Dennis Davis is seeking a replacement for a T reg Corsa automatic and has been looking at the Daihatsu Charade and Sirion, Toyota Aygo and Yaris, and the Mazda2. His wife is not interested in luxuries like electric windows, but accepts that they will be fitted anyway. Apparently the Hyundai Getz & Picanto are out since neither local dealers can offer a test drive. He would like to be as "green" as possible and although the Corsa has been reliable, Dennis's local dealers are hopeless he reckons.

First of all I am disappointed to hear that Dennis's local dealers are so hopeless. I think it is inexcusable for a Hyundai dealer to refuse a test drive. I can't see how they can remain in business with that attitude. If a dealer does not have a particular model on their demonstrator fleet all they have to do is phone head office and arrange for one to be delivered.

I suggest Dennis speak to Hyundai customer service, he should not have to of course, but that is one way of sampling a Getz or Picanto.

When it comes to his Corsa, again a reliable and efficient car will not be replaced by the latest model because Dennis feels the dealer has let him down. That's sad but understandable. Small and efficient city cars and small hatches are not exactly thin on the ground these days but Dennis needs to decide what his definition of "green" is. Does he want fuel efficiency or low emissions or both? Certainly the majority of small vehicles available should fall into these categories. Real back to basics cars with few options though don't really exist although there is the Perodua.

A CAR FOR THE HEAD

Spending the minimal amount on a car ought to put the Perodua Kelisa in the frame. Yes it does have electric front windows as standard and not a great deal else, but at £4,795 you can't complain about the price. It is also quite fun to drive around town and returns over 55 miles to the gallon. However I see that as Dennis wants a like-for-like he would probably prefer an automatic and the Kelixa Ezi auto is £6,500.

After his recent experiences with the motor trade I think he should check the location and affability of Perodua dealers by logging onto www.perodua-uk.com. I think that for value and safety equipment the Daihatsu Sirion would be safer. It looks good, has plenty of room inside, especially compared to its rivals, and manages 48.7 mpg with the 1.3 engine and a whopping 56.5 mpg with the 1.0 litre engine.

However the automatic engine is only available with the larger engine and it would cost just over £9,000. With that, though, is air conditioning, side air bags, abs brakes and rear electric windows - which aren't on the Perodua, but are pretty much essential these days on a modern car.

A CAR FOR THE HEART

If a Kia Picanto is out of the frame for Dennis, and it is sensational value for money, the very best of the small loveable hatchbacks continues to be the Fiat Panda, although Dennis might like to consider the all new and very good-looking Punto Grande. At the time of writing though there are no firm prices for this car although Dennis can be sure of getting a good discount from Fiat dealer and brokers.

If he is willing to consider the now obsolete model there are even better deals. A 1.2 Active with an automatic gearbox is just over £8,000 and potentially Dennis could get over £1,000 off, but now it is a question of availability. Whether he minds having an old model or not is another consideration.

The Fiat Panda is such a great and loveable small car that it is hard to resist and it is possible to get one with an automatic gearbox, which costs an extra £700. The Dynamic 1.2 will cost just under £800, but expect to get at least £400 to £600 off without trying too hard. Electric windows are fitted to the front but more importantly ABS brakes are part of the package too.

CAR CHOICE Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail James Ruppert at carchoice@independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and contact number, and details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested.

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