Oh, the Vauxhall Astra Estate. If ever there was a car that was born to be good value, this is it. It was heavily discounted when new, and a used one represents even better value after depreciation has worked its magic. Rugged mechanicals provide solid reliability, while sombre yet durable interiors withstand wear and tear well. The 1.7 diesel isn't particularly fast but doesn’t go through fuel quickly, either. And the Astra Estate has surprisingly tidy handling, so make sure you tightly strap down whatever you have placed into its practical boot.
We found: 2007 Vauxhall Astra Estate 1.7 CDTi SXi, 91,000 miles, £2000
Three is a magic number, and indeed it must be some kind of sorcery that enables you to buy a BMW 3 Series Touring for less than £2000. And for that, you won’t get a complete shed, because all cars come with a generous amount of equipment and there are plenty of clean examples out there for sale. The diesels might be a bit too leggy now, so look for a four-cylinder petrol. They are just as well made as their more sonorous six-cylinder relatives but do more miles to the gallon and are cheaper to service. It may not be the largest of estates, but it does have lots of class to make up for it, and your neighbours probably won’t know how little you paid for it.
We found: 2005 BMW 3 Series Touring 318i SE, 64,600 miles, £1995
The Golf is probably the only car the world really needs, except this one has a bigger boot grafted onto it. All Mk4 Golfs have pleasant, premium touches to the interior, which set them apart from rivals with plastics not dissimilar to the ones used for the boxes your Friday night takeaway comes in. The 1.9-litre diesel engine is capable of huge mileages if given regular services, so if you find a Golf Estate with a full service history, it should last a very long time.
We found: 2005 Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.9 TDI S, 91,000 miles, £1985
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