As you get older, you want to stay mobile and independent, so you’re going to need a car that helps you do just that. We’ve got some advice and a handful of recommended runabout cars that may not make you younger but will make you wiser.
Now that you’re retired, perhaps you're at an age where you just want a car for local driving, with the occasional longer hop. Or maybe you just want something comfortable and easy to drive.
There are certainly many ways in which a new car can make life easier for you. An automatic gearbox is one way that a car can help to make driving less of an effort. If you have arthritis or mobility issues, the last thing you need is a stiff clutch and frequent gear changes. Most modern automatic gearboxes are very smooth and easy to use, so they should make driving easier.
You’ll probably also want to go for a smaller car, as they’re cheaper to run and easier to use around town. They're also a lot easier to park.
And talking of parking, there are lots of cars with very clever parking technologies, including some systems that will steer a car into a parking space for you: all you have to do is use the brake and accelerator.
As we get older, our eyesight tends to deteriorate, so you want as much help with visibility as possible. Large windows at the front and rear are a good idea, as are features such as large mirrors and quick-clearing windscreens. The slightly higher seating positions of the new compact SUVs can also be useful, not only for seeing further, but also for getting in and out of the car.
Seats are also important when you’re older. You’ll need something supportive, ideally with a lumbar function, and heated seats are also useful if you find your joints tend to stiffen up when driving. Some higher-end cars also have massage functions, which can be very relaxing.
Finally, car technologies have advanced hugely, so many models are now fitted with useful safety features, such as parking sensors and reversing cameras, and warning systems for blind spots and if you stray out of a lane. Automatic lights and wipers, and automatic and electronic boot opening systems, can also be very useful.
Runabout cars for older drivers
Škoda is a car company that somehow manages to create more space in its cars than rivals, and the Fabia is a good example of that.
The interior is very spacious for a small car and well put together, with a good range of equipment on all trim levels. On the road, it's very comfortable to drive and the 1.0-litre (the only one available) engine offers enough power: there are also versions with an automatic gearbox.
Škoda also has a strong reputation for reliability, so ownership should be worry-free.
The current crop of compact SUVs are worth investigating, as their raised ride height increases visibility. The pick of the bunch is the Seat Arona, which is based on Volkswagen engineering and technology.
It's a very stylish car, inside and out, plus it comes with lots of well-equipped trim levels and engine options. You might also want to choose one of the variants using the DSG automatic gearbox, which is very easy to use.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
The Volkswagen Polo is a sound and sensible choice for many car buyers, especially since it has grown in recent years, to make it now larger and more practical.
But if you want a car with a little more pep in its step, there’s the sportier GTI version. A power boost (to 200 bhp) means that it can not only handle runabout duties with ease, but it’s also perky enough to perform on country roads and motorways.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class offers many useful features for older drivers. As a compact people carrier, the seats are slightly higher set – and they’re very comfortable. In fact, this is a very comfortable and easy car to drive, with a smooth DCT automatic gearbox, and efficient diesel and petrol engine options to choose from.
There are also lots of features that provide convenience or safety, making this a good all-rounder.
The easiest cars to drive these days are electric, like the Renault Zoe. This small car is nippy around town and, because it’s electric, doesn’t require any gear changes (there’s only one gear). The interior is very comfortable and feels very modern, with useful safety features.
If you have a drive or garage, you can have a charger fitted, which will make it cheaper to run than a petrol or diesel car. You’ll also be doing your bit to improve the environment for your children and grandchildren.
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