Julian Parsons admits that finding a car to match his specific, sometimes contradictory needs is an ongoing mission.
The 50-year old company director has £10,000 to spend and wants something that is comfortable yet economical. It needs to be a good size to accommodate his wife and two teenage daughters, yet also agile enough to navigate the traffic-clogged streets of southeast London. He would also like an automatic.
So the task has been set. Here are our top three suggestions…
1. The most comfortable saloon for £10,000: BMW 5 Series
The BMW 5 Series is an obvious choice because it has such a strong suite of skills.
It’s solid, comfortable and feels responsive to drive, so should go some way towards shrinking its size around town. In diesel guise, the 5 Series is also very economical. For £10,000, Julian could buy a 2.0-litre 520d from 2009, with either 09 or 59 registration numbers.
What’s not to like? Well, the ride can feel a bit unforgiving, yet Julian’s used to firm German cars. The appearance also tends to create a Marmite reaction; you either love it or loathe it. But if Julian falls into the former camp, the 5 Series could be the car he’s looking for without having to compromise too much.
Overall - a superb all-rounder.
2. Best value for money saloon for £10,000: Skoda Superb
Stepping down to a lower-class car does have some benefits. Julian will be able to afford a younger model that’s probably better equipped. And if he chooses the Skoda Superb, he’ll get a car that lives up to its optimistic name.
For a start, his budget will stretch to a 12 or 62 reg model from 2012. And his two teenagers certainly won’t complain about sitting in the back – there’s loads of space.
But the Superb is far more than a workhorse. Its large boot has a clever tailgate that can be opened either as a conventional saloon or a hatchback, handy for loading larger objects like a bike. And taking a leaf out of Rolls-Royce luxury cars, there’s an umbrella hidden in a compartment in the door.
The Superb has the basics covered too. It’s comfortable and quiet on the move, equipment levels are high and there’s a good range of engines. We’d recommend the 2.0 TDI turbodiesel or, if he can find one, a 1.8 turbo petrol.
3. The most stylish saloon for £10,000: Jaguar XF
When Jaguar launched the XF it took the fight to the Germans with a credible executive cruiser to rival BMW, Mercedes and Audi equivalents.
With its slender but stylish looks, along with a well-built interior, the XF stands out from the crowd and should fulfil Julian’s love of design. It’s a brilliant car to drive too, with a sure-footed and responsive feel when you’re at the wheel.
However, while Julian might be happy at the front, his daughters may not be so delighted with their lot. Room in the rear isn’t as generous as rivals, particularly when it comes to headroom - a result of the sleek, almost coupe-like profile.
For his £10,000 budget, Julian will be looking at a 2009, 59-reg 3.0 V6 turbodiesel model. It won’t be as economical as the other two suggestions… but it will certainly be more eye-catching.