Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Ask our experts
INDEPENDENT ADVICE DESK
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
Question: Thank you for your advice in the past. My son is returning shortly to work and live in Ireland after spending the past six years working in London. He is considering purchasing a car there before he returns. His preferred choice is an Audi A5, 2017, which is estimated to cost around £22,000. I am not sure if there is any major benefit in purchasing in London. He is of the opinion that if VRT could be avoided there would be a substantial financial saving. I would be grateful for your expert advice.
Gillian: He could be correct. Because he has permanently lived outside of the State for a long time (it cannot be for college or education purposes), he may be exempt from paying VRT on a car that he returns with. There are some rules: he must have the car in his name and possession for six months before returning; he must register it when he arrives; it must be taxed and insured and he cannot sell within 12 months of return. I suggest you check with Revenue that he fully complies before making any decisions. An Audi A5 would be a good buy. A5 2.0 dsl automatics sell in Ireland for around €35,000, making his cost to purchase hard to turn down. If he fits the exemption rules, I say go for it.
Eddie: It would be a good exercise to compare what kind of A5 he'd get for his money here in Ireland, in terms of spec, etc. It would be ironic if he could get a 'home-based' import for similar money. If that's not feasible, bring home the A5.
Question: It's time for our gorgeous 03 Mercedes CLK Elegance (unleaded, 220,480km) to go. We are in our 40s with two school-going children. We have €30,000-€35,000 to spend plus trade-in value. It needs to be solid and reliable for at least five years. Not fussy if 2- or 4-wheel-drive, new or second-hand. Ideally, we want it to be as reliable and safe as an Avensis in snow and ice, decent spec as we drive a lot, stylish, easy on tax and insurance. Our shortlist at the moment is BMW X3, Land Rover Evoque, Mercedes CLK, Hyundai Tucson/Santa Fe, KIA Sportage.
Gillian: Your first two options of the BMW and Land Rover are sticking with your executive perspective, while the Hyundai and Kia will get you a fresher plate. If you are worried about snow and ice, then why not go for a 4WD? You won't get a lot for the trade-in so I will work off your quoted budget range.
If you can afford to buy the Evoque (which you can), then do. It looks and drives well; in the right spec and condition, it beats most cars in its class. You will get into a 161/162, which is the newer version that launched late 2015. It's a 2.0 dsl so insurance should be fine; road tax is only around €280. Parts and servicing can be more costly. There is a brand new model just on sale.
I do like the X3 but there is a new model out and I feel at your budget, you are just missing out on it.
I would then jump to the Tucson. You can buy a brand new model with your budget. This will give you a five-year unlimited mileage warranty. Kia offer seven years on the Sportage so perhaps that's the way to go. In fact, the Sportage has a 4WD K3 1.6 dsl priced at €34,995 so that sounds about right. The Tucson dsl range starts at just €29,495 but their 4WD option is €39,245, so it's way over budget.
Eddie: I'd go for the BMW X3 as it is underrated. My pick of the lot for you would be a Mercedes GLC.
It has just been heavily revised so it is outside your budget as new. But you can use that knowledge to drive a better deal on a fresh 'old' one which to my mind is the pick of the SUVs in that class.
Question: I've driven a Nissan Micra for many years and am due to change now as I am getting married and we needed a bigger car. Our car is six years old and we would have €12,000 to spend plus the trade-in value. We need a saloon or hatchback. Don't want an SUV. Petrol. 12,000km a year.
Gillian: Assuming you bought your Micra new, it's a 2013 plate, so your full budget is somewhere around 2016 VW Passat 1.4 money. Your low annual driving doesn't require a diesel but finding a petrol saloon in budget won't be too easy, which is why I started with the Passat. You should pick up a Comfortline and look for one with around 60,000km. You'd get a car with plenty of room to grow into and something you can keep for many years. Another, but a smaller option, is a Toyota Corolla 1.33. You may even come up to a 2017.
More choice lies in family hatchbacks such as the SEAT Leon, Ford Focus and Toyota Auris. A 2017 plate is definitely a runner here. Actually, how about an Auris hybrid?
Eddie: I'd go for a Ford Focus petrol because there should be a good few out there. Otherwise, so as not to repeat Gillian's advice, it would be a Hyundai i30 or Kia Cee'd (if you can get the station wagon version take it) for warranty and value. I also think the Peugeot 308 would suit you.
Question: I am debating whether or not to spend €50,000 on an electric car or on a plug-in hybrid. We have a diesel car but we're holding on to it. I travel around 25,000km a year, mostly on rural roads, but I don't have a company car. Would I be able to manage on electric?
Gillian: I would go for the PHEV (plug-in) over the electric with your driving. Managing electric means knowing when to charge, allowing enough time to charge and realistically having a home charging station. It's not complicated but needs more thought than having the option to just refuel at a station.
For €50,000, your options include, but are not limited to, BMW 2-series, Honda CR-V, Kia Niro, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota Prius. So choices range from small to large and budget from €35/€40,000 and up.
Eddie: This time last week I'd have said PHEV; after that climate plan from Government I'm thinking maybe now is the time to get you into an electric car. But what car? Some are out of your budget but there are a few at the €40,000 mark too. There is the Hyundai Kona crossover (popular), the newly arrived Kia e-Soul and e-Niro with real-world ranges of 420km or so. If I had the money I'd buy the e-Soul. So I'm sticking my neck out: the e-Soul, followed by the excellent Kona and e-Niro. Sometimes you have to take a plunge. You'll be an expert EV driver in a couple of months. I'm getting stories from people who are doing 30,000km a year with their EVs, no bother. But if you still feel you're not ready for the electric start yet, go the KIA Niro plug-in.
Question: We have a baby on the way and need a small people-carrier or SUV. Our old car is a Fiat Punto and not worth much. We have €15,000 to spend. A friend said we might be better to take out a PCP on a brand new car. What is your advice?
Gillian: One child doesn't automatically require an SUV/MPV. Bigger than a Fiat Punto would of course be better but don't be fooled by the height of the body. Many are still fairly limited in space in the boot and head room for rear passengers. You can pick up something great for €15,000 without having to put yourself under any further financial pressure. Judging by "we" and not "I", let me assume it's a one-car family and that an MPV might not be to both parties' liking. Suitable SUVs are Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga. The Qashqai comes as a 1.2 petrol or 1.5 and 1.6 diesel. For €15,000 you would be looking at a four-year-old petrol mid-spec SV model. The diesel doesn't cost a whole lot more. The petrol is popular. Plenty of space for the baba and any more who might follow. The Sportage sold as a diesel and you'd be looking at a 2014 for a well-minded model. The Ford Kuga is one I don't often mention but they are value currently and worth a look.
Eddie: Get into a Nissan Qashqai 1.2-litre petrol. Best wishes to you with your imminent arrival.