Q. I wanted to replace my Suzuki SX4 automatic with another, but to my surprise Suzuki no longer offers an automatic gearbox. What similar car with a raised seating position, four-wheel drive and sensible running costs can I get for £20,000?
JH, Almondbury, Huddersfield
A. Suzuki no longer offers an automatic SX4 because it has stopped making the car altogether. There are bargains to be had among dealers’ remaining stock but if you can’t find one, consider the BMW X1, which is slightly larger than your Suzuki but better to drive and nicer to sit in. The diesel sDrive 18d is the pick of the range on your budget, as it delivers decent performance (0-62mph in 9.6 seconds) with 57.6mpg. A six-speed automatic gearbox was a popular option on that model. Look for a 2012 model with about 15,000 miles.
I have a soft spot for the Mini Countryman. It is a little more compact than the SX4 and this, in conjunction with the sporty suspension and steering, gives it an agile feel. In ALL4 trim you get four-wheel drive, so it will cope with winter weather just as well as the Suzuki, and there are plenty of used models on the market with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox.
You didn’t say how many miles you cover each year, but the Mini Countryman Cooper gives the choice of petrol or diesel power; if you drive fewer than 12,000 miles a year, go for the 1.6 petrol, which returns 40.4mpg (the diesel does 47.9mpg), as it is about £1,000 cheaper. You can afford a 2014 model with 6,000 miles on the clock.
If you like the exclusivity of your Suzuki SX4, consider the Mitsubishi ASX. The driving position is more elevated than that of the Countryman but otherwise it is of similar proportions. Automatic transmission is available only with the diesel engine, which returns 48.7mpg despite its 2.2 litres being on the large side. A 2013 model costs about £20,000.
Mini Countryman ALL4
For Choice of petrol and diesel engines; funky interior
Against Driving position may feel low
For Great to drive; feels like a saloon; clever 4×4 system; economical diesel
Against Rear-seat space is a little tight
For Looks like a 4×4; well equipped; easy to drive
Against Used examples are less plentiful