Ask the Expert: ‘Which low-emission estate car will be best for long trips?’

With Edinburgh’s clean air zone (Caz) being enforced next year, our reader is seeking a new car
With Edinburgh’s clean air zone (Caz) being enforced next year, our reader is seeking a new car - Alamy

Dear Alex,

With Edinburgh’s clean air zone (Caz) being enforced next year, I’m looking to replace my faithful Subaru Legacy and my wife’s Mini Countryman, both diesel, with a single car. We are thinking of a three- to four-year-old estate car, with decent boot space and a comfortable ride for long journeys to visit family and friends in Somerset and London. We don’t want to go electric and I am not particularly convinced by hybrids. An SUV might work, but we don’t want anything bigger than the Legacy. Our budget is £25,000. What do you suggest?

– TF

Dear TF,

Given the considerable mileage that you’re planning to do, going diesel again is sensible. Your budget will stretch to a Euro 6 diesel, which will be exempt from the Caz and Ulez charges. And you’ll save money on fuel in the long run, thanks to the diesel engine’s better efficiency.

I’d be tempted by a Volvo V60 D4 Inscription, like the 2020 example I found going for a shade over £24,000. Comfortable, quiet and economical, the V60 also has a beautiful interior, and the D4 engine should return an easy 50 mpg.

If you decide that you’d rather not go diesel again, how about a Skoda Octavia? Your budget will get you into one of the latest generation cars, and it’s still one of our favourites. You’d be surprised how plush the latest Octavia is inside. The only black mark is the glitchy entertainment system – but the rest of the car is so good that it makes up for it. And given you can pick up a 2022 1.5 TSI SE L with just 8,000 on the clock for your budget, it’s well worth considering.

Finally, if it’s an SUV you’re after, have a look at the Mazda CX-5. It’s a brilliant thing whether you choose the petrol or the diesel – though the latter is our choice, as it’s gutsier and more flexible. You get a truly premium-feeling cockpit for a non-premium price. The CX-5 is great to drive, too, and rather well equipped. I found a 2021 2.2 Skyactiv-D SE-L with 21,000 miles on it going for £25,000.

For new and used buying guides, tips and expert advice, visit our Advice section, or sign up to our newsletter here

To talk all things motoring with the Telegraph Cars team join the Telegraph Motoring Club Facebook group here

A-Z Car Finder

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.