Saturday 22 October 2016

Car for new-job commute? PCP or not PCP? Three child seats please?

Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30

A new arrival can change your car requirements.
A new arrival can change your car requirements.

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'.

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I need a small car for my son. He is 25 years old and starting a job on the north side of Dublin. We live in Kildare. He will commute from home because rents are so high. I will put €7,000 towards the price of the car and he will have €5,000. What would you advise please because I want him safe? His daily round trip is about 100kms. I would really appreciate your advice on this.

Aidan: The short answer is to buy the best, lowest mileage, most comprehensibly serviced diesel vehicle you can find from a dealer. That might not necessarily translate into the newest car your son can afford. Of course, in general, the younger the car the less likely it is to have higher mileage but I always find it best to shop with your budget leading the charge rather than a preconceived idea of the age of the vehicle.

Start with a Ford Focus 1.6 diesel. Your son's budget will sneak him into the first of the newer shape 2011 Edge models. However, if the last of the old shape 2011 (both were sold in that year) is available with a better back story, go that route. The older ones were called Style but were dressed up to be Zetec (higher grade) variants save for a centre arm rest. The Focus has a great engine and cheap parts.

A Kia cee'd would make a fine choice, too. The last of the older shape 1.6 diesels from 2012 might be on the cards here, but a low mileage 2011 certainly should be. A properly minded 2012 will still have warranty until 2019 (or 150,000kms, whichever comes first).

Eddie and I recommend this one a lot but the Toyota Auris 1.4 D4D takes some beating. Good engine, low running costs, cheap tax, and wickedly good resale values. Your son might find that a higher specification, old model Sport version (they ran until 2012) is a little out of budget so it is better to drop the specification into a Terra model and buy a fresher machine.

The Mazda3 is often overlooked but owners tend to remain loyal and really look after their cars (I am one of those owners). The 1.6 diesel engine is the same as in the Ford and if your son maintains it properly, it will devour that long commute.

Lastly the Volvo C30 might suit. It is only a three door but that probably won't inconvenience him much. It has a lovely 1.6 diesel engine. Whatever you choose, please make sure your son parks a few hundred euros aside each year for a comprehensive service; not just an oil change every now and again. He will rack up high mileage and there are more important components that need checking than just the oil filter.

Eddie: I think Aidan kindly left me a few others to suggest because really there is a huge selection such as the Hyundai i30, Peugeot 308, Opel Astra etc. But I have to mention the Skoda Octavia. If taxi drivers love it and they are doing more than 100kms a day I suspect your son would have few worries on longevity. It's hard-wearing and the diesels are mean on fuel. I also suggest, as Aidan has, the Toyota Auris 1.4D4D. If you can get a Mazda3 you would do well to snap it up. Finally you might sneak into a reasonably new Volkswagen Golf. But I'll put my neck on the line and go for the Auris - or the Octavia (if you want more boot space).

Thank you for your wonderful help and advice each week. I know you have covered it before but I'd like your advice on getting a PCP. I am offered a Passat at 2.9pc. I have €30,000 with the credit union and could use that to buy instead. I don't know what to do because I am not used to buying a new car (I have given my Nissan Primera to my brother). Would I be better off buying the car myself and owning it? I am 60-years-old and recently took early retirement.

Aidan: When it comes to financing a car, all that I am comfortable doing is outlining how each loan product works. PCP is a relatively new product here. I can not stress the importance of the first letter of the acronym enough. It stands for 'personal', and that is exactly what a PCP or any other finance product ultimately is; a personal decision.

There is loads to read and discuss with your dealer. Before anything is signed, you are presented with a GMFV (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value). This forms part of the equation needed to calculate your monthly repayments. And it is used as a baseline figure for calculating your equity (if any) to carry into a fresh deal. There are various mileage and vehicle condition stipulations. One way or another, at the end of the loan agreement you will have to make a decision: hand the keys back, strike a new deal, or buy the car outright.

In this respect, PCP is a flexible finance product that allows you to avail of a low interest rate and kick to touch the decision to fully purchase the car. In your case, you are looking at the polar opposites in terms of vehicle purchase. Unless you buy the car at the end of the term, PCP means you will never own it. If you purchase the car on day one, you will own it but you will have spent all of that saved cash. Hire Purchase will allow you to place whatever deposit you want (PCP's maximum is typically 30pc), and finance the outstanding amount and take ownership at the end.

Eddie: You are being offered a car you will not own for 2.9pc for three years. How much interest are you getting on your money in the credit union? If you are getting more (net of tax) then one half of your question answers itself: holding on to your money gives you a better return. The opposite is true if you are getting less. The other half of the question is: are you prepared to give up ownership of the car you drive? PCP means you don't own it unless you buy it outright at the end of the three years. If you can say yes to both questions, go with the PCP deal. If not, buy it yourself. Best of luck.

I am looking for some advice. I have just had my third baby and currently drive a Renault Clio. It is a tight squeeze to fit in three car seats and I have little storage space once the buggy is in the boot. I am looking to change to something a little bigger but also economical as I don't want to have to spend a fortune on fuel and road tax. My current car is 2011 valued around €7,400 roughly and I would have an additional €3,000 to spend with it what would you recommend that would also be a reliable family car?

Aidan: You do not mention your annual mileage but if you are in a Clio (presumably petrol) then I will assume a petrol car will suffice.

Here we go again (honestly, I am not copping out and taking the easy route), but a Toyota Corolla is probably ideal for you. You should get into the first of the models with the 1.33 petrol engine, which is cheaper to tax than the older 1.4 litre version. Corollas have been responsible for ferrying families, buggies, and shopping around our shores for decades and that is a pivotal reason why I continue to recommend them. They just work; it's as simple as that. However, if you want something bigger then look at the Toyota Corolla Verso. It has a 1.6 litre petrol engine (and diesel versions, too) and should still be economical for you.

Petrol MPVs are rare (the Mazda5 is another but it has a 1.8 litre engine which might not suit you), and the Corolla Verso should serve you better than hatchback as your children grow up and the buggies are swapped for sports bags and equipment.

A 1.6 petrol Nissan Qashqai would be a sensible purchase, too. There will be no shortage of them either so you can probably shop around for the right one. Even entry level XE models look great and are decently equipped.

Eddie: You've got to go Crossover/SUV here with three child seats needed. You are going to need space, lots of it, as they grow. Fair dues for getting three into a Clio but I think for safety and comfort you have to think a couple of years ahead.

I agree with Aidan; I think there will be a decent choice of Nissan Qashqais; try a Peugeot 2008 too. The Opel Meriva is a bit small perhaps but might be a stepping stone for you while the Citroen Picasso has three seat-belt anchors on the second row. Just a word of warning. Please have someone really check out whatever car you are interested in. These models can take a lot of hard wear-and-tear from young families and rushed parents.


We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all of them in as full a manner as we'd like due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help us help you if you make sure to include the following critical elements in your query:

* Total budget.

* Annual mileage.

* Size of car required (number of seats).

* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).

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