Car Choice: 'We need a comfortable car for my poorly wife'

John Constable needs a car to accommodate his wife who suffers from spinal trouble and very bad problems with her knees. He wants to buy a new car with automatic drive, power steering, high seats and easy entry and loading.
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As ever it is going to be a question of trial and error and sitting in as many cars as John and his wife can bear to find out exactly the car that is most suitable. I agree that high seating position needs to be a priority and there should be plenty of room for his wife's Zimmer frame, plus all the other bits of luggage and shopping that we have to squeeze in these days.

The obvious choice is a small people carrier. John does not mention whether they need to carry any other passengers but it is safe to assume that they probably will. The question is, though, whether to go for a micro or compact people carrier as they seem to come in all sorts of sizes. I would not want to restrict John and his wife in any way, so something in the medium sector would probably be best.

A CAR FOR THE HEAD

The Toyota Yaris Verso is an odd looker, but there is no shortage of space. The front seating position is pleasingly upright, which means good visibility for the driver and passenger.

There is plenty of room for oddments in the cabin and at the back there is a wide, square boot which is easy to load. However, the rear door is side hinged which does not suit everyone because sometimes John will need to be mindful of where he is parking so that it can be opened fully. When John needs more room the rear seats split and fold flat. These seats are light to move and so getting a Zimmer frame in should not be a problem.

Air conditioning is not available on the basic model and comes with £11,945 T Spirit. The 1.3 petrol engine should be fine because it is economical returning 44 mpg and is lively enough. Being a Toyota Yaris it will be very reliable and the running costs are reasonable, so this Verso is a no-brainer buy.

A CAR FOR THE HEART

As a budget characterful buy it has to be the Renault Kangoo which has bags of space, sliding rear doors and reasonably supportive front seats. Prices start at under £10,000 too, but it might be too basic and not that comfortable or refined on the move.

Better, then, to go for the more focused Renault Scenic. The front seats are set very high and that's without adjustment which could suit John's wife perfectly. It may be classed as compact, but the Scenic is still pretty big. Take a look in the boot which even without folding the rear seats is massive.

It isn't the cheapest smallish people mover; for value and ability the Citroen Xsara Picasso is probably the best option, but the Scenic is more refined and civilised.

Inside the Scenic is always a nice place to be and it feels like a high quality product. However, the entry level 1.4 Authentique model does not have air conditioning, which costs £500 extra. Never mind, because it is possible to get discounts on the Scenic and decent fuel economy, around 38mpg and low insurance group four, means that running costs are low.

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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