Q. Replacing our Nissan Qashqai is proving far from straightforward. My wife likes a raised seating position as she has had a hip replaced, we need four-wheel drive (we live in the country) and would prefer a petrol engine with an automatic gearbox, and it shouldn’t be much larger than our Qashqai, as the entrance to our garage is awkward. We are looking for a low-mileage car, less than two years old, for below £25,000.
TN, Lyndhurst, Hampshire
A. This was a tough search. Having ruled out the new version of the Qashqai because it has not been offered with the combination of an automatic gearbox and a petrol engine, the most obvious contender is an Audi. A used 2012-plate Q3 would be comfortably within your budget, specifically the excellent 2.0T quattro SE. It comes with four-wheel drive as standard and is only 5cm wider, plus the raised seating position will hopefully be comfortable for your wife.
A left-field choice would be the Mercedes B-class. It’s not so much an SUV, but more of a people carrier, and is available with four-wheel drive, which the manufacturer calls 4Matic. The car is pretty near identical in size to your Qashqai, but there is only one model for you to consider — the B 220 4Matic — and because so few drivers buy this when new the limited supply on the used market means that you won’t be spoilt for choice.
The B 220 is more frugal than the Audi Q3, returning 42.2mpg, and what’s more, it’s arguably even easier to climb in and out of. You’ll find some 2014 examples with less than 5,000 miles on the clock for under £25,000.
For ease of parking in your garage, also consider the Mini Countryman; it’s 24cm shorter than your Qashqai, which may be a help.
The All4 model comes with four-wheel drive and the 1.6-litre petrol engine is available with automatic transmission.
With claimed fuel consumption of 40mpg, it’s economical too. The Countryman offers drivers an elevated seating position in the style of an SUV, and its raised ground clearance and 4×4 system are competent enough to cope with harsh winters in the countryside.
Your £25,000 budget easily affords a nearly new, low-mileage 2014 Cooper All4.
Audi Q3 2.0T QUATTRO SE
For Robust build; classy looks
Against Slightly longer and wider than your current Qashqai
Search for used Audi Q3
Mercedes-Benz B 220 4Matic Sport
For Good fuel economy; clever all-wheel-drive system; similar in size to Qashqai
Against Used examples are rare
Search for used Mercedes-Benz B-class
Mini Countryman All4 1.6 Cooper
For Compact yet competent enough to handle harsh winter weather
Against You’ll either love or hate its looks
Search for used Mini Countryman