Wednesday 26 April 2017

Buying a new car: does it add up? Small car for son. Prius v Avensis.

Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car
Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.

People keep telling me to buy a new car because it is cheaper to run and will pay for itself against a secondhand one over three years. I can see their reasoning but look at the depreciation on a new car and surely the equation changes a lot. I have an 07 Fiesta with 112,000 miles on the clock. If I was to change I'd look at something like a Golf or Focus because I need a bigger car now. But how would the figures stack up on a new one? I'm worried because I only have €8,000 and a new car would cost more than that. I could manage repayments of €350/month.

Aidan: There is much talk about the medium to long term financial benefits of new cars; indeed far more than there used to be. Quite honestly, it depends on each deal and no blanket rule applies.

The used car market is strong now. This means anyone who bought a desirable car in the last couple of years is benefitting from a relatively short supply of quality used cars and their cost to change to a new model is much less than it has been for some time.

You shrewdly alluded to the impact depreciation has on the cost of vehicle ownership and, regardless of how good things are now, drops at the new end are inherently greater than they are at the bottom end.

Furthermore, with €8,000 you won't be spoiled for choice with low mileage, high-quality used cars. And if you can afford €350 per month you can certainly get into a fresh model. I think there is a happy medium here.

Why not look at a one-year-old VW Golf? Do some homework on PCP agreements. The first owner has already taken the initial hit but you get a fresh car. There is still plenty of warranty left on a one-year-old too.

Take a look at the petrol if you don't cover big mileage. It was cheaper to buy new, drives just as well as the diesel and is cost effective on fuel and tax. With a healthy deposit, you should finance a one-year-old Golf for less than €350 per month.

The same goes for the SEAT Leon. It is from the same family as the Golf but it is priced more aggressively. Ford Focus petrols are a little less common but if you cover enough mileage then a 1.6 TDCi Zetec would be ideal.

To round out a healthy selection, the Toyota Auris has a lovely 1.33 petrol engine and has been selling well in higher specification Luna and Sol trims.

Eddie: Lots of dealers have trade-up deals. You could not have picked a better time in a way. My advice is play the market like hell for new or 'newsed'. Any dealer who lets you go is a) at the limit of what they can do or b) not worth dealing with. Trust me, you're in a strong position.

I have a son who needs to drive an automatic small car to get around in Dublin but does few long trips. He can now afford to buy a new car. He was thinking of a Hyundai i10 but it does not appear to be particularly economical. Hyundai automatics seem to be particularly thirsty. The road tax on an i20 auto is €390 which seems crazy given that it is €200 on a Mercedes B-Class diesel. He is not too keen on a CVT transmission as he had a Fiesta with CVT previously and it gave quite a bit of trouble. Any advice?

Aidan: I would not rule out the i20 entirely based on its motor tax. It is an excellent machine and the 5-year warranty is worth a few hundred euros a year in itself.

The i20 is a big supermini. It straddles superminis and family hatchbacks. However, I think the Toyota Yaris Hybrid is perfect for your son. In Luxury trim, it retails at almost exactly the same price as an automatic Deluxe model i20.

Furthermore, the Yaris sits in tax band A1 (€170 motor tax). It is perfectly suitable for city driving and costs little to run. Its batteries are complemented by a 1.5 litre petrol engine which produces 100bhp - the same as the Hyundai i20 automatic.

As another option, the new Skoda Fabia is impressive. The DSG gearbox is about as good as automatics come. A 1.2 TSi Ambition model starts at €19,295, which is around €1,300 cheaper than the Yaris and i20. It would be excellent in city conditions. Motor tax is €190 and it should be frugal as it shares the same engine as the other TSi models in the VW group.

You also mentioned the Hyundai i10 but this is quite a bit smaller than the i20 et al. However, if a city car is suitable, then take a close look at the SEAT Mii in SE trim. It is essentially the same as the Skoda Citigo and VW up! but costs a little less.

Eddie: I've a feeling the Volkswagen up! might fit your bill. It is roomy and rock solid, well specced, has a 75bhp 1-litre petrol (€190 tax) engine and a 5spd ASG transmission. This lets you drive in automatic mode but you can manually shift gears as well. And there's a keen PCP deal (1.9pc APR). It's smaller than the i20 which I think is an excellent motor now but does your son need that size of car?

I drive a 2011 Ford C-MAX 1.6 diesel which has 100,000kms. I wish to move up by 2-3 years. I like the car but it seems expensive to change. Any suggestion about other cars? Budget €8,000 and I need a tall car. My average mileage is 30,000km a year - mostly country driving.

Aidan: I assume your budget excludes trading in your car. If that is the case, I think it is prudent to work with a budget in the late teens.

Take a close look at the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso. You should get one of the last of the 2013 models in Edition specification. This is tall, spacious and practical and families love it. Spec levels and driving position are excellent.

If you do not need a seven-seater, then watch out for one of the rare five-seat Picassos. The Grand holds a premium over the regular model so this will help your budget too. However, if you can, do stretch to the Grand.

The Peugeot 3008 is a sensible option too. It has a 1.6-litre diesel that will perform similarly to your C-MAX. It sold best in Active trim, which adds quite a few tasty features. The boot has a split tailgate, which makes loading and unloading much easier. If my assessment of your budget is accurate, then 2013 models are certainly within your grasp.

Eddie: Funny enough I've just driven the facelifted C-Max (5-and-7-seater) and I wonder if you wouldn't get a better deal by sticking with Ford. It is a fair improvement. Could you manage a PCP? If you can't I think you'll still do better trading like for like. I also like the Toyota Verso.

I have a straight question. Which should I buy: A Toyota Prius or a Toyota Avensis diesel - I hear there is a new one coming later in the summer? I have €30,000 budget and am driving an 06 Corolla with 120,000 miles. We have two children (10 and 12). I will be borrowing half the money from my credit union. It will be our only car. We live in the country and the nearest town is five miles.

Aidan: I'm afraid I cannot reciprocate with a similarly straight answer because not only is there an updated Avensis coming shortly, there is also a new Prius not too far off. The signs look good. There will be a new 1.6 D4D engine that has been designed in conjunction with BMW. It also looks handsome.

The present model is a little cheaper than the Prius but don't forget the Prius is automatic. The five-mile trip into town could conceivably not cost you a cent with the Prius but if the rest of your driving is covered over long stretches then a diesel Avensis will even that argument out. I think you should wait until the Avensis arrives and then drive both cars back-to-back. Hopefully by that time, more concrete details will have emerged about the Prius, too.

Eddie: Let a couple or three dealers make you an offer on the current Prius and 'new' Avensis and see where the euro fall. There isn't much between them but you really have to wait for the new Avensis to make any decision no matter what deal you're offered on the existing one. They are worlds apart on looks alone. It's due here for the July 152-reg. The Prius is, effectively, for next year. Let the money decide for you.

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