Can you recommend an economical family car for £7000 to replace our 7-year-old Nissan Micra?

Please help. We are two old bats in our 60s about to buy a car. I have owned Micras since they started making them. I love them, they handle well, turn on a sixpence, hold us and the grandchildren or six bags of manure or holiday stuff, and seem as economical as anything else. The only trouble we had was with the electronic ignition, which you advised us about and they sorted it for us.

Our current Micra is 7 years old and we would like to replace it. We were thinking of downsizing to a 3-door but they no longer do them and we don't like the look of the Pixo at all, although it is about the price we would like to pay of £7000. We have been looking at the new little Fiat and the Citroen C1, which is very stylish, however we have no idea about other cars, technically.

We need a reliable, economical vehicle that will take three growing grandchildren in the back at a pinch. Is zero road tax possible? We do 12,000 miles a year, comprising half a dozen short local journeys a week, a fortnightly round trip of 80 miles and about six long trips to the north or west of the UK. Oh, and I am a tall woman so need headroom. Should we stretch ourselves a bit and go for the new Micra?

Asked on 4 July 2011 by HM, via email

Answered by Honest John
Your best bet for £7000 is a Hyundai i10 1.2 Classic, recently down to £6995, with three seat belts in the back and £20 tax. Alternatively, but less well equipped, a Vauxhall Agila or Suzuki Splash 1.2, both selling at around £7000 with £30 tax. New Micras start at £8000 for the basic Visia, which is £30 annual tax. The annual tax-free 1.2 DIG-S supercharged version starts at about £11,000. A new KIA Picanto 1.0 is also worth considering. Both the 1.0 and the 1.25 with ISG are free annual tax and prices start at £8,000.
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