Astra or Octavia
I drive a Vauxhall Astra Estate 1.7dti, X-reg, year 2000. Although it's only 73hp (according to Parkers car guide) it packs some punch. There can be a little turbo lag at low revs, but it soon shifts. Plenty of torque, and towing a small rib, it doesn't make any noticable difference to the car's performance. I only wish I'd bought it a few years ago! One of my friends like it so much, he went and bought an identical one. It has a great load space which swallows loads, especially with the seats folded down.
My dad (and me when I can get my hands on it) drives a 52 reg Octavia estate, 1.9TDi. It's noticably nippier than the astra, but the astra isn't slow. The octavia is VW engineering, as has already been said, and Audi are also part of the same group. You'll get more car for your money if you go for a skoda over a VW or Audi.
Both the octavia and the astra are pretty good on fuel economy. I'm quite heavy footed and still manage about 48mpg, although my mate has squeezed the 55mpg out that it states in the manual in his.
Good luck Tim M,
from Tim M
(you got the username first!)