Ronnie Wilson is a pensioner and sadly, due to illness, his wife can no longer drive. They currently have a 2005 Honda Jazz, which has been an excellent little car for them, but now they want something more comfortable for long trips. The main criterion is that the car allows the passenger seat to be raised, to give Ronnie’s wife better vision. Economy and easy maintenance are a priority, and their budget – including trading in the Jazz – is around £10,000.

A car for the head

Honda doesn’t make a car that fits Ronnie’s requirements, but he will be used to the excellent levels of reliability that Japanese cars routinely offer. That’s why I would recommend a Nissan Qashqai.

This is a strange breed of vehicle, which offers an increased ride height, and off-roader looks – but without the complication and expense of four-wheel drive. This vehicle is also a compact size, and as Ronnie and his wife are downsizing to just one car, this would be large enough for them, and still have a decent sized boot. What the Qashqai does best is offer a commanding view, which easily fulfills the most important part of their requirement. To match the fuel consumption of their Jazz they would need to aim for a used 1.5 DCi model, which returns just over 50mpg. Otherwise the 1.6 model will return a respectable 42mpg. All examples have air conditioning and electric windows. To get within the £10K budget the diesel may be £900 too expensive at the moment. A 2007 1.6, with the balance of manufacturer warranty from a dealer, will just sneak in.

A car for the heart

Another unusual car, or rather vehicle, springs to mind when thinking about Ronnie’s requirements. The Seat Altea (pictured) is described by the manufacturer as an MSV, which stands for a Multi Sports Vehicle, whatever that is. Actually it amounts to a taller-than-average hatchback, which should mean that the view out for Ronnie and his wife should be better.

Being based on the Volkswagen Golf means that it is a relaxing and comfortable car to drive. There would be little point in Ronnie opting for a Sport version, which would be too firm, or the larger XL version, which really isn’t necessary. For longer journeys the 1.9TDi may be better and it would return 52 mpg. Even so, the smaller 1.6 is fine if the vehicle is not overloaded and that will make around 36mpg overall, so perhaps the diesel would be the better buy. The lowest specification Essence models are a bit basic by modern standards, but the Stylance has dual zone climate control and cruise control to make long distances less stressful. A 2007 1.9D Stylance, from a dealer with a modest 16,000 mileage, would be around £9,700. This would be a one-owner car, in first-class condition, and I do think that Ronnie should take one for a drive to see if he likes it.

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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