Retiring and I want change; €50k sports car? Honda too low; €8,000 family car?
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 am a youngish lady retiring next year and looking to change my car. I drive a 1.6 automatic 0pel Astra, 4dr hatch petrol (2013). My yearly mileage is approximately 15,000km.
My requirements for a new car are for one that is stylish and smart looking. I have between €10,000 and €15,000 to spend. I want an automatic, 4dr with low road tax; a 1.2-litre engine would be sufficient. Petrol or diesel - I don't mind.
Aidan: I presume your budget excludes the value of your trade in; otherwise stick with what you've got as you will not replace it with anything better.
There is a new Astra on the horizon and it looks really smart. It is much lighter than before and that should equate to better fuel efficiency, lower CO2 and cheaper tax.
It will have a 1.4 petrol engine, which sounds like a lovely piece of kit but pricing has yet to be announced.
You will probably have more joy trading your Astra in for another one rather than bringing it to a rival brand.
However, keep an eye out for the new Toyota Auris arriving later this summer. It will have a 1.2 petrol engine that promises to be excellent.
After those suggestions, I tend to revert to my old favourites from the VW Group namely, the VW Golf and SEAT Leon. Both have excellent gearboxes, stylish bodies and lovely interiors. They also have 1.2 petrol engines that are fuel efficient and cheap to tax.
I think it would be a good idea to ask your local Opel dealer to talk you through the new Astra in more detail and then take everything from there.
You have lots of choice and it is easy to get stuck in a loop trying to figure out which car suits you best.
Eddie: I'm told the new Astra, here in October, will have pricing not too far off the current one so Aidan's advice is spot on with that and with the other models he mentions as well.
But let me stray a little, as I get the impression you want to switch. So try these: the Peugeot 308 or the Mazda3, a nicely specced Ford Focus, Hyundai i30 or Honda Civic. They're all stylish and have small petrol and diesel engines and are fresh.
However, I'm just not convinced you'll get as good a deal as trading in against the new Astra but give it a try.
I have a seven-year-old Honda Civic which I like a lot but it is too low to get into and I need to change. It has 70,000km, is spotless and regularly serviced. I need something that is easier to access. I'd buy something a year old or so ideally. And I'd want an automatic. Any advice?
Aidan: If you can manage with a slightly smaller car, then the Honda Jazz has a more upright driving position than the Civic. The new Jazz will arrive here shortly and I expect its release to be met with lots of trade-ins so now is a good time to enquire with Honda dealers about what they have lined up.
The little Nissan Juke has divisive styling but is a popular motor with a choice of 1.6 petrol or 1.5 diesel engines. Keep a watch out for high-specification SVE models. Mid-level SV trim is still plenty generous.
Then there is the Renault Captur. Petrols are rare. An early model 132 registered 1.5 dCi Intense model should set you back somewhere in the region of €17,000 depending on exact specification and mileage.
Expect a 141 plate to run closer to €19,000 to €20,000. I quite fancy Peugeot's 2008 would do the job for you. It is smart, has lots of room and a great seating position. A 132 plate 1.2 petrol Active model should come in somewhere close to €15,000 to €15,500. It also costs just €200 to tax per year and is quite fuel efficient.
Eddie: I've no doubt in the world the new Jazz would suit you down to the ground. It is roomier, upright and I think will address your difficulty of access and egress. The Hyundai ix20 'mini people carrier' is one that springs to mind as an alternative and is so easy to drive. As does the Kia Venga. There are automatic versions of these. But I still think the new Jazz is your car.
I've recently returned from London and want to buy a sports car. I have no trade-in and have €50,000 to spend. Any advice? I'd like a two-seater for my girlfriend and I. And a good boot for two golf bags.
Aidan: A sports car with a good boot is a bit of a misnomer but the Peugeot RCZ is about as generous as you will find. There is an ultra rare RCZR model which has a 1.6 THP turbo engine that produces 270bhp. It is the fastest road car Peugeot has made. It's a little saucy at over €50,000 new but it's an interesting car with lots of oomph and boot space.
Then there is the Audi TT but I think the boot might not be so accommodating.
However, the new model is stylish and the interior is nothing short of astonishing; especially if you fit the optional "virtual cockpit". Get a petrol one. The 2.0 TFSi with 230bhp is the way to go.
A used Porsche Cayman would be a lovely thing, too. It is not about out and out performance but the chassis is just so wonderfully balanced that you won't mind. Plus, it's a Porsche. And Porsches are just cool no matter what. There is something so lovely about a naturally aspirated straight-six that little compares with it.
For more room, keep your eye out for a one-year-old BMW 4 Series. Although technically not a sports car, it is a pretty coupe that will take your golf clubs, and it has more seats if you need them.
Eddie: I'm envious of your €50,000 to spend but could you stretch another €3,000 or €4,000? That would get you a new Mercedes SLK - lovely car though you won't get searing performance from the SLK200 petrol. Okay boot room might be a little squeeze - but it's lovely.
But why don't you try this? A 3dr/5dr VW Golf R (no boot worries there) with 300bhp, all-wheel-drive and DSG.
It will still leave you with a few thousand in your pocket (€46,000 or so for the 5dr top spec). Sensational car to drive and, relatively speaking, well priced now. I entreat you to try it.
Please tell me what to do. My old Nissan Primera is giving trouble and not worth repairing. I have three children and not much income left over when bills are paid but I need a car.
Could you help identify a good second-hand car for me under €8,000 or so please. I can borrow that from my credit union but don't want to get much more because I'd be afraid of not being able to meet repayments.
Aidan: I am no financial advisor but stick to your guns and don't overstretch on borrowing for a car. You will find a lovely Toyota Corolla or Auris for this money. Get the petrol 1.4 Terra model.
You won't be blown away with gadgets but you will have a solid motor under you and your family. Corollas make a premium and while there are cheaper alternatives out there, few match it. Plus, it will always be worth something to somebody.
If you don't like the cut of the Corolla's jib, then take a look at a petrol Kia cee'd or Hyundai i30. You won't be spoiled for choice here as both models were released around the time the economy collapsed and everybody ran towards diesel cars.
Whatever you choose, be sure to lend most weight to warranty, low mileage, condition and service history. Try not to be lured into buying as new a car as possible if it means sacrificing on any of the other attributes.
And as much as it is a pain to do, keep the car well maintained. An annual bill for a car service is much better than an expensive repair bill because something was negelected.
Eddie: I'm with Aidan on his choices but I'm going to also suggest you look at a Honda Civic saloon. A much underrated car, like the Corolla it will give your years of service without much hassle.
You might have to go back a little in the years but it would be €8,000 well spent.