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Ask the Expert: Which economical SUV can replace our trusty Golf estate?

The Nissan Qashqai is smaller than most SUVs, making it lighter and thus achieving better fuel efficiency
The Nissan Qashqai is smaller than most SUVs, making it lighter and thus achieving better fuel efficiency - Stan Papior

Dear Alex,

We have a 2015 VW Golf estate, which has now done almost 130,000 miles, and although the engine is fine, other things are beginning to fail. We would like a replacement with similar fuel economy (our diesel Golf gets 55-60mpg), and a high degree of reliability. Diesel, petrol and hybrid are all acceptable. We would prefer an SUV-type vehicle, with a hatch-rear opening and a bit more comfortable or higher spec than the Golf. Our budget is £15,000. What do you suggest?

– AD

Dear AD,

If fuel economy is top priority, I suggest the Nissan Qashqai. The boot won’t be as roomy as your Golf’s, but the Qashqai is a smaller car than most SUVs, and that makes it lighter, which will give you a better chance of achieving that sort of efficiency. Being slightly smaller, the Qashqai is also better value than most SUVs.

Go for the 1.5 dCi – it’s the most efficient, and smoother and nicer to drive than the more powerful 1.6. You should be able to achieve 50-55mpg in the real world, though 60mpg on a run is not impossible. I found a 2019 1.5 dCi Tekna with all the toys and 41,000 miles on the clock for £15,000.

If by “higher spec” you mean a car with a premium badge, you could try the BMW X3. Go for an SE version to get the best comfort levels, and the two-litre diesel should be more than enough. The downside is that you’ll probably get no more than 45mpg on average, and that badge commands a premium, so for your £15,000 you’re only getting a 2015 example with 65,000 miles on the clock.

A good compromise would be the Mazda CX-5. The latest version is smart inside, so will feel more plush than your Golf, and it comes well equipped. There’s more boot space than the Qashqai, and while the 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t quite as economical, you should still see around 50mpg on average. The CX-5 is great to drive, and should prove dependable, too. I found a 2018 example with 49,000 miles on the clock for £14,995.


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