Frugal diesel saloons are also well worth considering
Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30
MAYBE you don't need a commercial 4x4 after all.
Of course if your work environment requires a lot of traction and grip on slippery lanes and soft fields to haul big bulky loads on winter days, then you most likely do.
But I think lots of people don't really. Maybe this might make you stop and think for a minute.
Let me put the alternative view by asking: Do you really require a big lump of a 4x4 to bring a bag of calf nuts to the outfarm?
Does the tractor and trailer not do 99pc of the load-lugging anyway?
Would it be a better fit for all the family if you had a handy, frugal, comfortable little diesel saloon, hatchback or estate?
I mean how much room do you need to carry a few buckets of a grain mix?
Before you dismiss the idea, let's have a look at what you might be able to achieve.
For a start you'd get a decent, comfortable motor with room for the family.
With a bit of research you'll get a really good small-family motor for €12,000 to €15,000. You most certainly don't need to go above that.
Against that, I concede, some people -but not all - may be bypassing the benefit of a VAT rebate on a commercial 4x4.
There is no harm in looking at an alternative anyway.
So what's out there that I think might sway your resolve?
Well, there's the Ford Focus diesel. Indeed there are two: a 1.6-litre and a powerful 1.8-litre. And a good spread of petrols.
It is a nice car, well made, with plenty of room and either diesel engine will do 45mpg even when you include short, stop-start driving. There are lots of them out there and parts are plentiful.
The only essential with any diesel - this goes for the following ones as well - is to look after them properly. Change the filter and the oil regularly.
Use proper oil. A lot of the trouble with cars is down to their owners using the wrong grade of oil in vital areas.
Next up, I think, is a fine little car from Kia, the 'Cee'd.
If you could manage to get a station wagon version of it (they are out there) I think you'd be doing yourself a decent turn.
The 1.6-litre diesel is perhaps not the most refined but in this car you don't notice. The chances are that for a €12,000 model there's a few years' warranty left on it too. That's because the seven-year warranty continues with subsequent buyers until it has expired.
Mazdas tend to outlast most cars. They are never over-priced on the secondhand market. The old Mazda 3 didn't ring too many bells, but it's the sort of car you'd get a decent deal on.
By the way, don't be afraid of petrol. It almost seems like a bad word these days when everyone is talking diesel.
But shop around for a good Mazda 4 door with a 1.6-litre petrol. You might be surprised at what you'll get. Then there's the Mitsubishi Lancer, a car you never hear that much about.
It is not fancy; it's a typical low-key, never-stop-going motor that is as plain as a sliced pan. But it will be around when a lot of the fancier names are in the scrap yard.
There's a 1.8-litre diesel but a really frugal 1.6-litre petrol as well if you want to come up in the years.
There are plenty of Opel dealers around so you should be well able to track down a good Astra.
If you can push yourself at all, the saloon is excellent. Of all the cars out there the Astra range has a big spread of diesel and petrol versions. It is a much better car than it is given credit for.
The Peugeot 308 is a popular car with lots of people, but especially with farmers.
The diesel engines in these cars are renowned, rightly so, for their longevity and low fuel consumption.
I think the Skoda Octavia has to come into your reckoning.
While I'd go for the 1.9-litre or 2-litre diesel versions, there are smaller but decent petrols too.
These are big strong cars and can take a fair bit of hacking, so you will come across a good few with fairly high mileage. They do tend to get driven a lot.If you happen on one with low mileage, my advice is to snap it up.
I have liked the 1.4-litre diesel in the Toyota Auris or Corolla for a long time now.
It remains one of the outstanding performers in terms of drive and frugality.
The older Auris wasn't everyone's cup of tea but it will go forever, while the Corolla . . . well the name says so much about it.
And you can't overlook what a decent Volkswagen Golf with a 1.9-litre diesel would do for you.
So you see, without stretching too far at all, you have a decent selection of good used saloons at your disposal.
Estates are also useful options for the farming sector because you have immediate access to a bigger load area, and you can fold the rear seats for mega space.
And many of the cars I've just outlined have estate versions.
They are not as popular here as they are on the continent though there are signs of an increase in buying.
Still convinced you need a commercial 4x4?
Either way now, with our run-through of the commercials and this skip through small-family motors, I hope we have provided you with some food for thought.
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