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One For The Road: Smaller car, same high seating


Orna Kustow is thinking of replacing her 2007 Renault Grand Scenic for a smaller car but does not want to lose the Scenic's high seating position. Could we suggest a super-mini or small family car?

A Car for the Head

To be significantly smaller than a Grand Scenic, Orna should aim for a car that is less than four metres long. If she has been happy with her Renault, perhaps she should stick with the same brand but downsize to the Modus, which is 379cm long. A very compact people carrier, it has a usefully high seating position, is good-looking and very practical. There is a longer Grand version, but Orna should find that the standard model is large enough. It is spacious enough for five, but is best adjusted to accommodate two in the back for comfort. There are several engine options, from 1.2 and 1.6 petrols to 1.5 diesels. Depending on the mix of motoring that Orna is going to cover, the 1.2 may be adequate and better value. Also, its standard "Expression" specification includes air-conditioning and remote locking. Prices start at £10,535 from new, but £1,700 buys a 2004 example.

A Car for the Heart

What Orna needs is a tall hatchback and that would be either the Suzuki Splash or Vauxhall Agila, which are actually one and the same vehicle. Compared to the Modus it isn't as clever, but the Splash/Agila is slightly shorter at 374cm. Orna should look closer into the specifications; the Splash has more safety equipment (it wins the airbag war with six rather than four) and better general equipment – for example, the basic GLS trim on the Splash includes air-con, whereas the Agila only gets it when trading up to the SE. Inside there is plenty of room. It's spacious but narrow, making it better for a couple of rear passengers rather than three. The boot isn't that big, but the rear seats fold flat. There is a range of small engines, which will all deliver more than 50mpg. Brand new that will cost £12,125, whereas a Splash SZ3 1.0 will be £9,495. As a used, a 2009 Agila 1.2 Design costs £6,000, while the harder-to-find 2010 Splash 1.0 GLS with 7,300 miles is also £6,000.