Need a small car for use in rural Scotland

I am trying to advise my stepson on buying a new car. He lives in rural Scotland and we have a number of questions:-

1) His budget will be in the region of £15,000; would he be better to think of a new car or one up to 24 months old?

2) He has looked at the Fiat Panda (four-wheel drive model) and Nissan Note. Can you recommend any other models of this type/range? It will be a petrol engine.

3) Is the four-wheel drive option a sensible one, or would a front-wheel drive with all year tyres be as practical? He will use the car mainly on roads, but does have to visit a croft up a track one a week.

4) Do you have any further advice, please?

Asked on 9 May 2016 by RuralRider

Answered by Honest John
The Panda 4x4 and particularly the Panda 4x4 Cross TwinAir is great for off road and snowy conditions. Fiat also does a front drive Panda Trekking fitted with an electronic diff and Goodyear Vector 4 Season tyres:

If buying anything else, the best all weather tyres are Michelin Cross Climates, but Nokian Weatherproof and Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons are almost as good and Nokian's UK distributor, Nordic Tyres, is in Inverness.
Similar questions
What would you advise is the best small car to buy? Such as the Nissan Note/Micra, Peugeot 108, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, or Vauxhall Corsa. The car would cover approx 6000 miles per year on short journeys.
My wife is considering a Fiat Panda 4x4. We have a narrow garage for which it would be ideal; however, I am over six foot in height, with a bad back. Would the seating and ride comfort be good enough?...
I am looking to buy my first car. Have been driving now for 12 years or so, mostly a works van, (Ford Transit) and never owned a car of my own. I am a self-employed freelance chef, and would need something...
Related models
Improvement in ride comfort. Outstandingly capable off road and in snow. Well equipped. Charming.
Practical design and spacious cabin. Reasonably comfortable. Clear instrument binnacle. Some clever technology on upper grades

Ask Honest John

Value my car