clock.

A car for the heart

If Camay likes her Corsa even a little, then I do think that the Meriva would be the one she would love. However, there are other similar little MPVs out there which are narrow enough for her drive. The Nissan Note (1.690 m) is an equally spacious small car, inset below, that should be able to deal with grandchildren and their tents. However, the rear seats are not quite as flexible as the Meriva's. Instead, the rear bench seat will slide forward and back to increase either passenger or load space. Indeed, the boot is not too bad, although, as with all small cars, it is always worth considering a roof-top box. It is a friendly little car, which is easy to own and drive, and the 1.4 engine can cope with most conditions. The diesel 1.5dCi would make Camay's mileage more economical at 55mpg. Again the budget may be an issue. The Acenta specification (with air con as standard) would make for much more comfy journeys when the weather is extreme. A 2008 1.4 Acenta with around 13,000 miles will cost £7,000 from a dealership.

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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