Saturday 16 December 2017

8/9 seater needed; buyers beware; switching from our diesel Mondeo

Citroen SpaceTourer
Citroen SpaceTourer

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car.

We are in the process of shopping for an 8/9 seater car. We have six children - aged 12, 11, 10, 8, 5 and 5 months. Our current car, the Volkswagen Caddy Lite (7-seater), no longer meets our requirements for family outings. Our budget is €40k-€50k and our annual mileage is 40,000km. Our Caddy is a 141-reg with 95,000km. We will sell that privately. I'm not a big fan of the bus-like appearance of many of the 8/9 seaters on the market but understand that I'm restricted in choice. We need two Isofix points - one in the rear row of seating and a second in the middle row. It would be great to have leather upholstery as car seat covers don't work for me. We are also looking for a fuel efficient car (diesel preferably) and a shorter wheelbase (without compromising on space). Please recommend a make/model of car that best meets our requirements. We have been told about multimac car seats which means we can use a 7-seater car as an 8/9 seater. It's certainly an option for us.

Aidan: While the seating system you mention sounds intriguing and seems to conform with European safety criteria, it won't solve the problem of space for luggage. Furthermore, I would worry about how close the occupants sit next to one another. If the width of the vehicle was designed for three occupants abreast, then squeezing in a fourth means everyone has less shoulder room than factory standard spec. I know your children are mostly small now but you need to future proof your car needs.

The new Citroen SpaceTourer, Peugeot Traveller and Toyota Proace Verso share the same platform and are really good options.

They are built to be more akin to their MPV car counterparts rather than reworked van chassis with seats instead of an open cargo area. I will leave you to decide whether or not they have succeeded on aesthetics but I am confident you will like the price, size, seat flexibility, leather interior, frugality and overall package in any of them. The 2.0 litre diesel engine is the latest Euro6 unit so it should be fuel efficient. Regardless of which model and size you choose, you won't spend the upper limit of your budget. That's not something we get to say much on these pages.

There are offerings from Renault and others but you already own a VW so the Shuttle deserves a mention. You know the VW product. It's solid, refined, and comfortable, isn't it? Why not go back to your VW dealer and see if you can strike a good deal on a Shuttle. Sorry, I know you want to shoehorn yourself into a regular car, but there is a tool for every job and the 8-seater minibus is the tool you need.

Eddie: Be careful of 'miracle' seating arrangements. Ask yourself if you'll have enough anchor points and/seat belts? I sense your frustration but safety has to come first. I think you have to work with what's practical and sensible. Bluntly my advice is to go for the newest out there.

That includes the Citroen SpaceTourer, Peugeot Traveller and Toyota Proace Verso. There are several variations of these with all sorts of different seating combinations. This is a huge call for you as you want not only room and flexibility but the safest form of transport you can find. Put those at the top of your list and you won't go far wrong.

I read with interest your article on key steps to making sure one gets the best used-car buy. A few queries. How does one make sure for definite that there are no payments outstanding? Does 'clocked' car mean the mileage has been tampered with and falsely reduced? If a car is being purchased from a dealer how does one check that the car has a complete and authentic service history? Likewise if a car is being purchased directly from an owner how does one check that the car has a complete and authentic service history?

Aidan: I work with car-history check data quite a lot and I think most of your queries can be covered by purchasing a vehicle provenance report.

It's basically a history check that highlights anything untoward with the vehicle, be it write-off history, usage as a taxi, expired NCT and tax (great for spotting fraudulent documents) and loads of other details besides.

Not all history checks come with finance reports, so you need to pay extra for one of those. You might have to wait up to a day for a comprehensive finance check, depending on the time of day in which you run the query. Some history check providers give you odometer readings to help spot 'clocked' cars. Sometimes these are taken when the car is presented for NCT and sometimes they are voluntarily offered. I am sceptical about the true validity of this aspect of the report. I think the odometer is still too easily manipulated to be 100pc cast-iron guaranteed but that's for another day's discussion.

A verified service record that is up to date should be enough to assuage any fears.

Don't accept a letter written by a private seller claiming that the car does not have outstanding finance. The bank who owns the car would beg to differ. A dealer must uphold The Sale Of Goods and Supply of Services Act, so you are always in better legal standing going that route.

Eddie: Yes a 'clocked' car means the odometer has been interfered with. By all accounts there is a lot of it out there. As a general answer to some of your many questions (we just don't have room for them all) be aware that buying privately is much riskier than from a licensed outlet.

Simply put: if the private seller can not meet your demand for official documentation or answer your questions in full you would be mad to spend your money.

You sound like a person who likes each detail verified. I salute you. There would be fewer heartbreaks if everyone followed your example. Aidan has given extensive advice to you on this, but you if you are buying something (especially privately) and you have a niggling doubt then walk away as the chances are your doubt is well-founded.

All that's going on in the motor trade I'm getting confused, so your expert help would be greatly appreciated. Both my wife and I are retired and can avail of the free travel pass. I drive a 2012 Ford Mondeo 1.6 diesel doing about 8,000kms a year and currently have 78,000km on the clock. I'm wondering has the time to change arrived and if so to what? Budget would not be an issue and the only requirement would be a boot large enough to take my golf bag and trolley. Your opinion would be invaluable.

Aidan: You are doing such small mileage and the Mondeo is good for another while so you don't hurry. However, you don't need a diesel. So, how does the Lexus CT200h sound? It's a hybrid, which you arguably don't need either; but it's a bit of posh, doesn't cost a fortune, has an automatic transmission, and you can get a used one if your budget won't stretch the €35,000 or so for a new Executive model. However, if you have this much at your disposal, then I think Mercedes CLA is worth a look. They swiped 10pc off the new prices of their cars until March 31. Go for the CLA 200 Urban. It has the same engine but a bit more poke than the CLA 180. The Audi A3 Sportback or saloon would be lovely, too. Go for the 1.4 TFSi with the S-Tronic gearbox. A most underrated combination.

If you fancy an SUV, then look at the Honda HRV or the Toyota C-HR. Both lovely. Both roomy enough for a trolley and golf bag. Don't snub the 1.2 litre C-HR because it sounds underpowered. It's not. If budget really isn't an issue, then go for a petrol C Class or a Lexus IS300h. Good deals on both of them at the minute.

Eddie: I've steered a good few people towards an Audi A3 saloon for the very reason you highlight - you'll get your golfing stuff into the boot. And they have been delighted.

Initially they had a bit of adapting to do going from a larger saloon but on your mileage and with the free pass, a tidy little Audi is just the job for you I think.

Aidan's other suggestions are, as usual, excellent, but I'll stick with the good experiences of people who have made the switch.


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).

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