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.
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