I am newly retired and plan to swap my Citroën C5 for a smaller, inexpensive car. I have owned three C5s, mainly because the hydropneumatic suspension gives such a smooth ride. Which small cars are similarly comfortable? NR, Lymington, Hampshire
As a former owner of a Citroën fitted with this suspension system, I understand why you like it. It will be difficult to find a little car that’s anywhere near as comfortable to drive. Small cars, with short wheelbases and light bodies, are inherently prone to bouncing.
One of the cars that have impressed me most is the Chevrolet Spark — well worth a test drive as the ride is surprisingly composed. The entry-level version is called the LS and is fitted with the smallest wheels (13in diameter) of all Spark models, helping to reduce the crashing effect should you hit a pothole. As you’ll see on used-car sites such asdriving.co.uk, a budget of about £7,000 will buy a 2013 or 2014 1-litre LS model.
The Hyundai i20 hatchback is slightly larger than the Spark and the quality of the interior is a cut above. Because it has a greater distance between the front and rear wheels, it rides more smoothly. The trade-off is that you will either have to buy a model that is older or pay more for one the same age as the Chevrolet. Search for a 1.2 Comfort, as it comes with alloy wheels and air-conditioning as standard; a 2012-registered model with 15,000 miles is about £7,500.
A slightly larger car still is the Toyota Auris, about the size of a VW Golf. It offers minimal wind and tyre roar, and the ride is reassuringly comfortable. What’s more, the cabin is a bit more roomy than that of the Spark or the i20. It is supplied with a 1.3-litre or a 1.6-litre engine. Look for a TR model, which comes with soft velour-style seat bolsters. A 2011 1.33 VVT-i TR with about 20,000 miles costs in the region of £8,000.
- For Small, easy to drive, comfy, cheap
- Against Long-term residual values likely to fall as Chevrolet is to leave UK next year
- For Spacious cabin, well-laid-out interior
- Against Some plastic trim feels a little hard and cheap
- For The most comfortable and quiet of this trio, well built and very reliable
- Against You get an older car for the price