There was me thinking that my limited appeal was strictly to the locals who don’t know any better. But, no, it was a pleasure and privilege to get a car-buying question from one of our European cousins. In this case, it was Melicia, who lives in Rome.
Helpfully, she outlined how she uses her current car. She said that for 99% of the time, for city trips of less than half an hour, there are only one or two people in the car. However, two or three times a year, they go from Rome mob-handed, with four or five people and their luggage, to another city two or three hours away. Then they go mad and take a one-off road trip to a city about eight hours away. At this point, it’s probably timely to mourn the passing of Melicia’s worn-out Honda Civic.
The thing is, Rome is going the way of all major cities and imposing emissions-based restrictions. That means a hybrid is going to be the answer, and the smaller the better. When Melicia needs a big barge for those big trips, she can get everyone to chip in and rent the best people-mover for the job. Otherwise, it is a case of getting a city hatch to handle all those one-up and two-up trips.
I won’t go shopping in Rome. Let’s play the game over here. The obvious budget answer is one of those Honda Civic 1.3 IMAs in Executive trim. One of these early-era 2005 hybrids with 108k miles is around £1995. It’s a four-door saloon but not a huge thing and easy to live (and pick up all those Rome-related parking dents) with.
There are, of course, more Toyota Priuses than you can shake an Uber at and those are the ones to ideally avoid. Otherwise, a decent 2007 Prius with just over 100k miles is going to be around £2950.