Desperate to change? Jazz up your options? Time to trade in Corolla?
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 have a Mazda 5, 2007, 1.8-litre petrol, 120,000km. Weekly mileage is 350km-400km, €70 at the pumps. Road tax €165 every three months. Thinking outside the box I came across the Lexus hybrid CT200h. My budget is €10k plus trade-in. We're a family of five. I'm desperate to change as the costs are too much.
Aidan: The CT200h was launched in 2011. The first of them in Executive trim is about as far as your budget will stretch. Perhaps a 2012 is within reach but it is better to buy something with low mileage and with as comprehensive a service record as possible. You will have more choice if you opt for a Prius. 2012 Luxury models should be attainable. The hybrid option could work out well for you, but you won't know until you squeeze in the family and test it out. The Prius is roughly the same size as an Avensis, so from arm's length the size sounds workable. Low tax, low running costs, and a solid performer - the Prius is Toyota's baby. The company loves it and builds it in their factory in Japan. Not that their other factories aren't to the same exacting standards but there is something so reassuring about a Toyota that is built in Japan. Maybe it is just me but there is no doubting the robustness and reliability of the Prius. They go forever. Sticking with Toyota, keep on the lookout for a 1.6 petrol Verso. They are rare but the Luna model is nicely kitted and you will retain the MPV size but potentially reduce running costs.
Covering around 20,000km annually means you could have some success in a diesel. You will certainly have way more options. Again with the Verso, a 2.0 litre diesel would be fine and you should get a 2010/2011 Luna model. The Ford C-Max gets overlooked too frequently, but it costs only a little more than a Focus and will give you way more practicality. The Grand C-Max has seven seats, in case you decide you don't want to sacrifice so much space from the Mazda5. All of the smaller options are fine in theory, but you don't want to downsize to the point where the car is impractical. Be sure to bring all the kids bits with you when testing the cars in order to appropriately determine what is right.
Eddie: You're going absolutely nowhere buying a Lexus CT200 for a family of five. Forget it. I understand your desperation to get out from under the 1.8-litre petrol but don't magnify your difficulties. Buy a Prius hybrid or one of the diesels Aidan suggests. With 20,000km a year you'll benefit from a diesel. Let me think outside another box for you - how about a Dacia Duster crossover with a 1.5-litre diesel? You'll certainly get a 131-reg on your combined budget.
My wife is looking to trade in her current car, a 2007 Suzuki Swift 1.3Gl petrol version (with 73,500km on the clock) against a new (preferably 5dr) petrol model in the €190 to €200 road tax bracket. She wants a reliable, safe and economical runaround for mainly urban driving with good interior room and decent boot space to hold a set of golf clubs. I happened to be passing a garage recently and noticed a 5dr 90bhp hatchback petrol Corsa SC1.4 with an on-the-road price of €17,820. Subject to viewing the Suzuki, the salesman was prepared to offer €5,000 against the new Corsa leaving a change price of roughly €12,820. What do you think of the car? Would you recommend it strongly? Alternative models which we're considering are the 5dr 75bhp Renault Clio 1.2 Expression, 5dr 75bhp 1.2 Dynamique (which my wife thinks are lovely looking cars), the Hyundai I10 1.0 Deluxe and i20 1.0 Deluxe, the 5dr 60bhp Polo Trendline and 75bhp version, the Honda Jazz 1.3VTEC and the 5dr 68bhp 1.0 Peugeot 208 and 5dr 82bhp 1.2 Peugeot Puretech Access. Based on your knowledge and experience of these cars, which one would you recommend - would you lean strongly towards one particular model? Sorry to put you on the spot but, as a long-term reader/follower and admirer of your motoring column, I would really value and appreciate your considered opinion in this matter. By the way, we would hope to limit the changeover cost to roughly €12,500 to €13,000.
Aidan: There is quite a lot to tackle here so I will corral the options and marshal them into their best specification/engine combination, leaving Eddie to point his finger at whichever ones he thinks suits you best. Right, first up. Forget the i10. It's not in the same segment as the others and I wouldn't fancy squeezing golf clubs into the back. Great car mind you. The Corsa is a lovely machine. You are absolutely on the right track with the 1.4 SC model. That is precisely the one to choose. The Clio is smashing. Lovely interior and great quality. Forget the Expression model. Your wife is right, the Dynamique not only looks better but it sells better, too. Like the Corsa, the Clio has a nippy little engine so it would more than capable of absorbing golf clubs and perhaps an electric trolley, although the clubs would be better on the back seat with the trolley going in the boot. Can't fault the Peugeot 208 but skip past the Access model and go for an Active version instead. The 1.2 litre engine in the 208 performs sweetly but the 1.0 litre suits quite a few drivers so have a spin in both if you can.
I like the Jazz and always have done. I regularly recommend it and I'm nodding very strongly in its favour for your wife. Sure, it's a bit pricier than the others but they make a bomb on the used market so it should be treated kindly when you trade it back in. There are some very attractive offers on the VW Polo that merit serious consideration. Most go for the 1.0 litre Trendline model but VW have been upgrading them with a lot of goodies recently so have a word with your dealer to see what can be done.
Eddie: Buy the Jazz. You won't go wrong with any of the others. They are excellent, really. But the Jazz is the one for you.
We have two cars: a 141 Toyota Corolla saloon diesel (63,000km) and a Corolla petrol saloon 2005 (176,000km). We were thinking of updating my wife's car to new as she does more mileage (that would cost €7,500-€9,000) but would you recommend updating my car? So far so good it's trouble free and relatively cheap to fix, tax and insure it (I've owned it from day one which seems to matter to the insurance companies when quoting to date but that may change). I was thinking of upgrading my car to a hybrid, but they seem overly expensive compared to petrol models - the reason for hybrid is I could run on a battery model for 4-5 days easily. But I could need petrol for longer journeys. Our family of two won't expand so five seats is fine.
Aidan: The difficulty with cars over 10 years old is that insurance companies are increasingly loading the premiums for new business quotations. Some won't even quote new business on them so the market for your car has become less popular in the past few months. If it isn't causing you any trouble then there is no harm hanging onto it for a while longer in order to get some more driving out of it. My only concern is with 176,000km you are heading into replacing wear and tear items that don't negatively reflect the car's reliability but rather, are a sign of aging. A hybrid is a good choice if you are doing small mileage but another frugal petrol car would be just as fine. With no intentions of pushing the Toyota brand any more than is warranted, a 1.33 Auris would be a fine purchase and will represent very cost effective motoring in its own right. Check with your Toyota dealer if they will do you a good deal on trading both cars in at the same time. That's where I would start.
Eddie: Your wife's diesel is a straightforward upgrade to 171 for next year. The mileage is decent and Corollas do well on the secondhand market so she'll be fine. You've obviously got good service from Toyota so, yes, she should change to new. Your petrol isn't worth much to trade-in. If it is not giving trouble I'd hold on for another year. That way you lose nothing by way of depreciation and don't have two big changes at the same time. You've obviously minded it well so get another year's 'bonus' out of it.
JUST TO SAY
Welove 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).