Advice desk: €70,000 choice? Same again BMW? 7-seater? Estate? Smaller Honda?
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 can now revert to being a two-car family. Our problem is as follows. My wife has an '08 Renault Laguna diesel (78,000km) and would like to trade it in. Her annual mileage is about 6,000km. She has a budget of €25k + trade-in. I'd prefer to run it into the ground. What do you think? I will have no trade-in with a budget of about €65k-€70k. In the past I've had three Mercedes E200 automatics which my wife would not drive. I've had an Audi A4 she loved. My requirements would be a big boot (golfing), proper spare wheel and a well-equipped car. I was thinking of the new BMW 5-series. I really love Mercedes. Would a different dealer allow me to take a demo car for a week? And if I did not buy then would I pay a rental? Can you please give us three or four alternatives.
Aidan: If your wife wants to change her car and can afford to, that's good enough for me. If she liked your old A4, then consider a used Audi A3 saloon. Seek out the 1.4-litre TFSi petrol engine model in S-Line trim. SE versions are fine, too. At similar prices, I would favour an SE with the S-Tronic gearbox over a manual S-Line. Alternatively, look at a Toyota C-HR. She can afford a 17-plate 1.2-litre petrol Luna model. She might find the hybrid version is not too far out of reach either. For you, it's simple. Buy an E220 AMG Line. It should be fancied on the used car market so that might help when to trade it back in. I doubt you will get a week-long test drive but you should not need one. It's a great machine all around.
Eddie: Your wife's mileage is tiny but the car won't make a lot as a trade in. I'd move now, get something for it and buy brand new if possible. It has to be petrol or hybrid. As well as Aidan's suggestions, how about Volkswagen's new T-Roc crossover with a 1-litre 3cyl engine? Or maybe a Golf with the same engine? So a choice of Audi A3, Toyota C-HR and two VWs for her. E-Class for you. BMW 5-series an option as is the Volvo V90 (estate).
I'm looking for some guidance for my BMW 520d (151), which will be three years old in January. I am quite flexible on budget. I say to myself I will keep the next car for 10 years, but I am a marketing man's dream in that I buy into stuff very easily. My annual mileage is 12,000km. I'm trying to decide between another 520d or the C-Class Mercedes. Your advice would be most welcome.
Aidan: The BMW 530e. It might be asking a bit much of your reasonable budget, but it would suit your needs. It's a stylish executive, petrol hybrid with loads of power. Hard combination to beat for someone doing your mileage. You should do better by sticking with BMW as well. Your low mileage 5-Series should be welcomed on the mileage-sensitive used-car market. The C-Class is also a good choice. There is a hybrid version called the C350E, but I think a C200 petrol automatic AMG Line is the route to go for you. However, trading down in size from a 5-Series might require a big adjustment. Try it out for size as no matter how nice it is, if it does not fit then don't buy it. I reckon another 5-Series is the way to go.
Eddie: Aidan is right on the button with the BMW 530e plug-in hybrid, but I think you'll end up going for the 520d, even though your mileage is low. The C-Class is smaller and you will miss the BMW space. As a total left fielder, take a look at the Volkswagen Arteon - it's half-a-step up on the Passat and has loads of space. But really it's the 520d for me.
My budget is €15,000 including trade-in. Annual mileage is 10,000km. I need a 7-seater. Present car is a Ford S-MAX 2008 with 182,000km on the clock.
Aidan: I'm conscious that I'm recommending newer versions of the cars readers are already driving, but everyone has chosen wisely in the past, so if things are not broken why fix them? Another S-MAX with lower mileage and in better condition with some warranty would be ideal. Also try to find a low-mileage 2013-plate Peugeot 5008 1.6 HDi Active model. The new 5008 has just launched, so you might find dealers enticing customers in the old model to trade-up and out of their cars. That should point to an increase in availability of 5008s.
Eddie: It is easy to be tempted, but it's probably best to stick with what you have, the S-MAX, for another stint anyway. However, if your family is growing maybe look out for the larger Ford Galaxy. And always worth looking at is the value-for-money SEAT Alhambra 7-seater.
I've a 10-reg Vauxhall Insignia estate with 200,000km on clock. Have it two years (30,000km/year since). My mechanic is suggesting I change now as he says they are signs of trouble. I like estates but am trying to balance the fact I do lots of short hops when I am home-office based (school, training etc) interspersed with long Galway to Dublin airport round trips (once a week minimum). I have looked at the Volvo V60 (151-reg 2-litre diesel) and older XC60 models. The Skoda Octavia estate (VRS version) and even the Mercedes CLA Class and A-Class are potential smaller options. My biggest question is about reliability. If I planned to keep the car for a minimum of three years - max five years - what the correct play would be? Needs to have five seats, cruise, Bluetooth, parking minimum and my other half wants to have a car she is happy to see in the driveway. Total budget around €25k including trade-in.
Aidan: When it comes to space, it is better to be looking at it than looking for it. Be careful downsizing unless you've really done your homework. The V60 is a lovely choice and the 2.0-litre diesel engine is reliable. However, your money goes a little further with the Skoda Octavia Combi. The RS version is lovely. You could compromise and opt for a regular 2-litre 150bhp version (preferably with DSG gearbox). Yet, for me, this is about setting your worries at ease with maintenance and warranty so opt for a regular 1.6-litre TDi Style Combi model. This maximises your budget best.
Eddie: You might also chase down a KIA Optima Sportswagen (estate), though they are scarce. The plus would be several years left on the warranty. The V60 you mention is a good option. Don't bother with the CLA or A-Class - too small. There's a nice Peugeot 508 estate (but few around). And let you both have a look at the Mazda6 estate. There's a car she'd like in the drive.
I am thinking of trading in my 01 Honda Accord petrol 1.8 SE. I have serviced it regularly and it's NCT okay, but my Honda dealer tells me it's worth only a few hundred euro. Should I try to sell it privately and go to the UK for another smaller Honda or similar? The Jazz and H-RVs I've been looking at on the Irish dealer sites are pictured with UK plates so they are doing it themselves. My mileage is around 5k/6k a year, so a smaller, well-equipped higher up-ish, small vehicle with a peppy engine (petrol) for good pricing is what I look for. I favour Honda for their reliability and spec but would appreciate your input. My current one is taxed until January and I suppose it's best to wait until 2018. Should I seek something from 2014-2016 or should I only judge the car by its mileage?
Aidan: A Jazz is probably too big a step backwards from your Accord, but if you are happy in one then it means you might get a new model, which would be ideal. I ran the numbers on the volume of HR-V imports as I was surprised they were coming into the country at all. It turns out that fewer than half a dozen have been brought in so that means it's not an exercise worth pursuing. Opt for the 1.5-litre petrol ES model on a 2016-plate, but be quick if you spot one. They are scarce and in demand. You might have to cast your net wider so in that case, look for a 1.2-litre petrol Toyota C-HR. It would be a nice alternative to the HR-V.
Eddie: Take half a step back and buy a Civic. On your mileage the 1-litre petrol version is ideal. It would be my choice. Hold until January to buy the Civic. You should dispose of the Accord privately. You won't get much, but it clears the way for a cash deal.
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