James Ruppert: Ideal buys if your old man's a van man?

Dad vans, anyone? They really are all the mobile box on wheels that you will ever need. That’s probably why the owner of a Skoda Yeti, whose car was hit by a careless driver while parked, is now looking for a van-shaped MPV to replace it.

He’s part of a family of four who like going camping, so they need lots of space and would prefer an automatic gearbox if possible. And as they live within London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, he wants a petrol.

His budget is relatively high, at up to £18,000, and he likes the idea of a Citroën Berlingo or Vauxhall Combo Life. But I’m sure I can come up with alternatives for a more modest outlay.

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The Ford B-Max is a pretty decent mid-sized MPV. I came across a 2017 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium Navigator with 26,000 miles for £9495 at a main dealer. It had just one previous owner and seemed as good as new, but our reader wanted an automatic to cope with city living, so I switched my attention to a 2015 1.6 Titanium Powershift with 40,000 miles at just over £7000. It offered worse fuel consumption, but that’s the price you pay for having an auto.

Here’s a weird one: the Ssangyong Tivoli. It’s only weird because not enough of us think about this ultra-reliable little bus, which I consider to be pretty good to drive, in that no one actually cares how it performs.

It also comes in the correct flavour for our search, as the 1.6 e-XGi ELX auto. These little beauties are sensational value compared with cars from the mainstream brands, and there can also be some residual manufacturer warranty left. I found a 2018 example with just over 14,000 miles for £10,995. This is a top-spec job with a full dealer service history, plus four years’ worth of cover left.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is anathema to me, but some people like the idea, so let’s go there for a bit. A reasonably cool-looking 218i from 2017 with 40,000 miles and just the one owner isn’t half bad at £12,700 from an independent dealer. And while it’s style over real substance, a 2019 218 M Sport with just 17,000 miles might well appeal for £16,800.

I really do like the unpretentious and utterly minibus dimensions and Postman Patness of the Renault Kangoo. A lot of them have been adapted for wheelchair users, but I did find a standard 2010 1.6 Expression auto with 54,000 miles for a shade under £6000.


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