Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions
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 My parents-in-law, both in their early 80s, wish to buy a new car and trade in their 152 Nissan Qashqai (diesel). They would like to stay with the 4dr, SUV-type format, but take a step down in size. I am presuming petrol is the better option as they are not so keen on purchasing a hybrid or an electric car. They drive 20,000kms/year. Their budget is around €20k along with the trade-in.
Gillian: They have a great trade-in and should get a good price from any dealer. Along with the budget, they have plenty of cash to get a smaller SUV. I like the Audi Q2; an S-Tronic (auto) would be good. For similar money you can pick up a larger model such as the SEAT Ateca or Skoda Karoq, but seeing as they want smaller than the Qashqai, I'd go the executive route. I am also a fan of the Volkswagen T-Roc. It wouldn't take all their budget for a new 201 model. A well specced Design starts at €28,395 for the 1-litre but I'd suggest they consider another diesel if they plan to do 20,000kms a year. The 1.6 diesel Design is priced at €30,650. But I would go for the Q2 all day.
Eddie: I like the Q2 but it is expensive, as are well-equipped versions of the Mercedes GLA and BMW X2. So I'd go Volkswagen T-Roc diesel or KIA XCeed diesel. I really like the latter. Other options include the Toyota C-HR hybrid.
Q I'll be changing my Volkswagen Golf next year when the new models come on stream. Current model is a Trendline 1.2 litre, 110hp, 161 reg with 28,000km. When buying it was possible to choose the higher HP engine. Now it seems the Trendline and Comfortline are both 1-litre 110hp and one cannot choose the higher engine unless I go for the Highline 1.5-litre 150hp. I'm aware my present model and the new one are 110hp. However, I understand the new Golfs are 3cyl with the exception of the Highline (4cyl). Surely, with the smaller (1-litre) 3cyl, 110hp it is going to be revving higher and noisier at motorway speeds? Most of my driving is urban with some longer trips now and again.
Gillian: The Golf has proved itself for many years. Volkswagen aren't going to mess that up; so I wouldn't have any concerns. Many other models now have this small 1.0 engine with around 110bhp. I'd suggest you opt for a higher spec than base model. The extra cost carries over to used-value; it increases the number of potential buyers when you go to sell.
Eddie: I think you are reflecting many people's concerns about such a small engine producing so much power. Technology plays a big role and allows compact engines to muscle up big time. I have to say the 1-litre VW Group engine you mention is better than most. I didn't find it noisy in any of the cars I've driven, including the Skoda Octavia.
Q I need to change my old BMW 5-series petrol automatic. It has served me well but is at the end of life. I live in Dublin, no longer commute, so lots of short journeys and the odd runs down the country. About 10,000kms a year. Second car is a Yaris hybrid, great car, economical, easy to drive. Herself loves it. So, I was looking for a small SUV type, a bit practical, room for grandkids, OK for the run, but good around town. Diesel is out. Must be automatic. Seat Arona, Skoda Kamiq, new Captur or Juke on my list. All small petrol engines. Toyota C-HR much better than I thought, but visibility out the back is awful. Now looking at Kia Niro PHEV, quite impressed, not wildly out of budget. Concerned about status of plug-in market in three years' time. Should I be? The car fits my requirements almost exactly. All-electric is too expensive, I don't need range anxiety.
Gillian: The Niro PHEV is a great introduction into the world of electric cars without the range anxiety you fear. I like the models from your list but probably the Juke the most. The new model has a more impressive interior. Next is the Kamiq. The Arona would be close behind it.
All models have similar 1.0 engines with similar bhp. Spec-wise, they all come with fancy entertainment systems (Bluetooth, Apple/Android compatibility, etc) and as you are buying new, picking up an automatic model won't be a problem.
Eddie: The Niro PHEV is my pick; I reckon it's one of the best-priced cars.
Q. I have a 171 Hyundai i20 with 2 years warranty and free servicing left. I'd like an EV but my head tells me I should wait for 2 years. I wonder about getting a home charger installed now as the grant might go. Your advice?
Gillian: Who knows what will happen the grant? My own feeling is it won’t get any more generous but you need an EV to claim a charger grant. I suggest keeping the car you have. The i20 is holding good money and with an average fall in value of around €1,500 a year, you won’t lose too much over the next 2 years. This wait will allow for more choice on the EV market.
Eddie: Take your time on the car. You’ll always sell the little i20 and EV prices will have to dip as smaller models and more of them come onto the market.
Q I drive a Mercedes, have done so for 20 years. I am 71. Lovely car. I have had no problems even though they have been imports. I currently drive a 2008 E220 Avantgarde diesel and it's 11 years old, bought seven years ago. Mileage is 120,000km. Including trade in, I have €25,000 to spend. I want to remain with a Merc. I want to keep this as long as possible, but talk of getting rid of older cars has me perplexed. Appreciate any suggestions.
Gillian: If you are a Mercedes' driver for such a long time, then stick with it and be happy.
There is talk of "don't buy diesel", "don't buy old", "everyone should buy electric", just like in the past we heard "only buy diesel", "don't buy new" and "electric cars will never take off". Throughout these periods buyers still bought petrol and diesels, new and old and so on.
I say buy what you love and what is the best value. There are certain things that just make sense when buying: right engine size, transmission, fuel type and age. You know how much you have to spend. But the E-Class is big, and I would suggest opting for something smaller so you can buy a newer reg-plate year. The obvious choice is a C-Class. Chances are you've driven one of these before; might it feel like going backwards? Your current model has low kms so maybe go for a petrol to change things. The C180 petrol is popular and makes almost the same money as its diesel equivalent. For €25,000 you could get into 171 Avantgarde auto. The CLA is not everyone's cup of tea; I like it. If you did go for another E-Class, you just fall short of getting into the newer model.
If you could come up with another €2k, an E220d is possible but only in a 141. I think the C Class is the better option.
Eddie: With €25,000 to spend I'd move in the new year to buy as fresh an E-Class diesel as you can. Why switch from a winning horse?