Monday 27 January 2020

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

Going electric: why it makes sense for one reader who covers 15,000km a year
Going electric: why it makes sense for one reader who covers 15,000km a year

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 Both of our children are under four. We have two cars and do on average 50,000km between us a year. One car is VW Passat 171 1.6D automatic on PCP, which is up in April, and the other is a 2012 Toyota RAV 4WD 2.2 diesel. We want to get a bigger SUV as the RAV we find small. We are involved with horses and need a vehicle that can pull a horsebox. The current repayments for the Passat are €375/month and buyout is €13,000. Nothing is owed on the RAV and our overall budget is €25,000-€30,000 (€20,000 loan with similar repayments to PCP). In terms of SUV, I am leaning towards a 4WD Santa Fe but I am unsure if I am best to trade in both vehicles, upgrade the RAV and look at a smaller second car, switch Passat for a VW SUV option (think they may be too expensive) and leverage RAV against smaller second car with the cash we have or buy our Passat and do single trade on the RAV for a Santa Fe or similar. Seeking advice on the best option but also recommendations of SUV and potential smaller cars with space.

Gillian: It is all a bit messy, but a real-life situation nonetheless. The current net balance from disposing of both vehicles is around €11,000, I reckon, without knowing km or spec, that you can add to your budget of €25,000-€30,000. So you have roughly €40,000 to spend on a large SUV and a compact SUV. By selling both privately, you can start fresh. I'd look at the Santa Fe 4WD Executive (2014) which will leave you enough money for a SEAT Ateca 1.6 diesel SE (2016) or VW Tiguan 2.0 diesel (2016). If you would rather trade-in would pitch the Passat against the compact SUV and the RAV against the Santa Fe.

Eddie: Lord, it is complicated. I had a whole spectrum of scenarios drawn up for you but you'd be half the year tangling over trade-ins and own-car values. So let's keep it simple. I think Gillian has it nailed but I would not sell both cars privately (sorry Gillian). You'll be driven mad. I'd make some salesperson salivate at the prospect of selling you two cars. I'd go Santa Fe for the larger SUV and see what the dealer (probably Hyundai) you buy from can do about meeting your needs for a SEAT Ateca diesel or something of that ilk. I'd wait a month until there's a reasonable build-up of traded-in stock and then make my move.

Q We're going to change next month to a new compact SUV. We've done a lot of research but seem to get more and more confused. One of the cars we've tried is the Nissan Qashqai but we'd prefer something that looks stronger. Without me telling you what other cars we've tried, could you give us your top three?

Gillian: I would most likely have had the Nissan Qashqai in my top three as you haven't provided a budget and the model has been around for so long it is sure to fit almost any budget. It also sells well in both petrol and diesel. It's a great choice. If you want a car that looks "stronger" I think you're looking for something German built. I would point you towards the VW group and suggest a Seat Ateca, Skoda Karoq or Volkswagen T-Roc. The latter is my favourite of the three.

Again, all come as a petrol or diesel and are priced around the same with similar levels of spec.

Eddie: I like the new KIA XCeed; the Ateca is good value and I'd have the Qashqai on the list as well.

Q Would I be better buying a three-year-old KIA cee'd or buying one new? You have written in the past about how much a car loses its value over the first couple of years. Seeing as the KIA has a seven-year warranty what make the better sense?

Gillian: The 171 (three-year-old) Kia cee'd is an older model. The new model launched mid-last year. You could go for a 182-reg if you can find one or a 191. It's true, cars do take their biggest fall in year one and two so in the long term, a used model works out with a smaller overall cost but who doesn't love a new car and a 201 plate outside the house will look good. With a new car you can order to your own liking; the colour, spec, throw in some additional extras and it's personalised to you. Another thing to think of is when you go to sell it on. Will there be more customers looking for a current decade reg plate? Does a 201 look more appealing than a 182/191 in let's say 205? So yes, I do often suggest that buying a two/three-year-old car makes more sense, but I also say every case is different. In your case, I say buy new.

Eddie: And I have to say buy three-year-old with low mileage. You don't mention your mileage but a three-year-old cee'd still has four years' warranty applicable. Save yourself a lot of money and buy a good second-hand one.

Q My daughter bought a Volkswagen Polo two years ago thanks to your advice. It has given no trouble but has nearly 100,000km on the clock now and she is anxious to change. As she has a new baby should she consider a larger car? She has a budget of €10,000 with her own car.

Gillian: I assume her current car is a 2013 going by the km. So she should have a budget of around €14,000.

A Polo is a good size for a small family but with buggies, car seats etc, something bigger might be a better fit. The obvious move is into a Golf but for the money she will only come up a couple of years. She could go all mammy on it and get into an SUV but without specifically requesting one, I would say stick with a hatchback.

My top choices are Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla/Auris, Kia cee'd and Hyundai i30, in no particular order. With Kia's seven-year warranty, if she could get into a 2016 1.0 GT Line, she would still have a good portion of it left and would be buying into something well specced. An i30 1.4 Deluxe 171 model might fit budget and would be a good option. Both also come in diesel. I am going with petrol assuming her Polo is. Anything above 20,000km might mean she should look at diesel options instead. A little more sensible are the Toyota options. She will most likely be looking at a 2016 but they will always sell well so it shouldn't be an issue. The Focus is a great middle ground between the others: looks well, priced well and will be plenty roomy enough for her family.

Eddie: I'd buy a well-minded petrol Skoda Octavia. It has the room and the boot to fit her needs. It's spacious and solid.

Q Would an electric car suit us for doing around 15,000km a year? We have a Ford Fiesta petrol with 120,000km on the clock. It is 10 years old and the worse for wear from carrying our two children.

Gillian: Yes it would and once you have your own home charging station and plug it in every evening, it will cover that distance with no stress. There are more and more new electric models launching in Ireland. Of course, there are some good used models such as the Nissan Leaf being around too.

Eddie: If your mileage is a regular 300km a week then go electric. If it fluctuates maybe think petrol. Assuming regular make sure you get a home charging point after you have purchased the car. Sounds like the Leaf either new or used might fit your bill. The newer the better for longer range by the way.


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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