One For The Road: A replacement for a broken-down Mondeo


Valerie Checkers paid £800 for a Ford Mondeo, which has gone badly wrong. She needs to replace it with something cheap but reliable and has £500 to spare.

A Car for the Head

First of all I have been in contact with Valerie about her old Mondeo, which was bought from a dealer, so legally she can return the car, as it was sold with undisclosed faults. With that in mind, I will expect her budget to be back up to £800. As much as I like the Mondeo, I won't recommend another, as Valerie's recent experience has been so painful. In which case, the Vauxhall Vectra is the most obvious alternative. Not as much fun to drive but certainly as practical and just as cheap to run, with plentiful parts and straightforward servicing. £800 will buy a 2001 1.8 model in LS trim with less than 100,000 miles. It will have air conditioning, CD player and an immobiliser. There are some good private examples around and Valerie should target a cared-for example.

A Car for the Heart

As Valerie needs a car that is reliable, good value and won't let her down, the Toyota Avensis is worth a closer look. Never the most exciting model, but they have always been spacious, safe and fairly refined. Running costs are reasonable, plus it is well-equipped, practical and has plenty of safety features. The interior is one of the biggest around, with plenty of cubby holes and storage options. It easily takes four to five adults without any of them feeling the pinch. The Avensis will look after them, too, performing excellently in crash tests and having a large number of safety features as standard. Drivers have a comfortable seat and easily adjustable position. A 2001 1.8 VVTi GS with around 100,000 miles will go for £800; it might even have an old SatNav as standard. So it's great value.

Looking to buy?

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