Paul Bunting is 63 and thinking ahead to 2012, when he will have saved £25,000 to replace his 1995 Ford Escort. Ideally he wants a long saloon with a flat floor. He rightly observes that low seats make it a problem for the elderly and disabled to get in and out. Paul hates the clutter between the front seats and would like to be able to get out of either side of the car, useful when parked next to a hedge or wall.
A car for the head
In his head, Paul knows that that probably the only car that fits his detailed description is a Rolls-Royce Phantom. He also wants an automatic gearbox, power steering, and air conditioning. The car will need to be happy going to the shops, or chasing up the motorway to Paul's haunts in Wales and Northumberland. Oh yes, and he doesn't want – in his own words – a "bus or 4x4". A compromise is therefore required. Certainly, when it comes to ease of access, an uncluttered front footwell, plus an automatic gearbox, we come back to a vehicle we have mentioned recently, the Honda FR-V. Here is a compact people carrier designed with three front seats, with a clear passage in and out from either door. The FR-V is no longer a current model, so Paul does not need £25,000, as £18,000 will buy a 2009 example from a Honda dealer with less than 10,000 miles on the clock.
A car for the heart
Well that would be the Rolls-Royce then, except that it is not going to be that affordable, or even that practical. I do think that when it comes to a flat floor and high seating positing the only answer would be a 4x4. Unfortunately, in the way will be a large transmission tunnel. That then brings us back to vans, or rather people carriers. There is a very stylish model built by Mitsubishi and badged as the Grandis. Here is a large and comfortable vehicle, which answers at least one of Paul's requirements by offering a high driving position and easy access. At least moving the front seats back would mean less bother in getting out via the opposite door. It isn't perfect but it is better than the majority of other vehicles on sale. There are petrol and diesel engines available, and both are smooth and reasonably quick. Looking at the classified ads, a 2008 2.4 Equippe with just 15,000 miles on the clock can be bought from a main dealer for £16,995.
Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, 'Independent on Sunday', 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.