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Looking for something a little funky
By Jack Biddle • 20/06/2015
A high seat and a little character
Trudy has dodgy knees so getting in and out of her low-slung Honda City sedan is difficult. She wants to buy a vehicle with a higher seating position. Her husband is on to his second Toyota bB (it’s an odd-shaped but very spacious small Japanese used import) which he uses for work. “I want to break away from the mainstream and drive something a wee bit different but it must have that slightly higher seating and ease of entry and exit,” says Trudy. “We travel to the Coromandel to visit friends at least a couple of times a year, but apart from that it’s mainly around-town driving.”
I can think of a few European vehicles in this price range which may appeal, but they all lack the feature you are looking for — higher ground clearance — so we will have to rule them out. When trying to find something that sits outside the square it pays to look at practicality. Boot space and rear passenger legroom can sometimes be squeezed.
The Budget: $23,000
Nissan Juke (2013) The Juke really does tick the box when it comes to looks with a difference. It’s no family buggy, but it does offer reasonable space for passengers — if it’s not on a regular basis. Rear vision and ease of parking may be something you need to check out thoroughly if most of the driving is going to be around town. Parking sensors can overcome some of those issues while some models may come with a reversing camera. You do need to watch specification levels as there are a number of used imports competing alongside New Zealand new Jukes. Engine size can vary, for example, between 1.5 and 1.6 litres.
Kia Soul (2012) The 1.6-litre Soul is another oddball in terms of body design that offers a high specification and safety level for those wishing to travel and be seen in something different. It had a facelift in 2012 and includes an improved six-speed automatic transmission. Other features include LED daytime lights, fog lights, multiple airbags, headlight levelling control, Bluetooth and automatic headlights.
Honda Jazz Sport (2012) The Jazz has always been more about practicality and making the best use of a small interior space than anything else, but with factory-fitted alloy wheels, a body kit and boot spoiler the Sport may be enough to make the statement you are looking for. This model is also fitted with a more traditional five-speed automatic transmission which helps provide a sportier drive.
Don’t let first impressions get in the way of looking at the practical side of ownership. Fold the seats and check out the passenger and boot space to ensure it will do the job. Take a leaf out of hubby’s book and make sure funky and practicality have some connection.