Thursday 20 October 2016

Right time to buy? 5,000km-a-year car; A €60k executive; Biased against Fiat?

Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30

Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car
Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next 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'.

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Is there an optimum time to sell/buy a car? Should I change now because my Renault Fluence has low mileage, is in great nick and there's a year's warranty left. I've been told I'd be mad to buy a petrol car because 'nobody will want them in a few years time when you go to sell'.

Also I notice the manufacturer's RRP as quoted on their documentation, website etc, bears no resemblance to the figures produced by the dealer. If I buy a new car for cash will I be in a much stronger position? Also is the Hyundai i30 worth €3,000 more than the Kia cee'd?

Aidan: You seem to have a lovely car. Now is a great time to sell. Be careful with online asking prices. That's precisely all they are; aspirational starting figures. Your dealer could be referring to the appetite for petrol specifically in your area; and he/she could be right about the favouritism shown towards diesels. It is ultimately your choice and strictly mathematically, your mileage is in petrol territory.

Have a spin in some other petrol cars. The cee'd and i30 are priced similarly; there is not €3,000 in the difference. A petrol cee'd is €19,104 versus €19,745 for the i30. But they only seem to list entry level TX and Classic models respectively on their price lists.

I have heard that there is a new turbo petrol engine coming in the Toyota Auris shortly. It might be worth a look.

Eddie: I have a rule-of-thumb of sorts: if you do 15,000km a year and like diesel, buy one. If you do 10,000km, buy petrol. In between is a grey area where you really make the decision yourself.

I agree with you on quoted prices. It is something we have highlighted in Independent Motors for years. But it is a free market and they are only recommended retail prices. They don't have to charge that. And, yes you'll be massively better positioned to get a deal if you buy a new car for cash in a straight no-trade-in deal.

Finally, Aidan has dealt with the i30/cee'd but I will say this: there are several other options including the Ford Focus, VW Golf, Mazda3, Peugeot 308, Skoda Octavia. And some have excellent petrols.

I will be soon in the market to change car. I am looking for a new car with lots of gadgets for me (mid 50s). I also am looking for a high seating position with lumbar support for my wife's back.

I do very low mileage (5000km as I use the DART for work) but can bring my car to Europe for holidays. My budget would be up to about €30,000 plus trade-in. I'm being offered around €5,000 (current car Nissan Tiida 08 automatic 1.6-litre with 110,000km).

I am looking for something that will last the test of time as I do not intend upgrading in the next 10 years.

Aidan: A diesel would be lovely for those long trips but you've got to decide if they will be anywhere near frequent enough to warrant one because 5,000km annually is not diesel country. Stick with Nissan and opt for the 1.2 petrol Qashqai in SVE trim. I find the seating position is spot on; entering and alighting is not a series of human-origami moves.

SVE models come with lane departure warning systems, which could be useful on the long trips away on busy motorways. The Qashqai's dash and clock cluster is neatly arranged and intuitive to use.

There are loads of gadgets from Bluetooth, multifunctional steering wheel and reversing camera. Opt for the Driver Assist Pack and you will get a blind spot indicator which illuminates in the wing mirrors when a car approaches your blind spot; and also Park Assist which manages the steering for parallel parking manoeuvres for you.

As an exercise in comparison, you could try some of the Qashqai's rivals; the Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35, Toyota RAV4 et al. The Kia Sportage is hugely-sought after and comes with a seven-year or 150,000 kilometre manufacturer warranty. Hyundai's 5-year warranty is for unlimited mileage but duration is your concern, not mileage.

Whatever you decide ensure you purchase a service pack and always get the car serviced every 12 months regardless of mileage. Oils, lubricants and even tyres can go off.

Eddie: For someone who only drives 5,000km a year you are making a huge cash commitment. Have you worked out how much a car is going to cost you per kilometre?

I think you are going to waste money on a bells-and-whistles car that you may sit into a couple of times a week. There are other things to be doing with your money. Not only that but the gadgets you want will be well and truly outstripped in two or three years, never mind 10.

I'd buy a smaller, more functional secondhand car with reasonable mileage. I'm thinking Honda Jazz, Skoda Fabia, VW Polo, Peugeot 208, Nissan Note etc and not have a new one losing value parked outside.

I have had a Mercedes S-Class S350 auto since 2004 and feel I can now change without people thinking I am showing off. It is a timely decision because I am retiring this year and I want to get something that will last me and my partner for a long time (children gone, no pets). I don't need as large a car but I want something comfortable and luxurious.

I expect our mileage to be around 15,000km a year as we are avid golfers and we intend to travel around. At this stage I would be looking at spending €60,000 on a new model. Can you advise please? My S-Class will not be part of any deal.

Aidan: My first thought is to stay with Mercedes and opt for the E220 Avantgarde. A new one retails at €57,435 but you're probably aware that by the time you have browsed the options catalogue, the final price will be in the mid 60s.

Do the rounds in the executive segment; there aren't many to choose from. I like the A6 because Audi has really gone to town with the specifications on this year's model. There are lots of hidden upgrades that make quite a lot of sense; such as acoustic glass (makes for a very quiet journey). Why not treat yourself and opt for the A6 3.0 TDi quattro SE Business model that has 218bhp and a lovely V6 diesel engine? It also has the excellent S'Tronic gearbox. It could be ideal for you.

There is a new Jaguar XF coming soon. It could be a serious contender if you don't mind holding out until later this year.

Eddie: The other obvious one is the BMW 5-series, of course. The 530d is a great car. But I would also point you towards a Lexus GS450h (just under €60,000) for a test drive. I think you'll be impressed with the cabin quality and with the power of the hybrid set-up. This is one of the most underrated cars on the market.

I think ye are biased against Fiats. Ye never mention them. I have had a Punto for eight years and it never gives trouble. So answer me this: should I stick with Fiat or buy one of your Skodas or Mazdas that ye are always going on about? I do 12,000km a year in my commute to work in the Dublin area. I have €8,000 to spend with my trade-in.

Aidan: I have nothing against Fiats. I hired one in Italy a couple of years ago and raved about it the whole time. The Punto is spacious, economical and priced competitively. Because of this, it holds its value particularly well, too. It does not lose any more ground to its rivals. And good residual values are not something most people attribute to Fiats.

I am preaching to the converted but for a long time now Fiats have been reliable, too. The simple fact is that Eddie and I have to take nationwide availability of the cars we recommend into account and unfortunately Fiats sell in fewer numbers. However, that should not stop you buying one. If you are happy with Fiat then stick with them. That new Skoda Fabia is lovely, though. And there is also a brand new Mazda 2 out now. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Eddie: FIAT are making huge efforts and are on the way back. I've always liked the Punto. I believe you would be as well to stick with a Fiat - a newer Punto? - because rightly or wrongly you won't get as good a trade-in from non-Fiat dealers. There, not a mention of Skoda or Mazda. Ooops!

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