Paul Bates and his wife are moving to the countryside and need a small, automatic 4x4 to negotiate a steep farm track to their home. Budget is £5,000.
A Car for the Head
I know Paul wants to contain costs as this is a vehicle to be used mainly for local errands. I like the Daihatsu Terios. Here is a small, not very thirsty and very reliable pocket-sized 4x4. Because if you do have a mildly muddy track to deal with every day, or are nervy about ice and stuff, as a high-rise four-wheel-drive hatchback, it does a job. The good news is that the Terios should cost no more to run than the Charade (a small hatchback) on which it is based. Fuel consumption is around 34mpg, the insurance group is low, and they probably won't find an off-roader that is cheaper to run, or to buy. Their budget buys a 2004 1.3 Sport with 40,000 miles and a warranty from a dealer.
A Car for the Heart
When it comes to finding the top tiny 4x4s, the Suzuki Jimny remains one of the obvious and most logical choices. It is essentially a micro Jeep that's very cute and surprisingly brilliant off-road. On road, it is more than a bit bouncy and it does look a bit daft to some, but it is certainly fun. If, like Paul, you genuinely needed a bit of off-road ability to tackle a muddy lane or bump across the odd field, it's brilliant. Low and high ratio gearboxes and its light weight mean it can deal with just about anything you can chuck at it. It isn't that big inside and unlike the four-door Terios is effectively a two-seater, but it will return around 34mpg, and a tidy 2005 1.3 JLX automatic with around 50,000 miles is just less than £5,000.
Looking to buy?
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.