Monday 21 October 2019

Advice desk: Automatic car; friendly deal; small petrol car; three good SUV options

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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Q: I want a new car with automatic transmission. I have roughly €30k to spend including selling my car - a Toyota Avensis 131. I do 35,000km a year, mostly on motorway. I have looked at so many car reviews I can't decide. I like the Honda Civic auto diesel.

Or what about the Toyota Corolla hybrid?

Gillian: Yes to both. The Corolla automatic is a 1.8 hybrid and ranges from €26,370 for the base spec Aura to €32,290 for the highest spec Luna Sport, but for €30k I would suggest you opt for the Sol model.

If you want more room and go for a Toyota, then there is a 4d saloon option and for budget you will get a Luna Sport model.

The Civic you should opt for is the 1.6 dsl and again, it comes as a hatchback or saloon and automatics start at €27,895.

Both have been in competition for many years and both have been updated recently. My money would be on the Honda but only marginally.

Eddie: Same here, Gillian, though strategically the hybrid is the better option because it nudges you closer to having an electric car in the near-enough future.

Q: My friend is prepared to sell me her Ford Focus 2014 diesel for a nominal sum because it will save her money on the deal she is doing for a new car. I need a cheap car after a bad experience with my previous one (now scrapped). I'd like to know what I should be paying for my friend's car.

There are 89,000kms on the clock and she has minded it well. I'm just worried that something could be about to go wrong and leave me with a big bill. But I don't want to insult her by asking for a mechanic to look at it. Any suggestions on what I should do? Should I not buy it at all?

Gillian: You simply must ask for a mechanic to look it over unless she has had it serviced recently and the NCT is current/very recent. She is buying a new car and has security of a warranty. You need some level of security too.

She should have no issue with it and if she does, you would wonder why.

If it's running well then you could be passing up a bargain.

The Focus is a good buy and the km reading is below average. Without knowing the exact spec and condition I can't give you a definite value, but she could sell it privately for around €8,000-€8,500.

So if she is asking you for less and the mechanic is happy, go for it.

Eddie: This is all about how you broach the subject. So I suggest you ask straight up if it is OK to get it checked because you don't want anything to sour the deal.

Say you are sure it is fine but you don't want either of you to be disappointed if something were to go wrong just prior or soon after purchase.

Say you'll pay for the check up and give her a copy of any report that follows.

You can assuage fears too by flicking through the service record to make sure the car was well maintained.

On the face of it this looks like a win-win situation but, being an old cynic on these matters, I would be ultra careful and have everything checked.

Q: I have a Toyota Corolla diesel 12-reg and want to trade in against a small petrol car as I am only doing 10,000kms a year since retiring. What would you suggest?

Gillian: There are so many to choose from, but a Toyota dealer would be more than happy to take your Corolla in against a Yaris so it's a good place to start.

The new Nissan Micra is another one I would opt for but only if you have more money to add to your trade-in. The older model is quite dated looking now. I would rather the Yaris to it.

Both have a small 1.0 engine and while you want something small, perhaps you still want a bit of power, so the Mazda2 would be next on my list.

Eddie: All good options. Naturally I would add a Honda Jazz to the line-up of possibilities. I think it would suit you down to the ground. You might pay a bit of a premium or drop back a year but it is worth it.

Q: Could you please give me three options for a mid-size SUV? I have a Nissan Qashqai (151-reg) and want to change to something that looks more SUV like. My budget is €25,000 plus trade-in.

Gillian: I am going to sound like someone from the VW Group marketing team here, but they have this market sussed at the minute.

The VW Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq and Seat Ateca are all mid-size SUVs that will fit your budget in a new model with good specs. Each one has its own merits and you would be better off taking each for a spin rather than reading me on which one has what. The SEAT has the lowest price tag but will also have the lower re-sale price as these things always level out, so don't get too hung up on that.

Eddie: Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4 strike me as being that bit more 'SUV' looking. There is such choice but these six suggestions leave you with plenty to be getting on with.

Help us help you

WE love getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:

⬤ Budget (including trade-in).

⬤ Annual mileage (in kms).

⬤ Size of car required (number of seats).

⬤ Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.

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