Q. I need a nearly new car, still protected by the manufacturer’s warranty, that will allow me to carry a pair of bikes around the country. With a budget of £15,000, can I afford a car big enough to hold two bikes with the back seats folded down, such as a Golf estate, or should I opt for a more compact car such as a Mini Countryman and use a bike rack?
DP, Ashford, Kent
A. Squeezing two bikes into the back of a relatively new car isn’t going to do the bikes or the car much good. The interior of the car could be damaged or stained with oil and grease, while the bikes’ frames and components will be knocked about. You’ll also need to secure them or they’ll slide about. An external bike rack attached to the roof or the back of the car is a better solution and will give you the freedom to choose the model you desire.
The five-door Countryman holds its value well and the 1.6-litre Cooper diesel can return up to 64.2mpg (combined). Most models would have been sold from new with Mini’s TLC servicing package, which takes care of the maintenance for five years or 50,000 miles, making this a surprisingly affordable car to own. Your budget gets a 2011 11-registered 1.6 D Cooper. Mini’s own rear-mounted bike carrier costs £425. The Golf estate’s large, boxy body is practical but doesn’t offer much of a feelgood factor. The 1.6 TDI — the engine that powers the majority of Golfs in your price range — returns 62.8mpg (combined). A 2013 13-registered SE model is within budget; VW’s bike carrier for the roof costs £275. The original warranty will give you peace of mind until March 2016.
Why not combine practicality with style? You can afford a 2012 61 Audi A3 1.4 TSI Sportback that has covered less than 15,000 miles. It returns 48.7mpg and offers a refined drive. The Sportback five-door body is a little like an estate car that has shrunk in a hot wash. Audi’s roof-mounted cycle rack costs £305 (or £275 if your car already has roof rails). The warranty will cover the car until early 2015.
Audi A3 Sportback
For More comfortable and upmarket than the Countryman
Against Petrol engine better than the diesel
Volkswagen Golf Estate
For Surprisingly good value; well made; spacious interior
Against Looks more conservative than a pair of green wellies