Thursday 14 December 2017

A right Note or new Micra? Up slippery slope? Out of Focus? Stick with Golf?

Our car industry experts answer queries from potential car buyers. Photo: Getty Images
Our car industry experts answer queries from potential car buyers. Photo: Getty Images

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 bestseller 'Clever Car Buying'.

I am a 6ft 3ins and 15 stone. I have been driving the same Nissan Micra since 1998. Reliable, economical, fuel efficient, if a little cramped.

We are looking to buy something a little more comfortable, space wise, but don't want a big car. I don't do big mileage; 80,000 total on the Micra. However, I am now using the car for work although only maybe one short trip a day in a small area of Dublin. My commute is a mere four-mile round trip. We still think a supermini is the right category of car for us as the most important considerations are value for money, dependability, reliability, longevity, low running costs, insurance, tax, etc. However, I like the idea of a high seating position as we're both just 50. My wife's only request, so far, is for four doors. I realise there are some contradictions here, but I would love your opinion on what we should be looking at and if new or second hand is the best buy. Budget is €15k-20k.

Aidan: There are no contradictions in your question. The market has precisely what you want. Look at the Nissan Juke. Not everyone's cup of tea stylistically but it ticks all your boxes. Furthermore, because it has been around since 2011, you can spend as much or as little as you like. Check all the deals on new cars and if there is a scrappage offer on your Micra. You might find a new Juke represents excellent value for money if you can get a good discount. Get an SV model with the 1.2 petrol engine. This engine was launched for the 142 registration so if you ultimately decide to buy a used car, then you can still opt for this engine/specification combination. Also, take a look at the Peugeot 2008 with the 1.2 litre petrol engine in Active trim. It is one of our most popular recommendations. It was refreshed in the summer but there are plenty fresh used models. If you want a traditional supermini, look at the VW Polo, Hyundai i20, or Honda Jazz.

Eddie: I just wonder if you could hold on for a few months? There is a brand new Micra due in April. I've seen it and believe me it is totally different and lots smarter. Failing that might I suggest a runout version of the old Nissan Note. Great roomy little car; more space than the Micra but not a big footprint. The existing new Note is not a bad option either even though it hasn't set the world on fire. Final word: Old Note or new Micra.

I currently drive a 2010 Kia cee'd estate (mileage 98k). I drive approx 10,000km a year. We live up a steep hill; the only way up in the snow is in a 4x4. I have three children and the climb isn't easy. My budget is approx €10k plus my car. My ideal would be a 7-seater with 4WD when needed. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Aidan: There is not much choice out there in the 7-seat four-wheel drive segment at this budget.

The difficulty with your circumstance is that your requirement for four-wheel drive is occasional. If your Kia cee'd SW is doing the business even 95pc of the time, then buying a 7-seater with 4WD might be superfluous. Look for a Mitsubishi Outlander. For a while, the Outlander also came as an automatic 4WD 7 seater. One of those would be lovely. If you want 4WD but can sacrifice having seven seats, then you have more options. The Nissan Qashqai has a 4x4 equivalent. Rare though. Toyota RAV4s at this budget are most readily available with 4WD in Luna trim. Lastly, look at the Ford Kuga (not all 4WD) and Honda CR-V. You might need to prioritise seats over grip or vice-versa but start with the Outlander.

Eddie: You need 4WD or its equivalent a few times a year. For the remainder you will carry around expensive technology and gear you don't need. It's a dilemma many face. I've driven a few cars, mostly Peugeots and a Suzuki, that had Grip Control. It just might be the answer. Grip Control gives 'off-road ability'. It is an enhanced traction control system with up to five grip levels (including Snow, Mud, Sand) which you choose via a central console knob. It comes with Mud & Snow tyres and costs around €375 on the Peugeot 3008, for example. I can tell you is it worked wonderfully for me on a really muddy/mucky incline - not unlike snow conditions. You can get it on the 3008 which is just a 5-seater. The 5008 7-seater has advanced traction but not Grip Control.

l am in my 60s, bought a Ford Focus 162-reg in September. The problem is I really don't like driving it. My last few cars have been an Opel Insignia, Renault Laguna and two Alfas. I would like to change the Focus in January. I drive around 10,000km a year and I could put €3,000 towards it. I drove a Nissan Juke on hols and really liked it. Would appreciate your suggestions.

Aidan: You will have to box clever to change for this money. Go back to your Ford dealer first and discuss options. Even though you are changing brands, they might be able to help. Then look for a Nissan/Ford garage - there are a couple.

The problem is that your car is still fresh and depreciation at this level is larger than for older cars. I expect the appetite at dealer level for 162 used cars in January to be low. They will be concentrating on the 171 plate and your car falls into the riskiest category of used cars. I am inclined to expect dealers justifiably looking to insulate themselves from a potential loss on your car and reflect this in your trade-in allowance. Might be better to hold off until 172, but price around and see what deal you can strike.

Eddie: Please tread carefully. You are about to lose thousands of euro if you change in January. I can't understand why you don't like the Focus. Did you not take it for a full test drive? This is a case of buying without checking if the car suited you isn't it?

I'm anxious for you because the car is worth a lot less than a couple of months ago. Is there any way you could live with the Focus for even a year? Otherwise follow Aidan's excellent advice. But try everything else first. There's a lot of money at stake.

I'm looking to upgrade. I currently drive a 04 Mark V Golf 1.9 TDI. It has 123,000 miles (UK import). I only clock up about 10,000 miles a year. Max budget is €23,000 (€20k I have plus hoping to get €3k for the Golf).

I don't drive every day as I cycle to work so the car is used mostly for trips down the country from Dublin at the weekends and for heading off to cycling events. The handiness of being able to drop the seats to fit the bike into the Golf without taking the wheels off is a real plus. The Golf has never given me one bit of trouble in the 9 years I have it and people are telling me I'm mad to want to change it but I just want something fresher. Have no kids so that will make a difference to the choices. Any advice would be appreciated.

Aidan: This might be one of those rare cases where a diesel car is still the preferred choice even though your annual mileage is low. Total annual mileage is one thing but the profile of your usage is what sticks out to me as being suited to diesel.

You seem to be able to give the car regular motorway blasts, which are needed to clear modern diesels' throats. It is hardly ground-breaking advice but what about another Golf? You know and love the brand and the Golf is the jewel in the crown for VW. Volkswagen made a concerted effort to sell more Highline models in the last couple of years and the benefit of this to used car buyers is that finally more used cars have all of the goodies. Another great choice is the Skoda Octavia. Even bigger boot but a similarly well finished car as the Golf. Your budget is healthy enough to buy a very fresh and well kitted 161 plate model. There are some great deals around if you are in a position to buy now. Sell your car privately, approach the deal as a cash buyer and see just how young and well kitted a car you can get. And just to scratch the itch I have to recommend a petrol car to you, look at the new 1.0 litre Skoda Octavia. Brand new to the market and worth considering.

Eddie: Volkswagen have a refreshed Golf coming next spring but in the meantime they have packed a lot of bling into the current one. You are happy with a Golf so stay with a Golf. I'd advise you buy new if at all possible.

Help us help you

WE love getting your enquiries - thank you. Understandably, we can't reply to all in as full a manner as we do with selected questions here. We deal with as many as possible via email too.

But you can help us help you if you include the following critical elements in your query:

* Total budget.

* Annual mileage.

* Size of car needed (seats etc).

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

* Phone number

Indo Motoring

Promoted Links

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Promoted Links

Also in Life