Tuesday 27 June 2017

Hold on for now or change? Electric or petrol for six? My first small car?

Aather and son charging their electric car
Aather and son charging their electric car

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car

I drive a Peugeot 508 1.6 HDi, 2011-reg Active. I bought it in 2012; it was a distributor's demo with fewer than 10,000km. I now have almost 190,000km up (I'm doing about 40,000km a year). I'm considering changing it, due to mileage and current value. It hasn't given me any problems. It's economical and I love it for its comfort. Is this a good time to change it or should I just 'drive it into the ground'? I would have around €12,000-€14,000 as well as trade-in value to spend. I'd probably look for a distributor's demo car again as I find them good value for money. Is there any other car I should be looking at that would give me as good if not better economy? I've looked at the new Mondeo but I am not mad about the big blind spot at the rear pillars.

Aidan: Change now. With your annual mileage, you might soon encounter some usage-related issues that dent the cost effectiveness of your trusty 508. Furthermore, while there is no hard evidence that breaking the 200,000km barrier has detrimental effects on residual values when compared to one with 190,000 km, it could be a psychological barrier for many buyers.

More importantly, it could affect your cost-to-change in a dealership. By my reckoning, you will need all of the upper end of your budget to buy a similar machine. Maybe a bit with it, too; model depending. I think you are better off focusing on something that will last the pace and I don't see too much reason to change from the 508. A revised model was released last year so if you can find an ex-demo, then it seems like a sensible move that isn't entirely lateral. Peugeot pushed the Allure model heavily in 2016, which I think was a sensible move as it safeguards a lot of high-spec machines for used car buyers in years to come. Smart move.

You seem to want a change, though, so look at the Mazda6 2.2 litre diesel in Platinum trim. You will probably need to drop back to a 2015 plate because the Mazda6 is a dearer car than the 508 and after one year, it still retains a lot of its premium. Stunning car with loads of goodies, and despite its engine size, the Mazda6 is frugal because it has a big engine doing less work on long trips.

Nothing wrong with the Mondeo, if you can get past your own personal gripe with the 'C' pillars. Go for the 2.0 litre diesel version. Its price premium above the 1.6 and 1.5 litre diminishes on the used car market and I reckon you will benefit from having something with more torque; perhaps not in fuel efficiency but certainly in comfort and driveability. Hyundai's five-year unlimited mileage warranty could pay dividends for you so look at the i40. Arguably a little dated now, but it's still an excellent proposition for you.

Eddie: I'm tempted to say 'drive it into the ground' because realistically you have little to lose. The car isn't worth that much so you are as likely get another cheap year's driving out of it.

However, you do run the risk of something costly going wrong so the responsible thing is to change now. The new 508 is a vast improvement and that's where you should look as you're likely to get a better deal at a Peugeot dealership. Also take a look at a Skoda Superb. You'll probably have to go for the old model but you might scrape into the new one if you can dig up a few grand more. Well worth considering. Bite the bullet and change.

We are a family of six - mum, dad and four girls (18, 11 ,4, 1). I live 2km from work so walking is an option except for dragging the youngest three and dropping off to Montessori on the way. Dad has a company van for his commute. We have an 07 Toyota Corolla Verso, 1.6 petrol. We did contemplate buying a new Qashqai+2 and are delighted not to have as the Verso has been well used and not very well cared for on the inside over the past two years. We use it for dropping and collecting, short trips to supermarket, etc and it has rarely been used for a journey longer than one hour. It is, however, rare that the six members of the family are in it at the one time. For this reason we have been contemplating an electric car. I figure the amount we spend on tax and petrol would amount to the repayments on an electric car - plus an initial outlay. Are there any 7-seat electric cars on the market? Is there a grant available for buying an electric car? Do you think an electric car would be suitable for our family? If not, could you give us your views? Our budget would be around €30,000 max. I could stretch so long as the car would pay me back in the long run.

Aidan: The grants on electric cars are already accounted for in the prices advertised so you don't need the calculator. As for fully electric seven seaters, I can't think of anything other than the Nissan e-NV200 but it's a niche machine and probably a special order. Check with your local dealer about that.

You definitely do not need a diesel but the majority of seven seaters are most readily available in diesel. However, you don't need a seven seater, or at least, so rarely that you might do well enough without one. So, that brings in regular electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf. And yet, you need to be careful when downsizing. Space is one of those things where it is better to look at it than look for it. I reckon you might do well in a Toyota Prius+ (5+2 seats). It is a bit more money so look for a 2016 model instead.

I can't help but think that one of the current crop of fuel efficient petrol cars remains the right fit for you. Look at the new Peugeot 3008 SUV; also, the 1.2 litre petrol Renault Kadjar and the new SEAT Ateca with its 1.4 TSi petrol engine in SE trim are good options. I reckon you should go big and stick with petrol.

Eddie: Forget looking for an electric 7-seater and buy a petrol one. You have four children. Growing children. You are going to need more and more space even if only five of you are in the car at the same time. And what about their school/sports bags and equipment as the years roll on? They take up space too. I'd buy a Ford Grand C-MAX (7-seats) with the 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine or the Peugeot 5008 7-seater with the 1.2-litre petrol or a Volkswagen Touran 1.2-litre petrol. That way you get occasional 7-seating and a petrol engine. Not everybody's choice but they, and the Prius+ are your best bets, new or used.

I am 23 and have been promoted recently. I have a daily commute of 30kms (60km total) and thanks to a neighbour have been lucky enough to get a lift. But he is now moving companies and it looks like I'll have to find myself a set of wheels. I have a budget of about €10,000, a full driving licence and parking at work. What would you advise? I know nothing about cars so I am trusting you to point me in the right direction.

Aidan: Ordinarily, I would advise anyone in your position to buy a Mazda2. However, it has a 1.3 litre petrol engine and I reckon it could impact on your insurance costs. Get some quotes first and check if it is affordable. If not, then look out for the first wave of returning PCP deals involving the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen up!. Some will mature this year and you will probably get one, your insurance, tax, and fair few fills of the petrol tank out of your budget. You can buy a touch screen display for all three of them (they are essentially the same cars but with different badges), which provides sat nav and Bluetooth.

The Hyundai i10 has more interior trimmings than the others I mentioned so it is worth pursuing. If you want something with more bulk around you (depending on the nature of your commute), then go for the first of the new-shape 2013 Renault Clios in Dynamique spec.

Eddie: You won't go wrong with any of Aidan's suggestions but I'd add the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 (similar cars, different badge/looks). There is plenty of choice. Check with main dealers in your area. That will help narrow the field and make your choice easier. Don't forget you will need a good few euro to cover insurance, tax etc so stick with your €10,000 limit - it's easy to be tempted to spend a bit more.

Help us help you

We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all on this page due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email too. You can really 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).

ecunningham@independent.ie

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