Friday 6 December 2019

Best estate; car for work and play? Change my low mileage BMW?

Estate cars are not so popular with Irish buyers.
Estate cars are not so popular with Irish buyers.

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'.

We are expecting our first child in July and are looking to trade in a 10-reg Volkswagen Polo (5dr) for an estate (we need space for buggy and travel on holidays). What are the best options to look at? We are thinking of a budget of €10k to €12k plus trade-in for the Polo for a 4-to-6-year-old car. We plan to keep this car for at least 6 years.

We are thinking of the VW Passat, Skoda Octavia or Toyota Avensis estate. I think these are compact but still roomy and spacious. I think the Superb estate is too big, and therefore may be more costly to run in fuel, etc. Annual mileage will be 25k to 30k a year. What advice can you give on estates? What other options should we be looking at? Which car provides the most space and value for money?

Aidan: Estates tend not to be too popular with Irish buyers. From a practical and functional point of view, that means they are generally good value. I think the Skoda Superb is one of the best money can buy. It is enormous, but don't let its size shape your impression on how much it costs to run. It is frugal and efficient. It is, however, a bit superfluous for your needs. And because of its cost new and the segment that it belongs to, it needs to drop more in value relative to vehicles in segments below it for it to be affordable for you.

This means you will have to buy an older version. If you plan on keeping the car for a long time then you are better to get something with low mileage, which should inherently mean something younger - all things being equal. What about the Skoda Octavia Combi instead?

It's still a big car and I don't think you will outgrow it any time soon. Your budget (I make it somewhere around €15,000) should get you into a fresh enough model; perhaps one of the 2012 Ambition versions but that's best case scenario. Anything mid-spec from 2011 back was called Ambiente just so you know.

The Kia cee'd SW and Hyundai i30 SW are fine machines too with good spec levels. The cee'd in particular usually comes heavily laden with gizmos and the last of the old models (from 2012) came in Elite trim with lots of goodies.

Depending on your final budget you might just sneak into the first of the newer shape 2013 models. If it is a small stretch (nothing uncomfortable) to do this, then I think it is worth it and especially if the car has lower mileage than a 2012 model. Seeing as though you want to keep the car for a long time, you will want peace of mind and the Kia 7-year warranty on new cars will deliver on that front. A 2013 plate cee'd SW should be comprehensively covered until 2020 (or 150,000 km, whichever comes first). Once the T&Cs have been conformed with, the Hyundai comes with five years' unlimited mileage warranty.

If you eschew the estate idea altogether, then you might find a Qashqai will suffice. As a real option from left field to stimulate your thinking; what about something like the Ford C-Max? It's got everything you need but it isn't an estate. If you think your family might expand a bit further in a short period of time, then the C-Max is worth considering.

Eddie: I'd just go for the Skoda Octavia Combi. It's the best value you'll get. I do think, however, that people carriers along the lines of the Ford C-MAX that Aidan mentioned, are well worth a check-over. They are more specifically designed for your sort of needs. But for me, and on the basis of what you've told us, the Skoda is a real option.

I'm thinking of changing my car and have no idea what to go for. I do a lot of driving for work. I'd need a 5dr (5 seats) as I have a lot of people in and out of my car for work. I'm thinking a 1.6litre at least due to the mileage (I get mileage expenses back from work and the bigger the engine, the more money I get back).

I also do a lot of driving in my personal life for hiking and mountain biking which is about a 100km round trip. My budget is €20,000 and I'd like to get about 8 years out of a new car. I currently own a 2005 1.4l Skoda Octavia with 177,000km on the clock. It is roomy and comfortable but I'm open to something different.

Aidan: I won't go into detail on the Octavia because regular readers will know we tend to recommend it on an almost weekly basis. In fact, it features in the question above. But the Octavia should still feature on your shopping list for reasons that are probably more obvious to you than most.

You say you want something that will run and run without causing a fuss. In that case, go for a Mazda6 five-door liftback version, or even an estate. It's massive. I drive a Mazda6 so I can confidently assert to its comfort on long journeys (I cover the entire country researching the market). Rear leg room is brilliant and boot space is first class. It's got a 2.2 diesel engine to help bump your expenses.

In fact, if you are carrying a lot of people and/or mountain bike equipment you will want something with a bit of low down grunt that doesn't strain on inclines or over long distances. You might find that the first of the present shape models from 2013 are in budget. A serious machine that Mazda6. Other than that, I think that a 2-litre diesel Ford Mondeo is hard to beat.

A 2-litre diesel VW Passat would be lovely, too. You're definitely talking older model here. Lastly, what about something like a Ford Kuga? It is a good bit bigger than some others. It has the same engine as the Mondeo so you know that it will be a smooth driver and the space it affords for passengers and carrying equipment makes it an interesting choice.

Eddie: I'd suggest the Skoda Superb (we seem to be stuck on that brand this week), Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Avensis, Peugeot 508. All have lots of room are easy to get in and out of and have excellent diesel engines. Maybe look at estate versions of them to suit your non-working life pursuits better. Estates can be really versatile and flexible.

I've a 2008 520d BMW SE (75,000 miles full-service history from new. I'd like to freshen it up with a 2012 model (new shape) but I've found 2012 regs have generally more miles than I have on mine. I've a budget of around €15,000 along with my own car to spend. I cannot find a 2012 plate with low mileage. What is my best option here? I really like the BMW but would be open to change, maybe a highline Passat CC or similar. What do you think?

Aidan: You are one of the very rare drivers who diligently maintains a full-service obligation. However, as you are experiencing first-hand you cover less mileage than the average diesel driver. It seems you might be caught a little with the registration plate here. If you are fixed on a 2012 model your affordability will only stretch to higher mileage 2012 models. You might not want to drop back to a 2011 but if the car is in better shape and with less mileage and from a BMW dealer then I think you should consider it.

The Passat CC suggestion is a good one. Look for Sport models and particularly automatic versions. You might also consider going to Volvo and looking at the S80. If at all possible, get one in SE Lux specification but regular SE models are good, too. The S80 has just been replaced with the S90 and although sales were low in previous years, you might find availability improves with the new model now launched.

Eddie: Why are you pushing yourself into a potential heavy outlay when your own car is perfectly suitable for what you want and need? Even though your mileage is low you will be punished because of the year. Your car's annual depreciation is tailing off at such a rate now that you're not going to lose that much on trade-in value, I think. I'd wait another year, or even two, when there will be far more 520ds (131, 132, 141 plates) coming back for sale (since the sales upturn began). I'd expect more to have lower mileage too because many will be coming to dealerships under PCP deals and a good percentage will have relatively modest mileage limits as part of their agreements. Your car is a gem so enjoy it for another while.


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.

c Size of car required (number of seats).

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

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