Can you suggest a reliable car to go off-road and carry around kayaking gear?

It’s time to replace my 2010 Volkswagen Polo 1.4 but there are so many options! I still make a few regular short trips to the shops, allotment and tip — with a weekly 100 mile trip on A roads to see family. But, in recent years, I have taken up kayaking which means motorway miles followed by very minor roads or dirt tracks. I would like more storage for gear and camping kit. Since the car still needs to be reliable and economical, and not too big given city parking, I think the sensible choice would be a Skoda Fabia Estate.

What would you suggest as an alternative for my up to £15k (including trade-in) budget? The Dacia Duster seems to be style over substance, but even the unaffordable SEAT Ateca, Skoda Karoq or other upmarket small SUVs seem to focus on people transport not stuff. I'm tempted by the camping possibilities of a Citroen Berlingo or maybe a Skoda Yeti, but not sure how I would cope with driving and parking a bigger car or how much more it would cost to run.

Asked on 2 August 2021 by Susanna Hawkins

Answered by Andrew Brady
A van-based people carrier like the Berlingo could be a great choice – it's very versatile and, ordinarily, they represent excellent value for money as most buyers want a trendy SUV instead. I say 'ordinarily'... a lot of people are looking for vehicles for staycations so prices are currently a little inflated. Still, your budget will get you a tidy 2018 model. Once you get used to it, it won't feel too big at all for parking around town. Alternatively, how about a Skoda Octavia Estate? It's very, very practical (much more so than a Fabia) and will be cheap to run. Again, you'll soon get used to its size. There's a rugged 4x4 model, too, badged the Scout – this'd be ideal for your off-piste activities.
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