New car for my new job? Big mileage, two car seats? An automatic SUV?
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 recently accepted a new job on the outskirts of Dublin. I plan to move from my current city centre location and commute on the M7 and M50 (110km round trip).
I currently walk to work and only use the car sparingly (2006 Nissan Micra 1.2 auto, 80,000km). I have a budget of up to €20,000 and am leaning towards a hatchback such as a VW Golf or a small saloon such as a VW Jetta or Skoda Octavia. Car must be automatic due to my licence and with the time spent in the car I would ideally look to have a high spec.
I have read my best option is to sell my Nissan privately and buy a one-or-two-year old with low mileage (<20,000 miles) and then look to sell in two years before it reaches 60,000km to minimise depreciation. I am more interested in strong resale values, reliability and running costs as opposed to a particular badge etc. Ideally looking for something 55-60mpg plus.
I have looked at approved used cars from the VW and Skoda websites in the UK and there seems to be some value even with the exchange rate and VRT. Would the approved used car benefits transfer to Ireland if I were to import something? PCP doesn't seem to suit me.
Aidan: Congratulations on your new job. You have quite a bit of your homework done already. However, I don't quite subscribe to the theory that you should shift the machine once it hits 60,000 miles (100,000 kms). A clean car, with a full service record and 110,000kms is every bit as desirable and potentially worth as much as an ordinary 100,000 kilometre car with a patchy past. So don't cross any bridges until you come to them.
Considering you need an automatic, I think something from the VW stable is best. Their DSG gearboxes are brilliant. What about a SEAT Leon? If you care most about value for money then the Leon will deliver on that front. It usually starts out a little cheaper than its rivals but tends not to continue losing ground and so it holds quite impressive residuals. The current shape Leon was released in March 2013 so look for one of those. Any of the run-out Copa Plus models will have loads of kit but it's always nice to have the latest thing.
A Skoda Octavia would make for a great purchase too. Again, 2013 heralded a new model (May) so keep your eyes peeled for differences in shapes in that year. Ambition models should have everything you need but if you can stretch to an Elegance then you will get a bit more kit.
Then, there's the Golf, and guess when the new model Golf 7 arrived? Yep, 2013. It was out in January so you should have loads of choice. Even the last of the old model 2012 Match Golfs would make a great buy. In fact, you might find that automatic versions of the VW group models will render 2012s a more realistic purchase but stretching that little bit buys you a newer model and that will help things further down the road. Of course there are other options but I think you've got more than enough choice with those three.
Eddie: In addition to Aidan's suggestions let me suggest a Toyota Auris/Corolla (vastly underrated cars). Get a 1.4-litre diesel and you won't have fuel, mileage or trade-in worries.
I'm also suggesting a Ford Focus. Good cars and in keen demand. Excellent diesels. Often overlooked too is the Peugeot 308 - it has a five-year warranty. Lots of spec and fine diesels. I just feel, after all that, the Toyotas are closest to what you specifically need. I wouldn't bother with importing at this stage.
I am in a total quandary about changing my car. Can you help me? I have a VW Jetta with 185,000km and need to change. Due to the high mileage I am only getting between €6k and €8k (€8k is from VW dealer) as a trade in.
I have no particular hang ups about makes/models as long as the car is reliable (I travel 60km round trip to work every day), economical, fairly stylish and has a decent back seat (two child seats need to fit with a passenger) and fairly large boot.
I have looked at Hyundai, Renault, Ford, Dacia, Toyota and I am confused now about what is my best option. I was wondering would I be better off to buy a long warranty car on finance from a dealer?
How often should I change my car considering my mileage and the consequent high depreciation in value? I'm desperately confused and open to suggestions.
Aidan: Cars are depreciating assets and mileage is a catalyst that accelerates this. So, first and foremost, I think it would be best to get something that you are happy with.
Concerning the best time to trade the car in; well that's a tricky one and depending on market factors, is subject to change. But all things being equal, my take on it is that you; and I am focusing purely on you, should hold onto the car for at least three years. By covering 37,000kms a year, you could be penalised if you trade in a one or two year old car.
A high mileage, fresh plate car will always suffer against equivalent models will lower mileage. Better to wait a few years and allow the car to drop in price and into a value bracket where the used buyers are less discerning. You would be amazed at how many people will spend €10,000 for one car but won't be able to stretch to €11,500 to buy a car that is a year younger and with lower mileage. Honestly, that's how tight the gaps in values are in today's market.
Now, what to buy? I reckon a Hyundai i30 would make a sensible purchase. Try to get an SW (estate) version. The Hyundai warranty extends to five years and unlimited mileage and even after that, I have not come across any sinister problems with ones outside of warranty. Same goes for the Kia cee'd. It has a 7-year warranty and expires after 150,000 kms, which should give you lots of peace of mind driving.
The Toyota Corolla 1.4 D4D is a sound option, too. It's got a good engine and the whole package can take a bit of abuse. As with the previous reader, a SEAT Leon ST (estate) would be ideal.
Eddie: First things first. You need room for two child seats. You need to know your outlays - and they include depreciation. They are the immovables. You are a bit dazed, I feel, by all the facts and factors so let me call it for you. I'm going to suggest you buy a Nissan Qashqai diesel. Because you need two child seats now and will need lots more space as the children, please God, grow. The Qashqai will give you flexibility, good MPG, lovely driving position, good spec, plenty of comfort and will hold value as well as anything.
I am looking for your advice on what car to change to. I have a 151D Kia Sportage with about 15,500km which I love but I really need to change back to an automatic as I have knee problems. I play golf and required a big boot. I mainly do city driving. I like the SUV look and height - any suggestions?
Aidan: The Sportage is a beauty alright. However, if you want an automatic then you need to opt for the new 2.0 litre diesel and that sounds like too much car for you. You will also have to pay a premium for the 2.0 engine.
What about a Qashqai? It has a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), which some people find takes quite a bit of getting used to but it will rest your leg from having to depress the clutch.
Another option is the Renault Kadjar with the EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) gearbox. On price alone, this is a worthy contender. The automatic box works by using two half clutches. One looks after the odd numbered gears; with the other taking care of the even numbered ones. You drive it just like an automatic. There is an entry level Expression+ model but I think the premium of €1,500 or so for the Dynamique Nav model is worth the extra outlay. If you don't add any more equipment to one, you could just sneak a new one for €30,000. Used ones with the auto transmission will be rare.
Eddie: I'd take a look at the Puegeot 2008 if I were you. It's a decent crossover/SUV. They have just revised it for July-reg-sales. They will have two 'automatics'. One is a new 6spd. It adds around €1,700. The other is an inexpensive but highly effective electronically controlled alternative called ETG5. The other reason I suggest the 2008 is that it has an excellent petrol 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine that is ideal for your smaller, around-town mileage. Give it a try.
JUST TO SAY
We love getting your enquiries but can't reply to them all 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).