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Compact MPVs in favour

Big people carriers make little sense for the average-sized family. They're bulky, awkward to park, thirsty and expensive to buy and run. A medium MPV can do the job just as well at a lower price.

Zafira is the top choice - its seven-seater flexibility gives it the edge over French rivals Scenic and Picasso. £7k buys a 1999 V-reg Zafira 1.6; the same money gets you a 00W Picasso 1.6. A middle-aged 1997 Scenic is as little as £4000. Turbo-diesel power and air conditioning are both popular and command higher prices.

Executive values facing the pinch

New BIK tax rules are resulting in huge changes in the company car parc. Big exec saloons are firmly out of favour. As are the larger petrol-engined Mercedes E-class, BMW 5-series and Audi A6 which, with their high initial purchase prices, don't make much financial sense now. A 1999 Mercedes E240 - once famed for its slow depreciation - has dropped nearly £5000 in 12 months. A 99S 1.8T Avant has lost even more: an average mileage sample can be picked up for less than £10k at an independent.

Classy image, high street price

Rover 75 is an overlooked saloon in a crowded market. A great drive, it boasts comfortable interiors and classic looks, and almost makes it as a compact executive. But it lacks the prestige of the 3-series and C-class. But think of it as a classier rival to Mondeo or Vectra, and it makes sense. And its high build quality makes it a slightly quirky, value alternative to a Volkswagen Passat or even an Audi A4.

A basic spec 1.8 Club is as little as £8k, but the 2.0 V6 is smoother to drive. Non-franchised dealers are asking £11,500 for a 00X 17,000-mile 2.0 V6 Classic SE with air conditioning, alloy wheels and fog lights. A 27,000-mile T-reg 2.5 V6 Connoisseur SE is about £11k at a specialist. Frugal common-rail diesels are rarer; expect to pay around £10k for a 99V 2.0 CDT Club at an independent.

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