€50k for my 'last' new car. Starter car for daughter? 'New-start' sports car?
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'.
I am 68 years old and I want to buy a new car - more than likely my last. I have a budget of €50,000. I only do about 10,000km a year. I want a five-seater saloon. I am really looking forward to some luxury.
Aidan: What a proposition. Right, thinking cap firmly affixed here.
The Lexus GS300h is some machine. Your budget will buy you a brand new Executive model or a one-year-old Dynamic and leave you with enough change for a fancy holiday.
The GS300h has a hybrid 2.5 litre petrol engine and should sip miserly on fuel around town. It's an executive car with high levels of comfort and refinement.
Lexus make some truly reliable motors too, so it will stand the test of time. The Dynamic model has electric front seats, bi-xenon headlights, a reversing camera, an enormous 12ins digital display with sat nav and a whole host of other drivers' aids.
Golf clubs, luggage and shopping will be absorbed by the boot.
And the shape isn't as severely angular as the smaller IS300h. It doesn't look too ostentatious. It's refinement personified in a car.
Sticking with Lexus; you could opt for the new NX300h. Again, your budget will stretch to a well-kitted front-wheel-drive Dynamic model. As an SUV, you will be perched above other road users, which can give the sensation of feeling a bit safer.
It also means that getting in and out should be an easier proposition, too.
It's a striking design and it probably won't be as frequently spotted on the road so there is a niche element to it, which might appeal to you.
On the used market, there is the Jaguar XJ. Your budget will buy a 2011 model with all the kit - a Premium Luxury or maybe even a Portfolio.
The power from the V6 3.0 litre diesel engine might be ever-so slightly redundant for you, considering your annual mileage but who cares? It's a Jag. The only concern I have is that you won't cover the mileage to justify a diesel car.
Other than that, the XJ is really all the car you could ever want or need. Please let us know what you decide and best wishes for many happy, healthy and trouble-free years driving.
Eddie, you have driven the new Jag XE. Is it worth consideration or too conservative a choice?
Eddie: The new XE is a bit tight at the back if you are looking for a five-seater.
Aidan, I think this man wants something bigger. And I have a feeling we should be pointing him in the direction of the mid-size Jaguar, the XF.
There is a really lovely Luxury version for around €48,600 - brand new.
The interior is gorgeous, the whole thing is quite 'modern posh' if you know what I mean. And here's a thing. A new XF is expected later in the year - it debuts at the New York Motor Show in April. And it will have the same chassis components as the XE as well as similar styling. So, dear reader, you can use that information to get a better deal. Take a look at this car anyway. Class.
I know it doesn't matter to you but the 2.2-litre diesel is capable of 50mpg-plus.
Could you advise me on a starter car for my 19-year-old daughter? She will be driving about 50kms a day to and from work. Our budget at this stage, I'm afraid, is €5,000.
Aidan: Firstly, this is a really competitive area of the market with a lot of buyers vying for the same stock. This has the effect of stabilising values. Therefore you will likely see minor differences in prices between different registration plates.
Don't be alarmed, but equally don't pay too much attention to the plate. With €5,000 it is much better to concentrate on other attributes including mileage, condition and service record.
Cars with a full service history are rare in this country - find one with a comprehensive record and you are winning. The Mitsubishi Colt is a great starter car. It's small, economical and should be relatively affordable to insure. Expect to find 2006/2007 models for this budget.
The Toyota Yaris is a great choice too. The little 3-cylinder 1-litre engine will go forever and the body shape has aged well.
The French excel when it comes to superminis so find a well-minded Renault Clio and you won't be disappointed. It has a slightly larger engine than the Yaris but it should not affect your daughter's insurance too heavily.
Lots of Renault's legacy problems affected the bigger cars in their range so don't be put off by anyone giving the Clio undue bad press.
Definitely purchase a vehicle history check and ask a mechanic to get under the bonnet for a nose around.
Make sure you regularly service the car even if it means keeping some of the budget aside for a rainy day.
Eddie: Peugeot's 206 is a popular buy at this level too. Again, get it checked but there are a good few of them out there.
And there are plenty of Ford Fiestas. The great thing about them is that spare parts are seldom a problem because there are so many cars on the road.
And for sheer solidity for a family member I'd have to include a Volkswagen Polo. Nothing flash, indeed quite bland in many ways. But built like a tank and will last and last.
This is a good time to be on the hunt because garages have taken in a lot of used cars over the past five weeks or so and 'lower budget' motors such as those you are seeking can be hard to shift quickly sometimes.
And dealers will be delighted to sell without having to take a trade-in. That gives you a distinct advantage because a cash buyer can always bargain harder.
I'm 26 and single (again) and want to treat myself to a little sports car with a foldable roof. I have a budget of around €10,000. Any ideas would be most welcome. Thank you.
Aidan: That happened me before. I bought a Honda S2000. Then I wound up getting married so be careful what you wish for.
Joking aside, the S2000 is a stunning car. Its 2.0 litre VTEC engine revs to 9,000rpm with the famed VTEC-surge kicking in at 6,000. It produces an intoxicating noise that isn't bettered by anything except for a 3.2 litre Porsche Boxster S; and even then I prefer the Honda.
The roof can only be folded when stationary and with the handbrake up, so be careful with the rain.
It's wickedly fast and rear wheel drive. Early models known as AP1 came with a plastic rear window. This scratches and fogs up. Try find one with the glass rear window instead.
Ignore the nonsense of boy racers who put fully synthetic oil into the engine. Only use manufacturer grade 10W40 semi-synthetic and change it often.
Also, ignore cheap tyres. Use something like Dunlop SP Sport-01 or Michelin Pilot Sport and you should be fine.
If the S2000 is too hard core, then go for the Mazda MX-5. Your budget will extend to a 2007/2008 model (mileage and spec dependent). The 1.8 litre engine is plenty powerful but the 2.0 litre is the sweetest of the lot. The MX-5 has exceptional handling. You might even find one of the folding hardtop versions, which reduces insurance premiums.
Eddie: My favourite would be the MX-5, I have to say. It is cute and a great little drive at the same time.
A few other exotica might tickle your fancy. The BMW Z4 would be one option but, unfortunately, there are only large engines (2.5-litre and 3-litre) at this price.
I used to love the Toyota MR2 with its great mid-engine balance; the 1.8 VVTi engine is the same as the Celica. Aidan and I were talking about this and he reminded me that you need to make sure not to really hammer this as it can overheat.
Enjoy your driving. Let us know what you decided.