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If your name is Gary or Deborah chances are you live in a house, drive a Citroen Picasso and are in the 45 to 54 age group

Car Choice: Good things really do come in small packages

Alison Thompson is currently driving a Fiat Seicento, which she bought almost seven years ago on entering retirement. She reckons it won't see her out, and she has up to £5,000 to spend on a replacement. Ideally, Alison wants a very small car, and does not wish to pay more than £35 per annum road tax. She hates irritating gadgets so it must be basic. She also lives in a rural area so it must be able to cope with muddy roads just as well as more urban environments.

Lucrative corporate members tempt City Car Club to buy rival WhizzGo

Pay-as-you-go City Car Club has bought rival WhizzGo for a six-figure sum to become the UK's biggest with a network in 15 cities, 16,000 members and 500 cars.

Car Choice: The first-car conundrum: Budget too low, insurance too high

Andrew Bowler hopes that his daughter will pass her test soon and will be looking for a small, economic and reliable car. Andrew reckons that it will be used mainly for short trips, with occasional motorway use, and the estimated annual mileage should be around 10,000. With a budget of £1,000 and a high insurance premium, Andrew thinks that only 1-litre cars are going to be affordable, although the problem in his eyes is that the mileage on the clock will be too high.

Ford Ka reaches half a million

British customers have bought 500,000 of Ford's smallest car since it first went on sale in 1996. The total includes 11,000 of the second-generation version which has been on the market since January this year. The new model is, perhaps, less distinctive than the original - it looks a bit like a scaled down Fiesta, especially from the front - but has maintained a strong position in the market; Ford claims that it is still the leader in the small car segment with a share of 14 per cent.

The 10 best hot hatchbacks

Sports cars and coupés might be what every keen driver secretly yearns for but when the reality of day-to-day life hits home many will choose a hot hatchback instead. Combining the practicality of the family cars on which they are based with strong performance and sharp handling it is easy to see the appeal. There has never been a wider range of hot hatchbacks on sale from frantic city cars to 300bhp, rally inspired models. Here are ten of the best.

The 10 best: city cars

Cars and cities don’t mix well but if a bicycle or Oyster card doesn't work for you, several manufacturers offer a choice of cheeky, nippy motors that will at least make all that time spent traffic jamming vaguely tolerable; here are ten of the best. They‘re all good for the occasional out-of-town journey and you may even turn a few heads as well.

Hydrogen-powered car makes debut

A new lightweight hydrogen-powered car, capable of speeds up to 50mph, was shown off in London today.

Small cars come out top in new scrappage scheme

Motorists keen to take advantage of the car scrappage scheme launched last week must stick to small cars if they want to feel the benefit, consumer watchdog Which? has warned.

Suzuki Alto

Price: £6,795
Top speed: 96 mph 0-60mph 13.5 seconds
Consumption: 64.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 103g/km
Best for:
tight budgets
Also worth considering? Citroën C1; Fiat Panda; Kia Picanto

Smart meter revolution will cut energy cost

Every household in Britain should by 2020 be able to cut its energy bills and carbon footprint using "smart meters" and handheld devices to control energy use closely, the government said today.

You don't have to go small to go far in the city streets

Marion Charles is a first-time car buyer. She needs a super-mini or a small hatchback for herself and husband Robert. They will use it mainly for city driving and the occasional country trip. She wants something that needs little maintenance, is comfortable to drive, and has a petrol engine. She has £2,000 to spend.

Ditch your own car – and share

Owning and running a car is one of the biggest annual expenses for most families in Britain. If you add up the cost per year of insurance, road tax, parking permits and a service, you'll be lucky to have any change back from £1,000. Then there's the petrol, which even after the recent falls in the oil price is much more expensive than most other countries in the world, and the depreciation on the value of your vehicle. These two costs alone can run into many thousands of pounds depending on how much you use your car, and what sort of vehicle you have.

Car Choice: Get sporty with a Swift. Go-faster stripes are optional

Derek Wagoner has a Fiat Panda 1.3 sporting diesel which he reckons is a great car because it is very cheap to own and run, plus, he adds, "It has white stripes!" However, as it is now three years old Derek wants a change, but what he most wants is the lowest £35 tax band, which returns 55mpg and yet is still sporty.

Car Choice: In today's climate, shopping around will pay you dividends

Paul Backhouse is 47 and looking to buy something quite soon for cash with no trade-in. Paul will probably have up to £7,000 to spend and is interested in manufacturer deals on small hatchbacks like the Citroën C1 Vibe. However, Paul will also buy a bigger car if the price is right, so he really is after the best bargains.

Car Choice: Ditch the gas guzzler for a smart little city runabout

Graeme King wants a small car for commuting while his BMW 330Ci rests in the garage. He wants a small diesel because cheap running costs are the most important thing. I know the 1.4 TDCi in Ford Fiestas qualifies for £35 road tax and Graeme asked at a local Ford dealer about the Options finance package, but they cost about £13,000 which he thought was too much.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?