Life Motor Talk

Tuesday 23 September 2014

We need a car to take four child seats and their kit - which includes two buggies

Published 13/08/2014 | 00:00

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Hyundai i40
Ford Tourneo
Toyota Corolla

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help 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. Eddie is also author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.

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We need a car that will take four child seats - like for two sets of twins - plus their kit, including two double buggies. Ease of access to all the children while travelling is a must. Our existing car is a Hyundai Sonata.

Aidan: I'm not aware of any seven-seater MPV that has four ISOFIX points so you might be resigned to using one regular child seat. Not too long ago, Eddie recommended the SEAT Alhambra to another reader. This has seven seats, a sliding door, a frugal engine and the higher-spec models have really good level of trim. 2011 models were known as Style. In February 2012 this changed to Exclusive and in late 2013 the higher grade was simply reduced to 'S'. Expect to pay around €25,000 for a 2011 model, which was the first year of the current shape. Add €4,000 to €5,000 a year thereafter for newer models.

I also recommended, some time ago, a Mazda 5 to another person. It's similar to the Alhambra in that it's got a sliding door and allows great maneuverability for getting children's seats in and out. It's got a 1.6 litre diesel compared to the Alhambra's 2.0 litre. This is neither better nor worse as the Alhambra will glide effortlessly even when fully loaded. The Mazda5 is less costly to buy, though.

But suppose you want to future proof your motoring needs and in time you may require even more space than a 7-seater MPV offers. This places you in the market for an 8-seater or 9-seater. Even if you don't reach maximum occupancy, you have a lot of space in the back for buggies, bags and other ancillaries.

Take a close look at something like Ford's new Transit Custom Kombi or Opel's Vivaro Combi. The latter is sensibly arranged. It has two rows of three seats in the back and depending on how many you need, you can fold or remove one of the rows to provide more space. It looks and drives like its van brother but if needs must then it's a sensible choice.

Eddie: I've contacted every distributor I thought might have something - just to double check.

They have been really helpful but, I'm afraid, the pickings are slim enough. The problem is getting enough ISOFIX points on enough seats.

Opel tell me they will fit two points to the third row of their Vivaro Combi and that will give you, yes, FOUR. It will cost, of course, but I think it is worth considering because, as Aidan says, you are going to need more room, not less, as the years roll on. Let me know and I'll put you in touch.

Mercedes have four on their seven-seat GL (but it costs €100,000+, I'm afraid).

There are three in the Peugeot 5008, Citroen Picasso and Grand Picasso, the Ford Galaxy and the Ford S-Max.

I tried high up and low down for you on this. I thought the Volkswagen Caravelle might suit? Or the Ford Grand Tourneo connect?

I've come to the conclusion you need so much space the larger people carriers or the Opel offer your the best route. And why not talk to Opel about the cost of having two more fitted in the Vivaro?

Question 2: I am changing from a company car to a personal one shortly and I'm just wondering which one to buy. Fuel performance is the critical issue as my commute is around 60km each way on a daily basis. I reckon from my research it boils down to either the BMW 3 series or the Hyundai i40. I've got around €20,000.

Aidan: Now that you are footing the bill for your own car, fuel efficiency, comfort and affordability are paramount in your decision-making. I think a couple of suggestions from last week might suit. I won't dwell on them here again but Eddie recommended the Skoda Superb.

Your budget places you in the market for a 2012 model but perhaps even drop back a year and try for an estate version with DSG in Elegance spec. This car would devour your daily commute. I never hesitate recommending the Mazda 6. It's more 5-Series than 3-Series in size and it's a dream to drive.

Last week I mentioned the Opel Insignia purely for its level of comfort. So, that's a roundup of previously recommended options. On your own selections; they're both excellent cars but quite different. Their outstanding features above other models, and I assume the principle reason for you choosing them, is their warranties.

If you decide on the 3-Series, ensure it is a Premium Selection vehicle from a BMW dealer. This way you get two years unlimited mileage warranty. I always say 'you can't put a price on peace of mind' and this is about as good a warranty package as any for a used car; 318 diesels don't make much of a premium above 316s but they're far nicer to drive.

I'd recommend going for the higher output version.

Likewise, Hyundai's 5-year warranty is enviable. You might just stretch into a 2012 i40 which gives you an additional one year's warranty on the 3-Series. Again, so long as you conform to Hyundai's terms, this warranty should stand you in excellent stead. I can't fault either option and could make as convincing an argument for each so it's down to whichever one you prefer.

However, if you like the i40 but want something a little rarer, you could choose Kia's Optima.

You might have to stretch a little beyond your budget to get a 2012 Platinum model but you most likely won't regret it. I speak regularly with Kia dealers and they are confident of it retaining strong residuals. Make sure you find one with low mileage, though. Kia's 7-year warranty expires beyond 150,000kms.

Eddie: I'm going to stray from the main road a bit on this because I'm wondering why you feel you need such a large car. I'm assuming you commute mostly on your own.

So I suggest you go look at a Honda Civic 1.6-litre diesel too. You may have to pay a bit more than you'd like but it has been my experience it will give you 55mpg - 65mpg without any bother. And it's comfortable.

I am dealing with what I think is you prime focus: MPG. There are some good deals going too on the Ford Mondeo (1.6-litre). There is a brand new one in a few months but the run-out version is packed to the gills with equipment and I'd say you'd get a fine deal now if you tell them you know what's coming. Great engine. Easy, easy on the juice.

The new Toyota Corolla is well worth a look too. It's as roomy as some so-called larger cars and the 1.4-litre diesel is exceptional. I'm talking cars that might be a bit 'smaller' than your two but I'm pointing out that they have a lot of room too. Such as the Skoda Octavia. It's huge. And stacked with equipment. Sturdy and comfortable - and easy on diesel. So might I make a case that you cast your net a bit wider?

Just to say

We love getting your enquiries but can’t reply to all queries in as full a manner as this due to time and space restraints.

We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help us help you if you make sure to include the following critical elements in your query:

* Total budget.

* Annual mileage.

* Size of car required (number of seats).

* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).

Email: ecunningham@independent.ie

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