Back to school - three cars for you to think about that are within your €12,000 budget.
Aidan Timmons helps you make the right choice with your 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.
This week we're looking at three motors that might suit families as they get ready to begin the school run.
Kia cee'd 1.6 CRDi TX
Background: In a relatively short space of time Kia has become a firm favourite with many Irish motorists and it's not difficult to see why. From 2010 onwards, Kia offered 7-year warranty with their cars. It was a clever move. Not because they break down a lot (they hardly ever do). Rather, it offers peace of mind on used cars that their rivals simply can't keep pace with. And it's why they are so sought after at this budget.
Engines: The 1.6 CRDi engine is not as refined or quiet as some longer established rivals but it's frugal and reliable. The cee'd's CO2 output changed a couple of times throughout 2010; once in May and another time in July. This brought motor tax to as low a category as A3, meaning some models are just €190 to tax per year. Still, it's only a small price jump if you find a higher output model.
Residual values: Having a 7-year warranty also helps residual values (I did say it was clever). At this budget you should find 2010 models within reach. Anything older and the extensive warranty won't apply. Some imports late last year caused values to dip slightly but they're back on track and holding their own. No major worries in this department.
Cabin: You can look at the interior in one of two ways. A little less salubrious than some German or French offerings or a whole lot of value for money. The TX model is the higher grade. Many 2010s will be EX as the name didn't change until May of that year. This spec comes with Bluetooth, leather multi- functional steering wheel and air con. Not the prettiest but robust.
Choice: There is a healthy mix of 2010 models on the market. If you need the extra room, keep a watchful eye out for the SW (estate) model. It costs a little more to tax at €270, but that small outlay pales in comparison to the flexibility it offers. Expect to have to pay upwards of €1,000 more for the SW than the 5 door hatch.
Watch out for: Mileage. Not all cars come with Kia's 7-year warranty. There is a strict set of criteria that previous owners needed to adhere to and if they neglected anything, Kia won't cover the fall out. You might have to pay the premium price to get a low mileage model that qualifies for warranty. It's worth it.
Citroen C4 1.6 Grand Picasso
Background: The Citroen C4 Grand Picasso is a no-nonsense 7-seater MPV that's been around long enough to fit into this budget nicely. They can be seen parked outside school gates up and down the country and stand up to a torrid amount of abuse. Best of all, they're relatively cheap to run and maintain.
Engines: Helping keep costs down is the 1.6 HDi engine. It's not without it's faults but properly serviced models will prove reliable. Depending on spec and transmission (quite a few sold in automatic) tax is anywhere from €280 to €390. Power is ample for motorway cruises even when fully loaded.
Residual values: The C4 Grand Picasso was a popular candidate for being imported so values tended to suffer a little because of this. However, they are regularly sought after and their broad appeal means that, at worst, any glut of them causes only a small ripple effect to values. In any case, we're talking about a €12,000 2009 model here so it should hold it's own nicely from now on.
Cabin: Thankfully most buyers opted for the higher level Dynamique model (later, the VTR+). It's got everything that parents and children need from a car. Loads of legroom, headroom, ISOFIX (3 individual points in the middle row of seats) and a bright spacious cabin. The seating position for the driver is spot on; tall, comfortable and affords a great field of view.
Choice: Quality MPVs such as the C4 Picasso are always in steady demand. Dealers respond to this and so it shouldn't be a difficult task to find a 2009 model. Lots of the automatic models came with the higher level spec; known as Exclusive. These came with leather which is great for keeping clean with mucky hands and feet climbing into the car.
Watch out for: If not properly serviced, turbos can blow. They also need to be repaired properly too so make sure you get a documented service record or some level of warranty. Some sensors can give a little trouble also.
Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Zetec
Background: The reality of the motor trade is such that some truly excellent cars lose out to more popular rivals based on as little as their badge. In some respects this applies to the Mondeo. It's now very long in the tooth and in drastic need of a revision but at this budget, and with your homework done correctly, you could land yourself a fantastic family car that you will really enjoy.
Engines: Just like all other manufacturers, Ford's need to appeal to the mass-market with a low CO2 emitting diesel meant they were forced to downsize their engines. The 1.8 TDCi was dropped; the 1.6 TDCi from the Focus was introduced. But the one that I would opt for is the 2.0 TDCi. It's got a timing chain instead of a belt and it's a corker.
Residual values: I wouldn't worry about depreciation. If the Mondeos at this price fall hard, chances are everything else is falling with it. In fact, over the last 12 months it's been the opposite that required watching out for. Quality used cars are scarce and get sold quickly so if you find the one that ticks your boxes, snap it up. This budget will see you in a 2009 Zetec model.
Cabin: The 2.0 TDCi was most popular in Zetec spec, which has air con, cruise control, Bluetooth, a centre armrest and front fogs. There are two ISOFIX points and if you find the five door liftback (hatchback) version you get a cavernous boot for buggies and bags. The chrome dials and radio fascia still look modern, if a little cluttered. It's a bright, roomy, lovely place to sit.
Choice: In the last few years, some savvy Ford dealers imported 2009 model Titanium X spec Mondeos. We sold hardly any cars at all in 2009 so these are a welcome addition to the regular Zetec spec. Be sure to run the proper history reports to check if the car was imported. Better still, try find one brought into the country by a Ford dealer.
Watch out for: At this budget there will be lots of 2009 Mondeos that have seen a fair bit of the road. They are popular with rental companies so they start out in the used car market with higher than average mileage. Watch out for excessive wear-and-tear. Try find one with a detailed service record. Look for some warranty.