I’m hoping to change my car in a few months. This is always a risky venture. Not because I buy bad cars, but because I often buy the wrong car.
Nine times out of ten, I hone in on a single car that I want and buy one, regardless of whether or not it actually fits how I use a car. For instance, a couple of years ago I bought a Skoda Octavia vRS. It was brilliant, but after a day driving racing cars I had a crisis of confidence that I needed to learn what I was doing with rear-wheel-drive. So I sold it and got a Mazda MX-5.
I did learn about RWD, but the MX-5 was far too small and thirsty, not very comfortable and didn’t have an aux-in socket. And pretty much no synchro on second and third gears.
The Octavia is one of three cars I should never have got rid of, the others being a T-reg VW Polo 16v (another snap decision) and a Ford Puma (forced by circumstance).
So, in looking for my next car (number 16, incidentally) I am keen to make sure I buy the right car.
Now, you might imagine that as a single guy in my early Thirties, I want a feisty hot hatchback, or a slinky coupe. But that’s not the case. I currently drive white Peugeot 406 estate with a towbar. It reminds of the minicabs back home in Scarborough, refuses to do less than 40mpg and is absolutely enormous. I like big cars. 99 per cent of the time I don’t need the space, but the time I do need it will be absolutely critical. I used the Peugeot to move house.
Setting a completely arbitrary budget of £6,500 (how much I hope I will have, not necessarily how much I will actually have), I’ve drawn up a shortlist of five cars. They are all large four-doors, therefore broadly the same. But each has distinct character that I may or may not be able to get along with.
First up is the Subaru Legacy Spec B, in rare manual gearbox estate guise. It’s a real Q-car, handsome but indistinct, with rapid performance (6.8secs to 60mph; 145mph) and fantastic handling thanks to suspension nicked from the Impreza STi. But the 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine is very thirsty and dirty, making it expensive to run. Here’s one I found for sale
Next, the Chrysler 300C Touring. It certainly fulfills the space requirement. In fact, it’s so immense I could probably in it. Based on an old Mercedes chassis, it isn’t actually much cop to drive and, even with a diesel engine, not that economical. Well, it does weigh two tons. But it’s very well made and looks amazing. No-one’s going to mess with you if you roll up in one. They might end up in the boot. Here’s one I found for sale
BMWs have been the wheels of choice for the nation’s motorway cops for over a decade, now. And for good reason. With the favoured 3.0-litre diesel engine, they are fast, economical and reliable. Tough as old boots, too. There’s a good supply of ex-police 330d and 530d Tourings on the market. They are properly looked after so the astronomical mileage shouldn’t be a concern. But you need to buy from a specialist who sorts out the electrics and fills in the holes (the cars are pretty much butchered to fit the cop’s equipment and it’s just ripped out afterwards). Here’s one I found for sale
The last-generation Skoda Superb was a brilliant thing. Priced against the Ford Mondeo, but big enough and almost good enough to challenge the BMW 5-Series. It’s a relaxing thing, not exactly encouraging enthusiastic driving, which could be a problem, but it gobbles long distances in peace and quiet. Sense dictates a diesel and I’d prefer an estate. But there is a petrol V6 that does 155mph. And there’s something perversely pleasing about a 155mph Skoda. Here’s one I found for sale
Finally we have something I’m irresistibly drawn to: the Citroen C6. It is a minefield of potential problems, it’s only just fast enough and the handling isn’t up to much. But with hydropneumatic suspension and ultra-comfortable seats, it is a pool of utter serenity. And, much more to the point, it’s one of the coolest large saloons there has ever been. Here’s one for sale
So, that’s what I’m looking at. But what do you think? If it was your money, which one would you buy? Or is there something completely different that you would rather have? Let us know.
By Only Motors