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One For The Road: A smaller car that offers a pillar of support


Jill Davies needs to replace a Vauxhall Zafira, bought when her children were at home. She wants a smaller car with good back support. She has £8,000 to spend.

A Car for the Head

To be even more specific, Jill does not want a flashy car, nor a car that is too "nippy" or light. She just wants a vehicle that is comfortable, safe, and a more sedate drive, which she will enjoy and care for. First off, then, we should concentrate on the seating position and clearly a raised one like Jill's old Zafira would be perfect. Now, reliability is also an issue – and the reason I would recommend the high-rise supermini that is the Honda Jazz. Jill would sit in a raised position, good for access. The seats have been judged previously as some of the most comfortable out there. Being a Honda means it has an excellent reliability record and the 1.2 petrol engine will return 50mpg. Jill's budget will buy a 2010 model with 12,000 miles on the clock from a Honda dealer.

A Car for the Heart

Jill loved her Zafira, so in theory she should also adore Vauxhall's smaller-scale Meriva. There was a new model in 2010 and Jill should be able to afford a 1.4 direct from a Vauxhall dealer. It is longer than the old model, so there is no shortage of legroom or luggage space, for that matter. The really interesting thing about the new Meriva is that the rear doors are hinged differently, so that the front and rear doors meet in the middle. It is better for access, but Jill should be happy enough with the driving position, which is suitably high. There are lots of specification levels starting with the Expression and S, and Jill should go for the Excusiv, which at least has air conditioning. For £8,000, Jill will be able to afford a 2010 1.4 with just over 12,000 miles.

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.