'Always loved the Qashqai, but not sure if we should go hybrid - what do you advise?'
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 are looking for an upgrade. Always loved the Qashqai, but not sure if we should go hybrid. Would love to hear your thoughts. Budget €20,000 to €25,000, annual mileage 20,000km. Need five to seven-seater for two adults, two largish dogs (travel in the boot of hatchback now) and one baby aged eight months. Potential of another within the next year. Present car, a 2007 Ford Focus hatchback with 268,000km, has been giving trouble the past six months. We would never have considered a new car until we started looking at the price between a three to five-year-old and a new one, and the savings between service, NCT, better car etc. I think are on the new car side of the fence. Currently looking at the SUV types, but really have no idea what to get. What is the best trade-in value we could get? Can you negotiate on the list price of a new car? Do dealerships still offer a good trade-in, good warranty and services? Finally, are the savings between hybrid and not beneficial?
Aidan: Best trade-in value? Ignore this. Focus on the final or net cost of changing instead. Worry less about what your car is worth and more about how much you are being asked to pay. Negotiate on the list price of a car? Yes, go for it. Do dealers offer warranty and services? Absolutely. We recommend buying something with lengthy guarantees. If discounted service packs can be availed of, certainly take that option and spread the cost of maintenance. Far too many people leave lengthy gaps between services and end up forking out hefty sums later on. Are the savings between hybrid and other engines beneficial? It depends, but a Rav4 hybrid should be in your crosshairs. For variety, look at the Ford Kuga, Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5. I mention those in particular because they are quite large SUVs without having to go as big (or as costly) as a Hyundai Santa Fe. If they don't suit, you might need an MPV. A SEAT Alhambra is a good choice.
Eddie: With the possibility of your family expanding relatively soon, I think that you are right to be looking at a change. Taking care of the dogs' safe travels as well suggests you need plenty of room that can be segmented. I'm just worried about what you'll get for your €25,000 max budget on PCP, which is why I'm going to suggest, if you can manage it at all, a Skoda Octavia Combi (estate) diesel. It has plenty of boot space for the dogs and family stuff, and plenty of rear room for child seats. Don't overstretch, but see if there's a deal going that suits you.
I've got a job in the north-west, which means that I'll have to get a car to travel from my current midlands base. I have €12,000 for a good used car. My round trip each week 350kms. What car would you recommend? I intend to rent up there and come home at weekends. I am 27, female and don't have a car of my own, but I do have the use of a family car and I have a full licence. I'd appreciate any advice.
Aidan: Choice is key here so stick with a big-volume product like the Ford Focus 1.6-litre diesel. Values are always moderated by supply, and you should have ample variety of mileages and colours. See if you can sneak into a 2014 model, but favour buying something properly prepared by a dealer who will offer comprehensive warranty. You might be better in a 2013 plate Zetec with low mileage and a full service record than an iffy 2014 plate lower specification model (called Edition) with higher mileage. Less numerous but still sensible choices are the Kia cee'd and SEAT Leon. Both offer good value for money.
Eddie: I have to mention a well-minded Toyota Auris 1.4 diesel and a 1.6 Honda Civic diesel. Good ones go for ever, but it's vital you get one that's been cared for and that you get a 12-month warranty even if it costs a few euro more.
I am going to change in July and I want a small Crossover - suits my back and my father's. I am single, 45 and have a 10-year-old Mondeo. What would you recommend on a €25,000-plus budget?
Aidan: The SEAT Arona is a particularly smart little SUV. It's keenly priced and kitted. You will have change from your budget. You can get petrol or diesel versions depending on your needs, but look at the 1-litre petrol Xcellence model in particular. The SEAT Ateca is bigger but I am not sure you need something that substantial, despite driving a Mondeo. What about hybrid? The Kia Niro is an interesting car, and it covers your brief. There is also the Toyota C-HR, which is a little more than your baseline budget, but it's tall, roomy, frugal, cheap to run and reliable.
Eddie: I get the impression you want a small hatch-like crossover, so I'd also try the Volkswagen T-Roc, the Hyundai Kona and the KIA Stonic. All have that extra bit of height but don't look tall and imposing. It's petrol all the way.
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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.