We've got an R-plate mid-size Peugeot, a 1.9TD hatchback which will is a great little car and has served us well for years. We get 40mpg on a motorway drive. But, we do a fair amount of motorway driving - our family is quite spread-out geographically and there just aren't public transport options that don't take at least double the time and double the cost. Around town we cycle, and rely on public transport for commuting and wherever possible. Mostly we use the car to get a big food shop or to visit family.

My top three reasons for upgrading (in order of importance):

1. Safety - I don't think our car would protect us much in an accident, and the health and security of my family is my highest priority
2. Economics - Whilst our car has been relatively cheap to maintain, it's getting to the age where important bits might start to fail (another nod to safety I guess). I think we could also improve on the fuel efficiency - even 50mpg would give take us an extra 25 miles every 100 miles we drive.
3. Opportunity - The car market is suffering as much as any other at the moment. This is for good reason and it could well fall further, but it does seem an opportune and even economically responsible decision to buy at such a low. I know nothing about economics really - this is just how it feels to me!

My top three reasons for not sticking with our old trusty (in order of importance):

1. Cost - I'm being honest. Any car is very expensive to buy, run and maintain. Newer cars are more expensive and complex - likely to be more expensive to service. Would I be better sticking cash or gold under my mattress in case any of the more apocalytic predictions for the future happen? Or re-insulating the loft etc
2. Sustainability - By upgrading my car I would be supporting, and pledging my (at least short-term) alliegance to the high carbon economy which is obviously so broken. I would mitigate the effects of course - I'd still be running only one engine, and I'd be buying a diesel to make the use of locally-produced biodiesel from waste veggie oil, and using that fuel in the most efficient engine I could afford.
3. I really can't decide what to get that's safe, fun, practical and economic!

I'm going to keep thinking about this, and would really appreciate any comments, either about my ethical dilemma or a car you particularly recommend.