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Tuesday, June 14

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Insignia missing from listings
I've noticed that the Vauxhall Insignia hatchback listings were missing from the back of your latest magazine.
Chris

What Car? Hi Chris apologies for the apparent absence of the Insignia hatchback in the latest issue. It is, however, there. Technical issues meant the heading was not printed, but the details were find the full listing on page 247. The correct version with heading will be in the August issue of the magazine, which goes on sale on July 1. You can also browse our Insignia webtest here. This will have our most up-to-date figures for each version available.

A comfortable cruiser for less than 18,000?
Hello What Car?. Please could you tell me which of the following cars you would recommend as the best sub-18k, comfortable, economical motorway car: BMW 3 Series, Ford Mondeo, VW Golf, or VW Passat CC?
Anon

What Car? All of the cars you mention are fine cruisers. All four are economical, too provided you choose a diesel model. They all have a comfortable ride, although the BMW is on the firm side, especially if you choose a version with run-flat tyres.

For less than 18,000, youll be looking at a used example. Our recommendation would be the VW Golf, as a 1.6 TDI. Itll be the most economical of the bunch and because it costs less new, youll be able to get a younger, better-equipped model for your money.

Supermini efficiency anomaly
Why aren't small superminis, such as the Ford Fiesta and Mitsubishi Colt, more fuel-efficient than their bigger saloon siblings? Surely there are weight gains, but the bigger saloons are still close when it comes to fuel economy.
Mick

What Car? Hi Mick. Superminis usually are quite a bit more fuel-efficient than saloons. A Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic, for example, averages 76.3mpg, which is 16% more than a Mondeo 1.6 TDCi. However, its likely the gap would be even wider in the real-world. Diesel saloons often have very long gearing, which gives them impressive fuel economy figures in the extra-urban part of the official tests. That makes them surprisingly economical on the motorway, but in other types of driving around town for example the supermini would be streets ahead.

Compact exec, for a private buyer?
I'm looking for a comfortable compact executive car with six-cylinder power. I'd prefer a diesel, but petrol's fine because economy isn't that important, and I'm a private buyer, so there's no need to worry about company car tax. What would you suggest? I'd prefer a more comfortable ride than a thrilling drive. Thanks guys.
Joe

What Car? Hi Joe, We wouldn't look further than the BMW 330d. It's great to drive and the engine is superb.
BMW 3 Series review

Here's a curve ball, though. We're running an Alpina D3 Biturbo as a long-term test car. It's only four cylinders, but our group production editor Euan loves it.

Find out more here

Hyundai i40 vs Ford Mondeo
I will be looking to change my car around September 11, and I need an estate. I've heard Hyundai have a new estate called the i40 coming out around that time - do you think its worth considering against the Ford Mondeo? Im a bit worried about the badge but have heard only good things about Hyundai recently.
John

What Car? Hello John. The Hyundai i40 is definitely worth a look. It looks good, its a bit cheaper than the Mondeo and comes well equipped. You also get the reassurance of a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. Weve driven only pre-production models so far, and we reckon that it needs a bit of polish before it hits showrooms in September. Even then, itll have to be incredibly good to beat the Mondeo, which is our current class favourite. Its classy, incredibly refined, fun to drive and very practical.

Audi, BMW or Renault?
Hi all. I just wanted some advice about a coupe/hot hatch in the 20-30000 range. Ive been looking for ages and cant decide between the BMW 1 Series and the Audi S3? Maybe I should even be looking at the Renault Megane Renaultsport 250? Does the Renault really live up to the hype?
Tam

What Car? Hi Tam. It depends what you want from your hot hatch. If you want something fast, but that also has a plush interior and plenty of creature comforts then the Audi S3 is a good bet. If thats the case, though, wed also suggest you check out the VW Golf R. However, if you want a car thats designed chiefly to put a smile on your face, its got to be the Renault Megane Cup. It deserves all the hype, because its just so engaging to drive and so supremely capable. True, it doesnt have the premium badge or the posh interior of the Audi, but you want give two hoots about that when youre on your favourite twisty B-road!

Depreciation prices
We wish to buy a one-year old Mercedes E-Class Convertible. I have looked at your depreciation chart, with reference to the 250 CDI. At a starting price of around 39k your chart shows first-year depreciation down to 29k. I have not found a second hand car anywhere near this price. Can you explain?
Mike

What Car? Hi Mike we reckon that a 10/59-plate E250 CDI SE convertible should set you back around 32,000 if you buy from a dealer and the car has done around 10,000 per year. Prices will vary depending on how many miles the cars done and if you buy one from a dealer or private seller. Few will have done many miles at this point, so will cost you a little bit more to buy. The valuations part of our website will help you out on this, too.

Mazda, Mitsubishi, or Suzuki?
If you had a choice between a Mitsubishi Colt Cleartec against either a Suzuki Swift 1.2 or Mazda 2, which would you go for?
Mick

What Car? Hello Mick. From that shortlist wed go for either the Suzuki Swift or Mazda 2. The Colt is an older car and although you should be able to get a good deal on it, it feels its age. A replacement isnt too far off, though. The Swift is well priced and comes with a lot of kit. It looks good, too, but its rather unrefined and the engine is a bit weedy. Recent improvements have made the Mazda 2 a better car it now has a more forgiving ride and better refinement. Its still noisier than some rivals at speed and the interior is dull to look at. Its fun to drive and cheap to own, however, so probably would just get my vote. Alternatively, its well worth having a look at our favourite supermini, the Ford Fiesta, and getting a good discount on the list price.

Audi A1 or Ford Fiesta?
How would you compare the Ford Fiesta Zetec S 1.6 Ti-VCT and the Audi A1 1.4 TSI?
Jennifer

What Car? Easy one Jennifer. The A1 gets our vote. More fun to drive, quicker and just better all round. It's about two grand more expensive than the Fiesta, though.

Kia Picanto test soon?
Hi guys, Just wondering if you're planning a group test with the new Kia Picanto? I reckon it looks great and from what I've heard (you included) it's a huge improvement over its predecessor.
Anon

What Car? As it happens, were finalising plans for a Picanto group test today itll be in the September issue of the magazine. Also, we certainly believe the new Picanto is a massive improvement over the previous version, so we expect it to do very well.

Downsizing
I am due to retire in a few months and currently have a Skoda Superb Estate, which is too big for my needs. I am looking for a supermini and have looked at the Polo 1.2 TSI SEL, but it looks pricey. Any other suggestions? (not Ford or Vauxhall).
Ken

What Car? Hello Ken. The Polo 1.2 TSI is an excellent car, but as you point out its also rather expensive. If a Ford or Vauxhall isnt your thing (although it really is worth considering a Fiesta) then perhaps an Audi A1 might be worth a look. Again, its not cheap, but it is a brilliant little car. Its three-door only at the moment, although a five-door is due early next year. If youre happy with your Superb, the Skoda Fabia might be worth considering, too. If you want something really practical but cheap to run how about a Citroen C3 Picasso or Honda Jazz?