Helping you spend €20,000 on a good people carrier (MPV)
Here are four we think you should consider
This week Aidan Timmons teams up with Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham to help you make a better decision when buying a used people carrier. Aidan visits dealers all over the country each year to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of ‘Motor Trade Publishers’, who supply a carvaluing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses.
Aidan: Eddie, €20,000 is a great for an MPV. There are some good options.
Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi Zetec
The S-Max really put the cat among the pigeons when it was released back in July 2006. Until then, MPVs bore striking resemblances: box-shaped to maximize space. In my opinion, the S Max was the first conventionally cool MPV.
Engines: At this budget the 2.0 TDCi is the most plentiful. The tax is still sensibly low at €390 (depending on spec and transmission) but it is also one of the finest diesels that Ford produces. You'll thank the extra power when the car is fully laden with children and luggage.
Residual values: This is tricky. Ford changed the S-Max's new price a few times in an attempt to put sensible gaps between it, the Mondeo and the larger Galaxy MPV. At the time it messed with residuals a bit but now everything seems fine. Certainly, the S-Max will perform strongly against competitors. It's well liked.
Cabin: Thankfully most models are Zetec trim so equipment levels are excellent. Some came from the UK in Titanium trim so keep an eye out for those. All seats fold pretty flat if you need the S-Max to double as a part-time van.
Choice: They are relatively plentiful. MPVs have been finding the going a little tough even if the used car market is performing well. For €20,000 you can expect to drive away with a 2010 S-Max; maybe even with change.
Watch out for: The usual used MPV stuff – scrapes, dents and heavily worn out interiors. A 2010 model is still considered fresh stock so some dealers might offer a lengthy warranty.
Not a name that people think straight off, but it is a former European Car of the Year. Biggest problem is that the Galaxy offers a lot more for not that much extra. Fine car though and families/ owners love it.
Citroen C4 1.6 Grand Picasso
Background: This is a firm favourite with good reason. It's comfortable, affordable, cheap to tax and run and has sensible maintenance costs. The Grand Picasso is the 7-seat version. The regular Picasso has five. The Grand is more popular and makes quite a bit more money too.
Engines: Really just the one option: the 1.6 diesel. It's a great engine once it's minded properly. It is much the same engine you'll find across the Citroen range as well as in Fords and to some extent in Volvo. Even when at full capacity, the large Grand Picasso body isn't too much trouble for the relatively lightweight 1.6.
Residual values: The Grand Picasso can sometimes go through bouts of oversupply and imports contribute to this. The result can be a short-term underperformance until most of the volume is washed through the system. Viewed another way, this can be great news if you are buying one.
Cabin: With this budget you will likely get a 2012 VTR+ model (the dominant seller that year). It's well specced with alloys, front fogs, air con, multi-function steering wheel, rain sensing wiper and a centre armrest. There are three individual seats in the back and lots of ISOFIX points. It's spacious and comfortable and ticks all the right boxes.
Choice: I'll have to contradict myself a little here, as 2012 models aren't in plentiful supply. But there are lots of 2011s; so if your budget is closer to €17,000 then you can avail of a highly equipped Dynamique spec.
Watch out for: Maintenance records are essential. The turbos can blow before their time if they aren't properly looked after.
The Picasso's big selling point for families is that you can get three child seats into the back. Residuals have held well considering how poorly Citroen have done on the second-hand market back the years – they are improving nowadays, in fairness.
Peugeot 5008 1.6 HDi SX
Background: Strangely, the 5008 has become the silent star of the Peugeot range. Dealers love to see them arrive back and they tend not to hang about for too long when they do. This is quite the opposite of many other brands, whose MPVs are fringe players only.
Engines: Just like with the Citroen, you've got just one choice here – the same 1.6 HDi engine. Make sure you get the car serviced properly. Bad reports of this engine are usually attributed to neglect.
Residual values: Despite being popular, values aren't astronomical. The 5008 performs strongly against competitors and based on today's figures, the cost to change from a 2010 to a 2012 model is a little less than some rivals. In a nutshell, the older the 5008 gets, the more competitive it becomes.
Cabin: The interior is refreshingly simple and solidly built. Just like the S-Max and C4 Grand Picasso, there is plenty of space. Adults will easily fit in the three rear seats and even the two at the back aren't that uncomfortable over short journeys. When not needed as a 7-seater the boot space is enormous. It's a capable MPV.
Choice: You might just be able to stretch for the 2012 model in Active spec but it will require some tough negotiating; 2011s are in more plentiful supply anyway. Don't worry if you can't find an Active model in 2011 – they didn't exist until 2012. Find an SX or even an Allure spec and you'll have more than enough comforts to make long trips a doddle.
Watch out for: Again, it's the usual maintenance stuff with Peugeots. You would be surprised what the wrong grade of oil can do to a diesel engine. I would expect most sold at this budget will come with 12 months warranty – if yours doesn't, haggle for it.
Can't echo Aidan's advice enough on maintenance. Cars are highly sensitive to minor changes and you can undermine an engine so easily. Lot of room in this and I think it is one of the easiest to access. Watch for signs of undue wear and tear.
Nissan Qashqai+2 1.5 dCi SVE
Background: Technically, this isn't considered a traditional 7-seater. It's a 5-seat car with two extra seats. Hence the moniker '+2'. It's a good choice for anyone who only needs the option of additional rear seating infrequently. The best part is, the rest of the time you get to drive around in a Qashqai. It's a good alternative to the family-wagon look of some MPVs.
Engines: The most popular engine is the 1.5 diesel. It's fine in the regular Qashqai but the added weight of the extra bodywork and more seats can put it under a little strain when fully loaded. Still, it's frugal and refined at other times.
Residual values: Excellent really. The Qashqai+2 wasn't a volume seller so it doesn't suffer from oversupply. It's also earmarked to finish production soon to make way for the new X-Trail. The new 5-seat Qashqai arrived here earlier this year. A limited run might make the Qashqai +2 much sought after and residual values could be bolstered by this.
Cabin: I quite like the interior but it can be a bit dull due to lots of black plastic panels. The SVE model is highly equipped with features such as multi-functional steering wheel, cruise control, air con and parking sensors. There isn't much boot space when all seven seats are in use.
Choice: UK imports have different badge names to Irish cars. Here the spec levels were called SE (later XE) and SVE. English models are called Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Most popular spec here was the SVE. Its closest match from the UK is Acenta but equipment levels might not always be the same. Be sure to make sure you are comparing like models.
Watch out for: Check for excessive wear and tear against the mileage of the car. With any import, it's important that you check the car's history.
The +2 isn't a patch on the five-seater but as Aidan says it ticks a lot of boxes if you only need seven seats now and again. Rear visibility isn't good; it doesn't look as well but it's a Qashqai and it will last and last.