What Car Q&A May 2009 - What car should I buy?

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What Car Q&A
What Car Q&A
I commute a total of 960 miles a week and want to buy a small, low tax, diesel-powered car.

I've been looking at the Smart Fortwo diesel, or possibly a Ford Ka 1.3 TDCi, mainly because of the promise of high mpg. However, with an average yearly mileage just shy of 50k, I'm a bit worried these cars won't last three years.

At the moment I own a diesel Mondeo that qualifies for the scrappage allowance, so I'm only looking at brand new cars that costs less than £10k (I have £8k to spend).

What do you think - will either the Smart or Ka be suitable for my needs? Any other ideas?
Paul Edwards

The Smart Fortwo, in particular, isn't suited to long distances and high-mileage driving. Yes, it's officially the most economical car currently on sale, but it is only really suited to city driving. As well as a very weedy 45bhp engine, the Smart is poorly refined and short on safety kit. The ride is very bouncy, too.

The Ka is a better bet, although it doesn't ride particularly well, either, and it's pricey for what it is.

Its big brother, the Fiesta, isn't much more expensive, but is a much better and more refined car. The entry-level 1.4 TDCi Studio costs £11,595, but some shrewd haggling should bring the price down to around £10,300. That's before your scrappage allowance.

The Hyundai i20 is another option. It's cheaper than the Fiesta, and the 1.4D 74 Comfort is better equipped. It also comes with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Push for a price of £8239.

What Car Q&A May 2009 - Baffled by road tax


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