Q: My wife has just applied for a Motability grant. Can you recommend some small, economical automatic cars with low carbon dioxide emissions and low insurance that cost less than 10,000? Speed is not a priority, and we only do around 5000 miles a year.
A: With a budget of 10,000, most suitable cars will be semi-automatics. This type of gearbox can be used in exactly the same way as a conventional automatic, but might take a while to get used to, because the changes are often jerky.
On the positive side, semi-autos don't harm fuel economy like many full automatics, and CO2 output is also usually lower. That means you might save a bit on car tax.
We recommend trying the new Fiat 500 1.2 Pop Dualogic. It costs 8930 and should do 55.4mpg. You'll only have to pay 35 a year for tax, too, and insurance costs should be low.
If you don't get on well with the 500's gearbox, try the Nissan Micra 1.2 Acenta Auto. It's not as good a car as the 500, but the conventional automatic gearbox is smoother.
It's a bit more expensive than the Fiat at 9795, and fuel economy isn't nearly as good at 42.8mpg. You'll have to fork out 140 a year in car tax, too, because of the Nissan's higher CO2 emissions. However, you might think that's a price worth paying for a smoother drive.