Monday 24 October 2016

Which of these two? What car for my last purchase? X5 to Crew Cab?

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

Salesperson showing vehicle to potential customer in dealership
Salesperson showing vehicle to potential customer in dealership

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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I drive a BMW 530D 00 D-reg (155,000 miles), auto, leather interior. I have had it since 2006. Lovely to drive but €1,494 in tax and €300-€500 in service/faults per annum. Looking at new Toyota Corolla or Peugeot 2008 (both will take BMW as trade in, value €3,000). My wife will drive either; she would not drive the BMW. I do 16,000km a year. My budget is €15,000-€18,000.

Aidan: If your trade-in allowance is €3,000, then you are probably better off selling the BMW privately and trying to deal as a cash buyer. That way you have your pick of any car in the €18,000 range. And there are many you might otherwise ignore, such as the Honda Civic, Renault Captur, Ford Focus, Skoda Octavia and the SEAT Leon.

Either way, with the new car market so competitive, the volumes of used stock at such healthy levels in dealerships (particularly fresh stuff), anybody in the market for a used car would do well to keep their options open and shop around. If you have other reasons for wanting a 2008 or Corolla, then by all means go either route. They are two pretty dissimilar but equally good cars. The 2008 has just been given a refresh so ask your local Peugeot dealer if they have taken a trade-in of the older shape. The Corolla is a bit longer and wider and has about 10pc more boot space. Both have good diesel engines with the 2008 1.6 HDi edging the Corolla 1.4 D4D on torque. However, numbers on paper mean little so the best thing is to drive both and pick whichever you prefer. Just ensure your decision is more calculated than simply choosing a brand or dealer who will take your car on a trade-in. If you keep your next car even half as long as you kept the BMW, then you need to be happy with your decision.

Eddie: Your BMW is going to cost you if you trade it in. Aidan is correct. Sell it privately. I'd buy any of those Aidan recommends, but I suspect your menu has been set for you. You will miss the Beemer. Lovely car. It's going to be tight to get a new car with decent spec for your budget, especially if you are stretching to have €18,000 of your own money, along with the BMW. That would be a pity because they have done a nice facelift/change with the Peugeot 2008. The Corolla is a fine option too. I'm not dodging on choice here. You really have got to try both because they bring far different attributes to the table.

Perhaps you may be able to give me some guidance (Budget: €30k-€35k, annual mileage: 6,000, need 5-seater; current car 2007 Toyota Avensis with 55,000 miles). I am looking to upgrade and recently sold my Avensis which I maintained well and had low mileage. I am considering a high-seated car. My preference would be a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda. I am retired and this will possibly be the last car I purchase. My annual mileage is low and I wish to buy new. I have been told by my insurance company that the premium on the above models would be considerably higher so I am now unsure whether to stick to my preference or downsize. Considering the insurance, tax costs etc, would you have any advice or guidance on what car would be suitable for my current life situation?

Aidan: The cost of insurance is rising regardless. It is a thorny subject but I would not let it stand in the way of buying the right car. However, I think the Honda C-RV is superfluous to your needs. It's a good bit bigger than the RAV4. You also don't need a diesel, which is the only fuel type that the CR-V comes in. You could opt for a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It certainly caters for those who want an SUV and also the frugality of running around town on electricity.

However, I think you will find a more suitable alternative in the smaller SUV segment. Take a look at the very smart Honda HR-V. I think its perfect for you. It has an excellent 1.5 litre i-VTEC petrol engine. It also comes with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) gearbox. The CVT works like an automatic.

If you stick to manual, then you can really dress the HR-V up in its Sunday best without exhausting your budget. Go for the EX model - nice touches will keep the car looking fresh for a many years. The Mazda CX-3 is similarly sized to the HR-V but it has a 2.0 litre petrol engine. That sounds like it will be thirsty, but it only emits slightly more CO2 than the HRV, so it is tuned to be more efficient than it sounds. Just in case you deem those to be too small, then look at a petrol Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson.

Eddie: I'm assuming your high-seat requirement is for ease of access and egress. All the ones Aidan mentions are good on that front. You are spending a lot of money to cover really small mileage. You don't need a RAV-4. I'd pick the Honda HR-V automatic petrol or the Mazda CX-3; they have nice height. Treat yourself to well-specced versions. And - this is important - buy petrol. Diesel will cause problems for you not just because you're doing small mileage but as the Diesel Particulate Filter will choke up as you don't sound like the sort of driver who will give it a lash to get its temperature up to the levels needed to burn off the soot that builds up - and that's trouble. Shop around for insurance. I am aware of quotes for €4,000 being lowered to €2,400. Tempt them with the possibility of house insurance too.

I am looking to buy a BMW X5 around 11 or 12-reg; 3-litre 30d or 40d M Sport with five seats, and extras, including panoramic roof. Budget €40,000. Will be doing about 20,000km a year. I'm looking at a five-seater, then going to get it converted to Crew Cab for tax. I have priced 11 and 12-regs in Ireland and I would do well to get an 11-reg under €40k. I can pick up a 12-reg from a UK dealer for a little over £21k and pay VRT of roughly €13k - working out around €40k. It is just all the hassle involved importing it and travelling over to check it out. Do you think prices for this type of vehicle will lower here in the coming months with sterling going the way it is? What would you advise?

Aidan: Be careful in every aspect of this. First, the old chestnut of converting a vehicle to meet with N1 classification on the Crew Cab front. Forget whatever you've heard about short cuts. You are going to need a Declaration of Conversion from a SQI (Suitably Qualified Individual), for this 'your man down the road with the proper paperwork and rubber stamp' isn't going to cut it. Everything needs to be done in an Approved Test Centre (ATC). Some will say it's simply filling out a form and making a few minor tweaks to the cargo and rear passenger seating areas. I have heard conflicting reports on which models qualify and which don't. Then there is motor tax. The law is clear on this: if you are using a vehicle for social, domestic and pleasure purposes, then it must be taxed accordingly. Then you've got to deal with the insurance company.

Again, some contacts in the insurance market have advised me of special conditions and admissions that need to be disclosed and specifically appear on the policy schedule. Vehicles classified as N1 from the factory are much clearer cut. I wouldn't bother with the conversion. As for the X5 and UK values, it is still early days to determine the impact on values here but be sure you compare like with like. Do proper background checks on registration and VIN numbers and factor in all costs.

Eddie: Why are you going to such extremes to hack an X5 into a Crew Cab? Why not buy a new Crew Cab - Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger. Straightforward. Even if you get the X5 converted, and that are you going to declare it, will it ONLY be used in the course of your business? If you are going to mix it as workhorse and car you will have to pay higher road tax than the €333 levied on business crew cabs. That's a dodgy area to get into. And what will your X5 Crew Cab be worth in a few years? I'd say considerably less than a conventional one. My gut instinct here is 'Lose, Lose'. I'm urging extreme caution here on: Import, conversion, declaration of use. You can do better with your €40,000.

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