Buying a medium-sized family car - what would you recommend for £7.5k?

I'm looking for a second hand, medium-sized family car for a budget of around £7500. I plan to use an auction broker to find a good used example (2/3 years old) once I've chosen the model I'd like.
My shortlist is a Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 EGS, Vauxhall Astra Estate 1.6 Techline or Toyota Verso 2.2D (all diesel). The vehicle needs to cope with a 300-mile round trip to see family at the weekend and long drives during the week. An essential requirement is a large, flat load area to carry my equipment as a touring musician.

Asked on 7 December 2015 by MR C STANBURY

Answered by Honest John
Citroen C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi EGS: Engine issues, awful automated manual transmission avoid

Vauxhall Astra Estate 1.6 Techline: I don't think you'll get the new 1.6 diesel engine for £7,500.

Toyota Verso 2.2D: Not a very nice engine. The 1.8i Valvematic with the Multidrive S automatic transmission is much better.

The best car with the PSA/Ford 1.6 HDi/TDCi is the Mazda 5 TS2, which I ran for a year and really liked for its combination of excellent steering, handling and ride comfort:

Remember if using an auction broker you have to pre-commit to pay him for whatever car he sources for you. He is acting as your agent in sourcing the car, so you have no consumer rights against him.
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