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Independent Advice Desk Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions



Plenty of hatchbacks suit a small family with boots large enough to fit buggies and more

Plenty of hatchbacks suit a small family with boots large enough to fit buggies and more

Plenty of hatchbacks suit a small family with boots large enough to fit buggies and more

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.

Q We are preparing for our first child and need a car to match. We do not own a car but are borrowing one. Commute is approximately 30km/day. We want a 4/5 door with a decent boot (so probably not a hatchback). In an ideal world I would have a PHEV but I'm not convinced there are many to suit us. On the other hand, my fear of buying a petrol engine is that the resale value might be hit if we move to PHEV or EV in five years. I'm a sucker for a stylish car (for example, I would vomit looking at a Hyundai Ioniq). Budget approx €25,000.Gillian: Plenty of hatchbacks suit a small family with boots large enough to fit buggies and more. I would opt for a hatch over a saloon. Petrols are selling well; don't worry about resale value. Hybrids and electrics carry large batteries which usually take up boot space. With €25,000 and a plan to keep your car for five years, I'd consider a PHEV or hybrid.

The Kia e-Soul might not be your cup of tea either, but how about the Kia Niro EV? The battery is under the rear seat so the boot is spacious; not so much with the PHEV option.

I think a Corolla hybrid is the best place to start your search.

Eddie: Great news about the baby. Go a little larger than you envisage because the more the baba grows the more you'll need more stuff. I'd buy a Skoda Octavia petrol and not worry too much. It has cabin and boot space aplenty and holds its value well. I suggest petrol because your mileage doesn't warrant diesel.

I don't think you're are ready for the PHEV decision yet.

Q I hope to change my 142 Ford Grand C-Max diesel (110,000km). I do local driving during the week but cover a good distance every weekend to look after elderly parents. I have two tall teenagers so space is important. I am interested in an electric car. Would you recommend one or should I go for a hybrid/diesel?

Gillian: I wouldn't recommend electric for you. Hybrid or diesel are good. I'm not sure if you still require a seven-seater. If you do, then diesel is 100pc the way to go; choice in hybrid is slim and they are quite costly.

Other large seven-seater models to consider for around Grand C-Max money (€30,000 new) are the Citroen Grand C4 Space Tourer and Renault Grand Scenic. If you don't need a seven-seater, I'd opt for something roomy like a Skoda Karoq or Peugeot 3008 SUV, which has a wide back row with flat floor providing plenty of space.

You say you'd like an electric or hybrid. Consider a Toyota RAV4 (new model might be a bit costly so 'nearly new') or Honda CR-V.

Eddie: There is no point in trying to fit a square peg (electric car) into a round hole (large people carrier) - for now at least. Why not go for another C-MAX? Even if you don't need the extra seats you will have the space. If five seats are enough, then the KIA Niro PHEV is an option for a little bit of a budget stretch.

Q My husband and I are relocating to the south midlands. We have never owned a car in Ireland and will be commuting to work twice a week. I have consulted with a kind local mechanic and have been scanning 'Done Deal' for diesel Skoda Fabia or Octavia estates. I should think outside the box and value your opinions on what we should look for. Our budget is €7,000 for a diesel vehicle under 10 years old. Annual mileage: 30,000kms. I need room for 4/5 people. We don't have children, but have visitors. A roomy boot is desired for moving things. My husband is tall and corpulent (his words), so driver comfort and adjustability of the seat is necessary.

Gillian: I would opt for the Octavia over the Fabia for carrying adults. The Octavia estate especially is really roomy. You need a diesel, preferably a saloon for your husband's comfort but it may not suit. But how about the Skoda Superb as you seem to trust the brand or a Honda Accord? Both have tonnes of space.

The Honda Civic hatch diesel is an option too. There might not be too many though.

The Octavia is the way to go.

Eddie: It is diesel on the basis of mileage and availability. With a car in your age-bracket I tend to go South Korean or Japanese.

So the Hyundai i3 or KIA cee'd are contenders. The cee'd station wagon is the preferred choice here. You'll pick up a fine Toyota Auris 1.4-diesel for your budget. I agree with Gillian on the Civic. A Mazda3 could do the job as well. Final answer: KIA cee'd SW.

Q I'm retired. I want to trade in my Audi A3 quattro against a hybrid. Ideally, I'd like to have a cost-neutral exchange but €1,000 or €2,000 budget would be what I'd be prepared to pay to get the right hybrid. My annual mileage is 15,000km to 20,000km. I want to change to a hybrid to get much lower running costs. I ferry grandsons to matches regularly so a slightly bigger car than the A3 would be ideal. My trade-in is a 151 Audi A3 quattro, 2-litre S Line with sat nav, alloys and 119,000kms on the clock. What is it worth? Should I sell it privately and then buy the hybrid?

Gillian: I would suggest selling privately if you are hoping to add no more than €2,000 to whatever you get for it. Looking for a new car with a dealer without handing over additional cash is not really efficient for you.

There are people who'd be willing to pay good money for your model but the question is how often do they come along and are they there when you are ready to sell? You could be offered a good price by an Audi dealer but there is no Audi hybrid option for you.

While 20,000km isn't too high for a hybrid, I am not confident it will be "much lower" on running costs.

Anything you buy - and I suggest you visit a Toyota dealer about hybrids - will not have the luxuries on your S-Line; nor the capabilities of a quattro.

Eddie: I think you're on a lose-lose here if you don't get to sell the Audi privately for a good price. If you take a hit to shift it you could find you have taken one step forwards and two backwards. Fate. Your options are to hold onto the Audi for a couple of years or bite the bullet now. Test the private market but be prepared to take Plan B and hold on.

Q I might sound a bit fanciful. I would like a small, nippy Mercedes or BMW. I have €25,000 as I have returned from abroad and am starting a new job which requires around 500km a week driving. Should I import or buy locally (Munster town)?

Gillian: Buy locally; save hassle. You don't sound fanciful. It's a valid request. The obvious choices are a diesel Mercedes A Class or BMW 1-series for small and nippy but don't rule out 2 Series coupé or Mercedes CLA 4dr Coupe. My only concern is that there is a new 1-series and A Class and so with €25,000, you'd be buying the last of an old model, making the other suggestions better choices.

Eddie: Buy the Mercedes CLA 4dr coupe. It has style and decent room.

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