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One For The Road: A reliable upgrade on a nine-year-old Golf


Mike Cole currently owns a nine-year old Golf Mark 4 TDI and drives 8,000 miles a year. He'd like to upgrade to a newer model and has £6,000 to £7,000 to spend.

A Car for the Head

Mike made it clear to me that he would take an alternative though similar model to the Golfprovided it was reliable and similar to drive. When anyone mentions reliability, for me it has to be a car from the Far East, or at least with a Far Eastern badge. And as Mike specified something good to drive, I'd recommend a Mazda 3. It's a great hatchback, spacious and comfortable, and the 1.6 engine is both eager and very economical, returning around 39mpg. The TS specification adds air-conditioning to the basic kit of central locking, electric front windows and heated electric-door mirrors. It's a well-equipped model and within that budget Mike will be able to get a great-value 2007 model with a modest 23,000 miles from a dealer.

A Car for the Heart

Mike wants a Mark 5 Golf, which was a big improvement over the model he has. It is much better to drive and more refined, too. The cabin is spacious with plenty of head and legroom. For the driver, there is plenty of adjustment to the seat and anyone in the back will find more room than ever in a Golf, so it is a proper family car – especially as the boot is big and if need be, the rear seats will split 60:40. Also, compared with old Golfs it is surprisingly well equipped, as every model now has electric front windows and mirrors, with a CD player and remote central locking. The 1.6 FSI is a good engine which is not just lively but economical, too, and should return more than 40mpg. Mike's budget gets a 2005 example with 40,000 miles from private and trade sellers.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at onefortheroad @independent.co.uk, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.