Saturday 19 October 2019

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


Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

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

I am a student looking for a car from 2011. I do about 25,000km a year. My budget is €11,000; has to be a 5-seater. Maybe an Avensis or similar; Golf or similar? I am currently driving a Highline 1.6 Golf 2010 and just changing as it has 230,000km and I think it's better to upgrade.

Gillian: As a student, you don't really need a saloon, although that's where good deals are to be had at the minute so we won't rule them out. Coming from a Highline Golf, you should stick with another high-spec model so, yes, another Golf Highline 1.6-diesel would be a good buy.

For €11k you should just be able to get into the last of the old 131 shape (so it's newer than your current model). I am not a huge fan of trading up to the same model, especially for someone so young. Buying and owning a car is fun, so I would change to something else personally.

A Skoda Octavia or, even nicer, Superb would be an option. A 131 in the Octavia (1.6d) or a 12-reg in the Superb would work; look for both in an Elegance or Style. If you could drop a few creature comforts in the Superb, you might just get a 131 Ambition (still a great spec). One that keeps coming to mind is a SEAT Leon 2.0d FR 150. You'd get a 132-reg for the money.

Eddie: I wouldn't advocate any of the larger models unless you have people travelling with you. I'd go for a Mazda3 diesel or a Honda Civic diesel. A KIA cee'd might still have a few years warranty left.

I drive a BMW 3 series with low profile tyres which are not designed for Irish roads. I am looking to trade for a 2-to-4 year-old. My budget is up to €20k. My primary criteria are: standard tyres, full-size spare, not a rear wheel drive and at least 150bhp. I do not do high mileage. I was thinking maybe of a Ford Mondeo, Passat or Audi A4 but don't know about full-size spare tyre.

Gillian: All three suggestions are good. I'd be a little hesitant about going into a Ford after owning a BMW; I'd steer you towards the Audi A4. The main seller was the 120bhp SE model, but there was a 150bhp model too. I'm not sure if the A3 saloon would be big enough for you but it's a fine motor. You could opt for a petrol, seeing as you don't do high mileage. A 1.4-litre 2016 model should just fit budget but maybe even go back to a 2015 and look for the S-Tronic. Most buyers of the automatic when new kitted them out with plenty of extras. If you could get an S-Line, you are on a winner.

As for full-sized spare tyres: since the introduction of CO2 figures, manufacturers try to keep the weight down so a space saver is the norm. You could be lucky and find one with a full-size tyre, but really it's down to shopping around for that.

Eddie: I'd be pointing you towards a Highline Volkswagen Passat or the A4 Gillian mentioned. Ask the dealer for a full-size spare. It might cost a couple of hundred euro, but I suspect you will be able to have it included in the price. The Peugeot 508 petrol (immediate predecessor to new one just launched here) is also worth a look because the French maker always tries to supply a full-spare.

I'm driving a 2009 diesel Nissan Qashqai; current mileage is 124,000km. My annual mileage now is only about 10,000km. With only one teenager left at home, I no longer need a large car. I am interested in going down the electric route and like the new Nissan Leaf. My only concern is teaching my youngest to drive, probably this year. It will only be classed as an automatic licence and I wonder if this is the best way forward. I also liked the height comfort of the Qashqai. My budget is about €25,000-€28,000. Please advise.

Gillian: I have had this discussion with my husband many times. My kids are younger than teens but I can see them only driving automatic be it a hybrid or electric. But we will insist on teaching them manual also as it is a skill that shouldn't be lost. Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric are taking off.

Petrol and diesel engines will remain, but some manufacturers have already made a switch to selling petrol and hybrid cars only: eg Toyota and Lexus. A Nissan Leaf sounds like a great swap for you from the Qashqai. I understand your concern, but your teen should take their test in a manual car.

This will require them to take 12 lessons from a listed driving school. Then get them to practice in your car for road awareness, as this is the same for manual or automatic.

As electric cars go, the Nissan Leaf is excellent, similar to what the Qashqai did for the crossover market back in 2007. If you want to hold off and go for a petrol model next, how about the new Toyota Corolla 1.2 hatchback starting at €25,995? It's a fine car but also comes as a hybrid, so maybe take a look at it also.

Eddie: Buy electric by all means, but I agree with Gillian on learning to, and being capable of, manual driving. It is never any harm to have the 'full' licence. I'd consider renting a manual for a day now and again so your youngest can get used to the mode. It will be worth the investment in the long run.

My wife and I have two vehicles: an Avensis 08 wagon (2-litre diesel), I use to commute three days a week and a 131 Hyundai i30, 1.6-litre diesel, which travels mostly in and out of town on the school run. We are thinking of upgrading the Hyundai within two to three years and are interested in the hybrid/electric options. We have been looking at the Toyota Auris 151, though dealers we've spoken to are looking for €11k along with our own which is slightly above our budget of €10k, preferably lower. An alternative is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, where we have seen dealers offering 15 regs for €17k. For the extra height, and getting a dedicated plug-in hybrid, is the Mitsubishi the better option? Are we missing anything in our search?

Gillian: I think you are focusing on the PHEV part too much on the Outlander and being teased by some crazy low advertised prices on it and crazy high prices for the Auris. The issues with online shopping for cars is that it covers everything from private to main dealers, asking prices including scrappage, straight-deal price, odometer readings that show up as kms when in reality they are miles and the list goes on.

Here's some advice. Your i30 will get you a trade-in value of around €6,500/€7,000 depending on spec and condition. A 151 Toyota Auris will set you back around €16k, again depending on spec. However, they are scarce so finding one might be difficult.

The Outlander PHEV has come back lately as Mitsubishi dropped the price of the new model and while there might be some out there for under €20k, I would be surprised to see any for €17k that have been well minded and in good condition.

If you are looking for a PHEV, the Outlander is a good option but you may need to search for a 142. Hybrid is probably your best bet for more choice, but still fairly limited. The Auris is a lot smaller than the Outlander so how about looking at a size in between with the Lexus IS300h saloon.

Eddie: With Gillian's warning and wise words ringing in your ears go and buy yourself a Toyota Auris hybrid.

Currently driving a 2017 BMW 330e M Sport. My commute is 43km each way. We have a six-year-old and three-year-old with another on the way. There won't be enough room in the back of the 330e. We've looked at the Skoda Kodiaq and I like it although with the back seats in use there really isn't a boot worth mentioning. I was hoping to go for a late 2017 or early 2018 530e and reckon I could import one, cleared for €37k-ish. The challenge will be getting the six-year-old to fit in the middle on a booster seat in between a Maxi Cosi and regular child's car seat. Ideally I'd like to avoid having to buy an SUV for a couple of years and then have to change back again. Any thoughts?

Gillian and Eddie: Sorry, but it sounds to us like you really need an SUV. It's not going to work too well with the 530e. With your eldest only six and a new baby on the way, you are more than a couple of years away from going back to a saloon. But you don't need a 7-seater.

Did you take a look at the 5-seat Kodiaq? It fits three cars seats in the rear and the boot is huge. The two outer seats can move forward and back. The Kodiaq is only petrol or diesel, however. So if are looking to continue charging at home and at work Honda might just have the answer with the new CR-V PHEV (from €39,500). The rear floor space is hump free so the middle passenger has plenty of leg room but it might be a bit of squeeze while using three child seats. The Peugeot 5008 is a 7-seater and popular. It can fit three cars seats in the middle row with ease and all three are fully independent of each other so shoulder room is no issue.

For times when you may need to use the third row of seats, the space is more generous than that of the Kodiaq.

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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