Practical and affordable: The Kia Picanto is well equipped and has one of the lowest ownership packages around


Dan Neale needs a tiny automatic which will mostly be used to take his daughter to nursery, then for a 10-mile drive to work. His budget is £2,000.

A Car for the Head

The obvious choice is the two-seat Smart, a car Dan has considered. More conventional four-door hatches might be more practical options, just in case Dan need the extra room. The Daihatsu Sirion is no longer imported and is an overlooked small car which has plenty of equipment, is reliable and, best of all, very cheap to run. Around town, where it will be used most, the suspension is soft and soaks up the bumps, while the really light steering means that parking is a doddle. The Sirion won't cost you much to run, as insurance and servicing is cheap. Also, if you go for the smallest 1.0 engine it will do 56.5mpg, while even the 1.3 makes it to 48.7mpg. The budget will buy a 2003 or 2004 automatic with either engine and around 40,000 miles.

A Car for the Heart

At the top end of Dan's budget would be a Kia Picanto bought privately. It is well equipped, the entry-level spec giving Dan power steering and a CD player, and has one of the lowest ownership packages around, as the average fuel consumption is around 55mpg and the insurance groupings are just 2 and 3. On the practical side, this is a small car but a proper four-door one with wide openings, meaning access is easy. This is a car built to a low price that is practical and affordable and there is nothing wrong with that. Dan may even fall in love with its pig-nosed snout. He should be able to find a 2004 1.1 LX model with an auto gearbox which has covered 50,000 miles for around £2,000.

Looking to buy?

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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