Not if you've got £6,000 to spend on a family car with room for a mountain bike in the back

Vince Yearley wants a large enough car for his wife to drive their three children, plus good fuel economy and room for his mountain bike to avoid parking fees. As a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, it has to be a five-star Euro NCAP, He can spend up to £6,000.

Vince is aware that he will have to go down the used-car route and even admits to being a fan of Bangernomics (buying an older model that will be cheaper to run and won't suffer the effects of depreciation). Well, he will have to be at least on nodding terms with the Bangernomics concept because a car within that budget which will return 40mpg is likely to be a diesel which means the mileage is going to be on the higher side, possibly up to 100,000 miles. The good news is that most cars built in the past few years with proper servicing will be able to take that sort of mileage in its stride.

A car for the head
By insisting on a five-star Euro NCAP rating he misses out on the four-star old shape Ford Mondeo. These are sensational value now and are extremely affordable. If we can find a 2.0TDCi version it will return 47.1mpg. In size terms you get a lot of car for your money as there is plenty of space inside the estate version with a load area that is long and wide. Even better, it will seat five adults in some degree of comfort. I found several at £6,000 at car dealers and supermarkets that had covered 60-80,000 miles, some as recent as 2004. Alternatively there is the Renault Laguna estate, which also has a five-star rating. An estate model is not as spacious as the Ford, nor as reliable, but they are also good value now. A 2004 1.9 DCi that will return 47.1mpg will be within the £6,000 budget.

A car for the heart
As an advanced driver I know that Vince would find the Mondeo as satisfying as more expensive cars and most cases it will be much better. With the five-star rating in mind there is only one estate car that I could recommend and that's a Saab 9-5 diesel. The 1.9 TiD just about manages to crack 40mpg, while the 2.2TiD achieves 42.8mpg. Of course being a Saab, it is very, very safe with later models having stability control and four airbags. What Vince will also get with a Saab 9-5 is refinement. On a long journey there really isn't any car that's better at soaking up the miles, plus there should be room for a bike in the rear, although I always believe that bike racks make more sense.

Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, 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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