QUESTION - BECK:
I need a safe hatchback with a big boot for a bad driver. What should I look at?
It will be used mostly for city driving with yearly country trips.
ANSWER - NATHAN:
The determining factor in what you buy is just how big you need your boot to be.
If you're talking regular small hatchback, then I think your best bet is probably the new-generation Subaru Impreza. It doesn't go on sale until December but it's definitely about as safe as you can go, given that it not only offers a full suite of driver-assist technology but is also all-wheel drive. And the range-topping Impreza 2.0i-S will have a drive-away price in the low 30s.
Rail, hail or shine, it has the best traction of anything its size, and in terms of boot space, it's definitely competitive (though there are small cars with larger boots). The Skoda Octavia has the largest boot in the small-car class by some margin, but its dual-clutch transmission won't be as forgiving of bad driving technique as the Subaru's CVT transmission.
If the Impreza simply isn't large enough, you'll be looking at one of the 'liftback' hatchbacks in the class above. And the best option there in terms of comfort, safety equipment and boot size is the Ford Mondeo. It’s boot is huge and it's also a very easy car to drive, with a brilliant ride, great seats and confidence-inspiring handling. The only caveat is its overall size - it's a much bigger car than the Impreza so it really depends on just how much luggage space you need.
A left-field choice is to go for a small SUV. While not as good to drive or as efficient as a regular car, something like the Honda HR-V may suit your needs. It's one of the larger small SUVs and shines in terms of practicality and luggage-space. It also has a very clever rear-seat folding mechanism which is unbeatable, and the top-spec model is loaded with driver-assist safety gear.
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