Changing Mondeo? Does '3' add up? Which crossover? Me and my dog?
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'.
I'm driving a 152-reg 1.6-litre diesel Ford Mondeo Zetec with 26,000km on the clock. When purchased this was our main family car. However, we had a new addition to the family this year and fitting three seats wasn't really possible in the Mondeo. This resulted in us trading in my wife's Ford Focus and purchasing a new Opel Zafira on PCP. I'm also much closer to work than before, so my mileage this year is 10,000km lower in the past year. As a result the Zafira is now the main car for family outings or at weekends. My Mondeo is doing even lower mileage than before. We still need two cars because though I could cycle to work, family life means there are several occasions where I would need to do drop-offs and pick-ups etc. I feel my diesel Mondeo is really being under-used now and wonder if I should look for something different. Typically I would've changed cars every 3-4 years. I'm puzzled about what my best options are now. My budget would be €30-€35K including the Mondeo trade-in. I don't really want to go down in size and I'm reluctant to go electric. I don't necessarily need to go new next time around but don't really want to go older than 152 and think diesel is not practical for me. I always wanted an Audi A6 and was considering looking for a three-year-old one, but that would mean going diesel again, which doesn't make sense. What are my best options?
Aidan: In some respects, this is a 'needs' versus 'wants' consideration. Strictly speaking, you do not need a diesel car. You did at one point and now that's what you have and other than its fuel type the Mondeo is the ideal second family car for you. You obviously liked the Mondeo enough to buy it and it is still under warranty and, I suspect, in excellent condition. You don't need it, but you don't really need to change it either. Not just yet anyway. However, we typically advise that to keep a diesel running smoothly, it needs ample opportunity to blow off its particulate build-up, and it sounds like you're not going to fulfil that requirement. Additionally, you want a premium car, but the thing with used premium cars is that they tend to be diesels. The fuel-type debate has reignited once again and the problem I find is that new Euro6 engines are being lumped into the same bracket as old smoky diesels. It's a bit unjustified. Anyway, you want to change so look at a Lexus IS300h - a petrol hybrid. Go for a 161-plate Executive or S-Design model but favour an Executive. Hybrid might work well for you, but with such low mileage a straightforward petrol is probably just as good. I like the Mercedes C200 Avantgarde automatic. Depending on the deal, a 152 or even a 161-plate could be on the cards.
Eddie: Did you know there is a petrol 1.5-litre petrol (EcoBoost) in the Mondeo? I think it might be the car for you because you still get the size, you'll get the added benefit of trading in a Ford and your low mileage will be better accommodated with a petrol (it's no slouch by the way with 160bhp). I'm not a mad fan, but the Mondeo is a much better car than it is given credit for. Your budget will easily get you into a new one. I think you'll lose by holding on because, regardless of mileage, your car will be a year older/less valuable. There are some big deals doing the rounds. This might be the time to strike. Also check out the 1.4-litre petrol in the Volkswagen Passat - it's a really nice car.
Annual mileage: 10,000km. Budget 10,000km to 12,000km. Present car Mazda3 hatchback (2010, 96,000km). I'd love to get something the same size or a little bigger with just one previous owner. What is your advice?
Aidan: Ample choice will be your only limitation. The Toyota Auris is always a safe bet because they sold well as petrol cars even when most people switched their attention to diesel, but for something a bit different look for a 131-plate, last of the old model Skoda Octavia 1.2 or 1.4 TSi petrols. It's the only car that will give your Mazda3 a good run for its money in terms of space. A Kia cee'd is worth a close look; go for an EX version. The Kia should have a decent bit of manufacturer warranty left, too. A Nissan Qashqai won't give you much more space, but will give you a taller seating position and is good value for money as they are in steady enough supply. You should find 2012 models are on budget, but you might just squeeze into a 2013-plate.
Eddie: My answer is simple and Aidan agrees with me, I know. Look closely at a Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost. If not happy with that, then consider a Honda Civic petrol. But I think the Focus is your car.
I'm in my early forties, single, female and drive a Toyota Auris (2014) 1.4 diesel. I'm looking to spend €30,000 on a smart SUV. What should I do? Sell the car privately or trade it in? What models would you suggest I consider? I drive 15,000km a year now, but that will increase as I may be driving to Cork on weekends more frequently.
Aidan: Start with the intention of using your car as a trade-in. Some people don't view a seamless transaction in commercial terms. The time and effort you spend selling the car privately has a cost, and you might find the sums work just fine by trading in. Plates from 2014 plates are sought after, so give a dealer a crack. You arguably didn't need a diesel to begin with, but you can make a case for a diesel now you are racking up more motorway kilometres. So, let me stick to diesels and Eddie gives you an alternative route in case you need still something for short commutes. Start with the Toyota Rav4. You will benefit from dealing with a Toyota dealer again. It might be a tad big, but it's a lovely machine. Enquire about an ex-demo Luna or Luna Sport. If the RAV4 is too big, opt for a Honda HR-V. It has a lovely 1.6 i-DTEC engine and sharp styling. Go for the ES model.
Eddie: I agree with Aidan and reckon you'll do best sticking with a Toyota. I'd suggest you go for the new C-HR crossover. It may be a little restricted (and darkish) in the rear, but I understand the back seats will be rarely in use. It is a hugely stylish car with either a 1.8 hybrid or 1.2 petrol turbo. You might have to add a smidgeon to your budget to get the Luna Sport version, but Toyota have an aggressive 172-sales campaign going, so your current limit may work. Trading in your current car is the best bet I think.
I'm 35 and I'd love to buy a new car but can't afford it. I'd love one of the Volkswagen Beetles I see. There's only me and my dog. I just wonder, would there be room for him? He's a large, loveable Labrador. I commute a round-trip of 50km a day in my 2005 Fiesta. What would you advise?
Aidan: Properly restraining your lovable Lab takes priority. Recently Eddie has written about transporting animals safely so I encourage you to seek out his articles on the topic. As for the Beetle, perhaps it is fine for accommodating a Labrador (honestly, I don't know for certain), but I think you'd be better off with something with five doors and electric windows in the rear so the woofer can sniff what's going on. Also, make sure you buy a heavy duty, waterproof seat cover. Nothing worse than trying to hoover up dog hair out of cloth seats. And you can kiss goodbye to your cars residual value if it develops the smell of wet dog. You don't provide a budget so let's just play it safe and go for a mainstream model with some nice kit like a touchscreen radio, Bluetooth and a multifunction leather steering wheel; a VW Golf or Hyundai i30. Something like that. Or maybe even a Honda Civic.
Eddie: Forget the Beetle. Think of safety. Do you know if your dog is not properly restrained he could be flung forward at phenomenal velocity and seriously injure you or a passenger if you stop suddenly? I'm sorry to be blunt, but safety first. Buy a Skoda Fabia (estate) or a larger Kia cee'd estate. Have a grille fitted that keeps your dog secured in the cargo area only and lets you maintain the cabin and boot as separate regions. Otherwise you are setting up for trouble.
JUST TO SAY
We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all queries in as full a manner as this 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).