Monday 23 September 2019

Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Ask our experts


Gillian and Eddie help you make the right choice when buying your next car.
Gillian and Eddie help you make the right choice when buying your next car.

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 I bought a Land Rover Discovery in 2015 through a company I own. This was an economical way of buying a commercial vehicle for work use as I could reclaim the VAT. I would like to change in 2020 but I understand that this way of purchasing is no longer available so I'm wondering what my options are in terms of something similar to the Discovery with excellent boot space but also with back passenger seats. My budget would be a maximum €60,000 but I now worry that I'll be liable for higher BIK, plus I'll no longer be able to reclaim the VAT.

Gillian and Eddie: Yes, the loophole was discovered and closed with no similar replacement available to buy new.

If you could work with a Pickup double cab, then I think it would be the closest you will get. They are all relatively the same motor but the VW Amarok, Ford Ranger (high spec model) and Mercedes X Class would be top choices if you want something executive.

If you want a workhorse, then look towards the Toyota Hi-Lux, Nissan Navara or Mitsubishi L200. With these choices, the BIK won't increase, once it is used as a company vehicle.

The rear open space can be fully covered with plenty of height and style options and all will come in well under budget.

If you don't need such a large vehicle, have you considered the Hyundai Kona electric? It's a 5-seater SUV, fully electric model that will escape BIK again and come in well under budget.


Q We are a family of five with two of the three children using wheelchairs. We currently drive a 171 Grand Scenic S Nav. We just received a primary medical certificate so I know we will be able to claim VRT and VAT back. But I really don't want to drive a van. I was hoping for some advice on a 'jeep' with a big boot. Any suggestions would be great. Mileage is about 40,000km/year with long journeys to Dublin. Budget is €10-€15,000 maximum.

Gillian: My understanding is that you can claim VAT and VRT on a new vehicle or an import. For your budget, your best option might be to import something as finding one new to suit will be difficult.

I can help in telling you what to look out for. A Kia Sorento is a good sized seven-seat model that when the back row of seats is not in use, the boot is highly impressive.

Another option is a Honda CR-V, one of my favourite roomy SUVs. The VW Tiguan might not look as roomy but with the ability to slide the rear seats forward, access to large boot space is easy and there will be a good few of these across the border.

Eddie: Gillian's suggestions are great. I would add the Nissan X-Trail which has a lot of room. But do you really need an SUV or 'jeep' as you call it? Would you not continue with something like what you have - effectively a people carrier.

In terms of best value, I think you'll do well to look at the likes of a new-ish, well-minded Ford S-MAX or Ford Galaxy; the Citroen Grand Picasso (I don't think you'll reach a fresh Citroen SpaceTourer) is another good option. People carriers (MPVs) are not exactly prized assets on the market at the moment which means you could get great value for your money.

And the larger ones, such as the immortal Seat Alhambra, have great adjustable room. As well as that they are more easily accessed than many of the SUVs out there. Give it a bit of thought?


Q I want a two-year-old secondhand used saloon. I'm now driving 25,000km a year in connection with a small business. I refuse to buy new for a variety of reasons but mostly because a car loses its value so much in the early years. I have a 17-reg 2-litre diesel Passat with 60,000km up. My budget is €12,000 plus trade-in.

Gillian: You have a decent budget for another 171/172 model and I would start with a BMW 3-series. A 318d/320d in M Sport would be nice. You might need to go for a manual to stay within budget but there are plenty out there.

Watch the mileage reading as there have been a fair few coming over from the UK so if something looks to good to be true, ask some questions.

An Audi A4 would be at the top of my list too and is there for similar money to the BMW. Look for an S-Line but the SE model in both choices are common and still well kitted out.

I know I am going for all the usual choices here but a Mercedes C-Class would be on the list too but it really needs to be automatic and you should get into an Avantgarde Auto in budget depending on spec and condition of your trade-in.

Eddie: Gillian's choices are obvious for good reason: they do the business for a lot of people in your position. But let me suggest a couple of left-field options.

How about a KIA Optima? Great car; well specced; you should easily get into the revised version. The other I'd suggest is a fairly new Mazda6 - a lovely car and a fine diesel engine. And then there is the obvious: why not go Passat again?

Remember that top-spec models of the cars suggested are a lot less expensive but can do as good a job for you as the posh trio mentioned at the start.


Q I have a Volkswagen Polo petrol with 65,000km up and want to trade it in against a new hybrid or electric car (EV) as my mileage has come down a lot with the change of job. The Polo is four years old. I have a budget of €8,000 with trade-in.

Gillian: Your current car's km reading is perfect for its age and you will get a good price when trading in as they are always in demand.

With your added €8,000, your best (and perhaps only) new hybrid option is a Toyota Yaris hybrid. Prices start at €19,850 so you will need to add a bit more to the pot but it would be a sound purchase.

This price includes a VRT rebate of €1,500 that may expire at the end of 2019 so I would go to your nearest dealer soon for a test drive. There are no electric models in the price range unfortunately but if by "new" you mean new-to-you, then you will have more choice. I would still look at the Toyota Yaris but it will be the older model than the one I quoted for new.

For electric, I would suggest the Nissan Leaf, but again, it would be an older model than the current model range.

Eddie: I can't argue with Gillian on her advice and analysis. I'm just wondering if you should change your approach a little though.

You have quite an amount of equity so would you consider holding onto some of it and going PCP to finance a brand new electric vehicle?

There are pros and cons but it might be worth talking to your Renault (Zoe) or Nissan (Leaf) dealer about a deal. Whatever you do, however, make sure you are aware of all the implications of going PCP.


Q Could you give me three good options for a car for my son? He needs it to travel to work in the midlands - round trip of 50km a day. He only has €7,000 to spend.

Gillian: With €7,000, you have plenty of cash to pick up something solid.

The main issue is reg plate and not getting too hung up on it; €6-8,000 is the price range a lot of people sit at and you may find cars with two years difference selling for almost identical money.

I suggest you look around for clean, well minded, low number of previous owners and as close to a full service history as possible. Ford Focus, Toyota Auris/Corolla and Skoda Octavia are all serious choices.

Most models will be diesel for budget. You should be able to pick up a 2011 model in all 3 choices but don't worry if you find you are paying the same for a 2010 for the Corolla/Auris or Octavia if it's a mint one.

A 2010 Focus is an older model shape so I would stick with the 2011 for this one.

Eddie: My three are the Honda Civic diesel, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf in no particular order.

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