SO you are looking for a car and have £6,000 burning a hole in your pocket.
If you don't have a particular manufacturer in mind, the main question is - do you go for new or second hand?
Strong competition and keen pricing means that for such a relatively modest sum, you now have a choice of a variety of brand new models.
One of the latest in the sub-£6,000 price bracket is the Suzuki Alto five-door hatchback, which recently arrived in UK showrooms.
The first generation Alto was launched in 1979. Since then some 7.5 million have been sold worldwide, so Suzuki obviously knows what it's doing when it comes to putting together a sensible, low price package.
The latest Alto is an all-new model, however, designed to tempt buyers in the growing budget sector of the market - and you do get a lot for your money.
The most surprising thing about the Alto is that despite the fact that it looks small from the outside it doesn't feel that small once you are behind the wheel. And despite its budget price tag it has a lot of creature comforts which many of its similar-priced competitors don't.
Standard features include power steering, electric front windows - with a one shot action on the driver's side - central locking, front passenger and driver airbags and a radio/cassette player. You even get a rev counter and a digital clock. The days when the lowest priced cars are also the most basic of cars are now long gone.
Powered by a 1.1-litre, 62 bhp engine, this little car is surprisingly nippy, the gear ratios on the manual five-speed box being designed to give brisk responses in town yet economical running at high speed.
It certainly scores highly as a city car, being both lively and agile in heavy traffic and - because of its size and small turning circle - a cinch to park.
The steering is very positive, almost go-kart like. This, plus the fact that the Alto is a fairly light car, can make it feel a little skittish when trying to take corners too quickly. It is, however, more a characteristic of the car than a negative aspect, and when you do push this little car on corners it copes perfectly well.
Despite its compact dimensions and small engine the Alto feels perfectly happy at motorway speeds too. And, as you would expect, you also get sensible fuel consumption which, on a run, stretches to more than 70 miles per gallon.
Initially all models coming to the UK are GL spec and have five doors.
Legroom for rear seat passengers can best be described as adequate and the luggage space of 177 litres means it is fine for everyday use - the weekly grocery shop etc - but when heading off on holiday you would have to fold down the rear seat backs to accommodate a large suitcase.
After a week with the Alto it certainly made me stop and question the logic of paying the inflated price of some new cars when models like this get you from A to B just as reliably, and are now very well equipped little cars.
Suzuki Alto GL
Mechanical: 62bhp, 1,061cc 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 96mph
Combined mpg: 57.6
Insurance group: 5
CO2 emissions: 119 g/km
BiK rating: 15%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 6yrs anti-rust