Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Ask our experts
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 22-year-old daughter will soon be starting work in Dublin. She will have a return commute maybe twice a month to the southwest, with some city driving otherwise. I want to get her a really safe car for the long journeys, new or second-hand. She's a good driver and has had her full licence for four years. She's currently driving an 07 1.4 Volkswagen Golf. Petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric?
Gillian: I would advise buying nearly-new rather than new. A one- or two-year-old would be the better choice. As your daughter currently owns a petrol, I would stick with it. For safety, the Golf was a great choice. I would suggest going for it again. Only at her age and if she was like me, she probably wants a change, but there is no need for anything bigger. I might start off with something a bit smaller, with a car that appeals to most women, the Audi A1. If she opts for the 5dr, she will have room for friends; a 171 model in high spec will cost around €18k. It will hold plenty of its value to put towards her next set of wheels. If it is a bit small, then she won't go wrong with a Hyundai i30. A 17-reg will cost around €15k/€16k. If she likes the idea of a compact SUV, the Seat Arona is a good option and 2018 models go for around €18k/€19k. There is so much choice but I am trying to stick with fresh models. If she wants a new car, the Toyota Corolla hybrid is a real option. New prices start at €26,370 but there is also a 1.2 petrol range that starts at €2k less.
Eddie: I'd add a fresh Ford Focus to Gillian's list, as well as a Mazda3. Two well-built cars and you'll get a decent deal on a nearly-new model. You might even squeeze into a demo Focus for reasonable money.
Q I have a 161 Ford Fiesta, Titanium trim. I would like to get a new automatic. My mileage (24,550km) is low. I go down the country about seven times a year. I want to change from Ford. I want a car as small or smaller. My budget is about €8,000.
Gillian: If we add the budget to your current car, you are looking at a sum-to-spend in the high teens. An automatic might make it a bit more challenging but let's see what's on offer. Assuming you want to go high-spec again, how about the Hyundai i10 1.0 Deluxe auto. It's smaller, and holds its value well. A similar model in the Kia range is the Picanto and the 1.2 is available in automatic. It is a new model, so it might be a better choice to the i10. A Mazda2 would be a bit over budget but the Executive SE Auto model is impressive. If you can stretch that extra few euro, then the Toyota Yaris hybrid is definitely worth considering. Hybrids are automatic so that's that box ticked, but it would be a great size and will save you some monthly running costs too. There is currently a €1,500 government grant on hybrids, so perhaps make the most of this while it's on offer.
Eddie: I'm a fan of the Toyota Yaris hybrid and I know owners who love it. Another well worth a look is the new-gen Nissan Micra. There is a CVT (auto) version (€20k+), but you might get a deal or demo model.
Q We're in our mid-sixties but retired. We're driving an 15-reg petrol Golf. We like the car but the boot has poor room and I'd like a higher car because my back/neck hurts getting in and out. We'd have €20,000 to spend and definitely want a good amount of comfort and safety items. We play a lot of golf.
Gillian: For boot space, safety and comfort, my 'go-to' is the Nissan Qashqai. Usually it's the answer for families who require space. But it works just as well for someone looking to carry the clubs and easier accessibility. SUVs can appear larger but, in reality, the boot can be a little cramped. The Qashqai is not one of these and for €20k you will be able to come up two years from your current model into a high-spec model. This is assuming your budget includes your trade-in. If not and you are looking to buy new or nearly-new with more than €30k to play with, then I'd steer you in the direction of my other 'go-to', the Peugeot 3008. Its width makes it ideal for golf outings. I would suggest going for the Allure model; prices from €30,850. For similar money you should take a look at the Renault Kadjar also. That extra cash will get you into an automatic, which you might not have thought of this time around.
Eddie: I find the Kia Sportage one of the easiest to get into or out of - but that is me and everyone differs in what suits them.
Which is why it is so important you try them for yourself for a good while; not just a quick sit-in. Try the Sportage (used and new); try Gillian's suggestions. And then try one more purely on value and decent interior room: the Seat Ateca. It doesn't look a million dollars but it's got a lot going for it - room, value and a nice drive.
Q I have a Volvo XC90 diesel 2012. It is battered and bruised but still going strong. However, the family has grown up and we only need four seats now so we're looking at a smaller car. Our budget would be €30,000. We want an SUV with style. Don't care for hybrids or electric, so diesel or maybe even petrol will be fine. Can you limit your suggestions to three please? It is awful confusing trying to find what is out there for sale.
Gillian: Those XC90s are hardy machines but you are right to make the move. So here are my top-three suggestions for €30k: A one-year-old Mazda CX-5 2.2 diesel Platinum SL. It's a nearly-new option and I think it stands out from the competition. If you wanted new, then the Skoda Karoq would be next, but you'd need to add a little to the budget for a higher spec than Ambition, which is still fairly well fitted out for €29,950. It is a good bit smaller than the XC90, so the Mazda might be a better choice. My last option is going to work off the hope that you have €30k to add to your XC90.
I suggest a Honda CR-V 2.0 HEV. I hope I haven't confused you but if you can get out around your local dealers (ideally a motor park/village), they will chat to you about what you should be looking for. I would also suggest putting your own car for private sale to make the most of its value.
Eddie: I'd go Toyota RAV4 hybrid, Volkswagen Tiguan diesel and Honda CR-V hybrid (or diesel if opting to go second-hand).
So that's six between Gillian and I - sorry but we don't always agree, as you probably know.
Q I'm just back from living and working abroad and I'd like to buy a new car. I have €40,000 to spend on something roomy and solid but not too large. Occupancy will be mostly myself and a friend. What would you suggest? We live in the greater Dublin area but would like to travel down and around the country at weekends.
Gillian: My 'large' and your 'large' might differ, so I'm going to give a few options in different styles. My initial thoughts when I read "solid and roomy" for €40k was an Audi A4. For the money, you would be looking at a fairly standard SE spec, which then led me to think perhaps a higher-spec automatic Audi A3 saloon might be a nicer choice. By higher spec, I mean top S-Line - half leather as standard and plenty more. The new Mercedes CLA is a nice one too, and well within budget. It's a 4d coupé so the styling is cool and sporty but with easy access to the back seats if/when needed. For under €40k, you will be able to pick up a well kitted-out model and could opt for auto if desired. I would.
Eddie: I've a different take than Gillian's on this altogether. I'd go for BMW 3 Series 320d - really fresh but used; Mercedes C-Class diesel, really fresh but used. There are good numbers of them out there. These are compact enough cars but are good to drive and pleasant to occupy.