Monday 5 December 2016

Should we keep old Corollas? Changing supermini, Search for 7-seater petrol

Published 26/10/2016 | 02:30

A Mini Van
A Mini Van

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 bestselling book Clever Car Buying.

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Myself and my partner have two Corollas. Both of them are approximately 10 years old. One is a 1.4 petrol, the other a 1.4 diesel. Each has roughly 100,000km on the clock.

We each do about 10,000km a year. We keep them serviced at a main dealer. Neither of us feels the need to replace them.

How long should we realistically expect them to keep going? What kind of major items will need to be replaced along the line if we do keep them? Rough price estimate?

Aidan: Ordinarily, I would advocate having at least one fresh car in the family.

However, considering your current odometers, annual mileage, and vigilance with servicing the cars with a main dealer, not to mention the fact that you both drive notably reliable machines, you could conceivably drive the cars for the same period again without replacing anything other than standard service items.

Not many people can say that about their 10-year-old cars. The Corolla 1.4 petrol engine in your machine could go forever. The 1.4 D4D engine is solid, too.

However, cars have so many complex parts that it is impossible to accurately determine how long some of them will last. Furthermore, you and your partner are variables in this equation.

What are your driving styles like? I get the impression that you are considerate drivers, though, so that's another thing that potentially elongates your cars' lifespans.

As for replacement parts, we can separate normal wear and tear parts from more expensive 'big ticket' items. Expect to replace brake discs, brake pads, and clutches at some point.

Depending on road conditions where you live, various suspension components might give up sooner rather than later but it's impossible to say for sure.

If your garage has not marked your card on some big items that could potentially need replacing soon, then leave well enough alone.

I regularly hear mixed reports of cars older than 10 years posing difficulties for new owners to insure. The story changes so it's difficult to know where you stand. What would make eminently good sense, is to save up a few quid for when you eventually trade out of the cars, even though your rate of depreciation now is very minimal.

One thing to bear in mind is that safety technology has improved dramatically since your cars were built. It is often a factor that gets overlooked when people consider whether or not to change to a younger car.

Eddie: I hold a simple view on this. These cars owe you nothing at this stage. You have minded them well and are reaping the benefit.

So keep them for as long as you can but make sure you do so with safety to the forefront of your considerations.

Normal stuff, as Aidan has outlined, will wear but the core vehicles can go for many, many years.

You are an example of how to look after a car and, in the process, save yourselves the expense of more frequent repair and replacement.

Here's to 10 more years.

I have a 131 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost; 38,000km and I'm looking to change to a younger car. I'm thinking of new 171 Fiesta, a Hyundai but like the Skoda Fabia Combi as it would suit me taking stuff to the recycling centre. I would value your advice.

Aidan: Before deciding which supermini is best suited to your needs, you should consider the options in view of your total vehicle usage and not just an isolated, or semi-regular occurrence, such as visits to the recycling centre.

As my dad says, "Don't take the whole bottle of penicillin if a single pill will do."

If your current Fiesta is already doing the trick with such trips then perhaps there is no need to change model.

The Fiesta is consistently one of the best in its segment for good reason.

However, if space has recently become an issue, or you feel strongly enough that you would prefer more room, then the Fabia Combi is a sensible choice.

I presume some trips to the recycling centre are a result of a prior trip to the gardening centre so perhaps you need a bigger boot than I am estimating.

With 530 litres of boot space (rear seats still intact), the Fabia Combi benefits from a substantial increase in size over the 330l in the hatchback. It's positively huge.

The same can be said for the boot in the Fabia Combi's closest cousin, the SEAT Ibiza ST.

Both are built on identical platforms but are dressed differently. In either case, you will probably find the 1.0 litre 75bhp version to be ample. Go for an Ambition model Fabia Combi or an SE model Ibiza ST.

If, upon closer inspection, those options are a tad too big, then the regular Fabia is hard to beat for space in this segment and it has 40 litres more boot space than the Fiesta.

The Hyundai i20 is also worth a close look. It's a big car for this segment. Go for the Deluxe model if you go this route.

Eddie: The only other one I'd come up with is the exceptionally roomy Dacia Sandero supermini. It's extremely spacious and would meet your needs fairly head on.

But it is not an estate as the Fabia Combi is and that's where the Skoda scores heavily. I like it, Aidan likes it but most of all you like it. So the advice is: go buy it.

I am very interested in your articles in the diesel/petrol debate. I have an 2006 Opel Zafira (which has been great over the last 10 years). The annual mileage is 10,000km. I use the car for carrying sports equipment and I need seven seats for carrying passengers over short distances.

It would appear that all seven-seaters on car sale websites are diesel. Are there any petrol seven-seaters which would suit my needs? Or do you have any other suggestions?

I have a budget of €20,000 on top of trading in my Zafira.

Aidan: This is a brilliant question that even manufacturers are asking themselves, namely, in which direction does engine technology pivot away from diesel?

By the end of this decade, emissions regulations and a new testing system will make refining diesel engines very costly.

Some brands even think that the cost could be so prohibitive that the solution needs to be found elsewhere.

Renault recently remarked that many of its smaller cars won't even have a diesel variant in the not too distant future.

Other marques seem to be pouring money into R&D for electric cars and have already begun rolling out small, turbo, petrol engines across their ranges; even in big cars.

Our electric car infrastructure in Ireland is improving but it's woefully behind where it needs to be in order to deliver on the type of market penetration that is expected of electric cars.

So, for now, we have to make the best use of what we are given.

That still doesn't leave you stranded, though. You can get petrol seven-seaters.

Peugeot offers its 5008 with a 1.2 litre petrol engine. It comes in well under €30,000 so it's not far off your affordability.

Others like the VW Touran, Ford S-Max and Galaxy also have petrol versions but you are priced out of new ones. See if the 5008 fits the bill. It should.

Eddie: I hate to say this but you may have to go the diesel route purely for choice. Your mileage doesn't warrant it by any means but ...

The Peugeot 5008 looks like a prime petrol candidate, no doubt about it. Other than that you are going to struggle to get any sort of real selection on petrol seven-seaters. And I do know there is always demand for them. We get a lot of questions about them here.

So take Aidan's advice and sample the Peugeot 5008. It's a big, roomy and comfortable motor and it could suit you down to the ground. If it doesn't, you may have to bite the bullet and stick with diesel for another little while.

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