Life Motoring

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Car for four kids; motor to modify? €8,500 budget; big commute; €30k sports car

Car-value expert Gillian Keogh teams up with Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham to help you make the right choice with your next purchase. Gillian is Editor of a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars produced by the Motor Trade Publishers team. The team supplies a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses.

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Question: My husband and I have two children (4, 2) in booster seats. We are due two more in October. Yes, twins.

So we need a car that can fit two young children in boosters and two babies in baby seats. Ideally the car will have good boot space to fit a twin buggy too.

We are environmentally conscious and would like to get a hybrid if possible. Our budget is around €30-€40k. What are our options? Is there anything coming up in the next year worth waiting for? We don't currently have a car.

Gillian: Our best wishes for you and your growing family. What wonderful news. On the car front, ideally you need a 7-seat hybrid. But they just aren't around for the average family budget.

There is the Toyota Prius+ at €35,950 or the Luxury at €37,750. Like the majority of 7-seaters, the boot space isn't great when the back row is in use so I really think you should wait a while for more options to appear on the market.

I would suggest you opt for a petrol or diesel model and look at a Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq or the new Seat Tarraco that only recently went on the market.

All are within budget, come with plenty of spec choice and manual/diesel, 2WD/4WD.

Eddie: I don't think you can afford to wait until next year with the imminent size of your family.

All at Independent Motors wish you and your family health and happiness.

As the father of twins myself, I don't have to tell you about the workloads involved and I think a car can help in that regard prior to the new arrivals.

As well as Gillian's excellent suggestions, I think you should consider a 7-seater people carrier (MPV - multi-purpose vehicle) for now - until the market offers more by way of 7-seat hybrids in a couple or three years time.

The Ford S-MAX is a good option; so is the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer which has a five-year warranty.

Question: I contacted you last year with a query about a car for a wheelchair and found your response very helpful.

But at the time, we did not have a primary medical cert for our son and so did not change either car.

We now have the certificate and would like some help with what to do next.

We are unsure about whether we should modify one of our existing cars or to trade in one and buy a new car.

We estimate that to modify one of ours may cost up to about €3,500. We currently have two cars, and would need two in the future also.

We have a 152 petrol Nissan Note (10,000km/year) and 161 diesel VW Jetta (20,000km/year). We would probably change the Nissan as we'd like something with a bigger boot.

If we were to change the Note for a new car, we could add about €5,000 to the trade-in plus the VAT/VRT allowances etc. We are not overly fussy on what we drive. We would just like some good advice.

Are we better to keep the cars we have and modify one of them, or upgrade to a new car and avail of all the benefits of the scheme?

Gillian and Eddie: This is tricky. By spending on modification you are sticking with the same cars and will be out of pocket by around €3,500.

You will then need to decide how long you plan to keep the cars and will the modified car carry over some of that cost when you sell on, in other words will you have a buyer?

You could trade in the Note now and, depending on condition and kilometre reading, have around €12k to play with.

That means buying a new model for around €17k and then taking your allowances out of it.

We're inclined to go for this option, simply because you can - so why not? You will need a big boot. A Dacia Duster springs to mind. It comes with both petrol and diesel engines, doesn't lose much value over any period of ownership and the boot is large for its class.

It might not be everyone's cup of tea or first brand of choice but, as you are not a badge snob, it could do the job for you. Get the 5-year warranty for a few hundred euro more than the stand three.

The Honda Jazz 1.3 starts at just €17,990 but might not be as big as you need or would like. A Seat Arona in base S spec starts at €18,415 so it might be out of range by a little bit but I think is closer to what you are after. Or perhaps a Skoda Fabia estate which comes in at €17,095 for the Active spec.

We think we're going with the Duster - it has a lot of flexible space.

Question: I've been driving a 2007 Peugeot 107 for the last 10 years but am now planning a family and need to move to a 5dr with a little more boot space. Ideally I'd like something small and easy to park but magically bigger on the inside. I only do about 10,000km a year, mostly driving around Dublin. My budget is up to €8,500 and naturally I'd like as new a car as possible. I know nothing about petrol v diesel and am open to all suggestions.

Gillian and Eddie: Your budget will get you a decent car. What you need to check for is a full service history, NCT up to date and average kilometre readings since it was first registered.

We could start with a Peugeot 208 but maybe a switch of manufacturer after 10 years would be nice.

So Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Opel Corsa would be our next choices. You should easily get into a 2013 plate for each of them. Other models to include are a Skoda Fabia or Honda Jazz.

We always seem to go to these for people with your budget and with good reason. They are roomy and safe but you may have to pay a little more for them or go back a year on reg plate, especially for the Jazz.

Question: I will be moving back home and so will be commuting 160km a day round trip. Mostly all motorway driving. Should I go new diesel Megane or electric?

Gillian: New Megane diesel, I think. Doing 160km a day is high annual driving so I don't think it is electric territory. But I would advise you not to buy new unless you have to.

You should look for a 1-2 year old model with an extremely low odometer reading to allow you to build on it and sell it on in 2-3 years. If you add 40,000km a year to a brand new car it will lose a huge amount over your period of ownership.

Eddie: Really sensible talk Gillian.

I really would put a big effort into buying a one-year-old or a demo model with low mileage. Diesel is the obvious choice.

There are good deals on saloons and hatchbacks out there right now. I don't see you as an electric-car owner at this stage though I've no doubt you could manage 40,000km a year with an EV. Would you be able to reach for the new hybrid Toyota Corolla (around €30k)? It could be a real option. Better than electric for you at this stage.

Question: I want a sports car. I'm tired of my old, if trusty, Golf (2014). I've a good job and my own house so I feel I can treat myself to a €30,000 car with a bit of fizz. Only problem: I haven't a clue what to buy or if I should pay more for a new model or go for something two or three years old.

Gillian: Sports cars tend to lose money quickly at the start and then hold on strongly after that.

They generally also start out expensive so by letting someone else bear the brunt of the initial depreciation, you could bag a real bargain by going for a 2-or-3-year old.

The typical sports car was badly affected when the 2008 Budget hit petrol power so hard - the likes of the BMW Z4 and Audi TT were hurt. While they hung in there and are available new, there won't be too many used models to pick from. A Toyota GT86 has plenty of fizz but again, there won't be a huge choice. If you want the typical roadster style, then your best bet is a Mazda MX-5 as they start at around the €30k mark new. But, if not, then the new Mercedes CLA Coupé would be top of my test drive list. I know I said to think about buying used but it really is a sweet motor. If that shape does appeal to you, then also take a look at BMW 4 series and Audi A5. They are more of an executive coupé but definitely have a sporty drive.

Eddie: I saw a well-minded three-year-old Mazda MX-5 roadster 2-seater the other day and thought to myself how it would suit you.

But I feel a larger coupé would be better for you. I'm thinking a little bit along practical lines when I suggest you go Golf GTi. Great car to drive and always in demand. I'd put that first, Merc CLA coupe second and BMW 4-series third.

Irish Independent

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