Which estate or large hatchback to replace my Mercedes-Benz A-Class?

I shall soon be changing my six-year-old Mercedes-Benz A180 and was wondering if you could suggest a few options. My main criteria are for low CO2 emissions, good fuel economy and excellent comfort, plus ideally I'd like an estate or a good-sized hatchback.

I've looked at the MINI but am not prepared to pay those prices for what is essentially a "fun" car. I'm not too sure about the BMW 1 Series, and the servicing costs of Audis put me off. I'm open to suggestions and have about £20,000 to spend, including the trade-in I will get for my A-Class.

Asked on 27 October 2012 by RB, London SW11

Answered by Honest John
The best seats in any small car are in the Fiat 500, which has perfectly shaped seat backs with short side bolsters. If you need something bigger, the most comfortable MPV is a Mazda 5 TS2, but emissions aren't very low. I guess a compromise would be the outgoing Toyota Auris hybrid on 15-inch wheels, but it doesn't handle very well on these. The car with the lowest emissions you can buy is a Toyota Yaris hybrid at £15,000.
Similar questions
Please can you advise the most suitable car for me. I am hoping for reliability in a car for 10 years driving around 8000 miles per annum. A fairly small hatchback would suit and I want a car with a comfortable...
I currently own a 2002 Renault Laguna II which I've found to be an excellent car to drive and is extremely comfortable, particularly on long journeys. However, I no longer need such a large car and need...
What is the basic difference between a hatchback and an estate car, other than the size of the boot? And why are estate cars more expensive?
Related models
Funky looks and desirable image. Faithful to original. Easy to drive in town. TwinAir and Multijet emit less than 100g/km. Suspension improved from 2010.
Much better execution of original A-Class concept. Feels far higher quality, especially inside. Easy to park.
Decent combination of ride and handling that might suit some people better than a harder sprung Golf or a Civic. A few inches taller than a Golf of Focus so easier to get in and out.
Family friendly seven seater. Sport has remote electric sliding side doors. Economical and light new 1.6 diesel. Compliant suspension astonishingly good on poor road surfaces.
Enjoyable to drive. Economical engines. Spacious. Available with a smooth and economical hybrid engine.
Great range of diesel and petrol engines. High-tech yet intuitive nav and media system. Slick ride and handling.
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car