Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions
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..
Q I have a 04 Fiat Stilo (owned from new) which puts me in scrappage rather than trade-in territory. My budget would be in the region of €15,000-€17,000. I mainly use the car at the weekends around the city with a trip North once a month. My annual mileage is about 12,000km. We are a family of three so I don't need a huge vehicle but I have a nine-year-old who is growing like a weed so rear passenger leg-room would be important
I've also had back problems in the last few years so recommendations of models with good lumbar support would be appreciated. The option of electric/hybrid vehicles is obviously in my mind but I may be priced out of that category. I haven't much experience with other makes/models so am open to all suggestions.
Gillian: A Toyota Auris hybrid is the first car that comes to mind. Your budget will get you into a 2016. It is roomy enough for the family and two adults can comfortably sit in the rear so your growing son should have no issues. Most current models have the ability to mess around with lumbar support, including the Auris so once you are the only driver and no one readjusts, you should be able to find the right setting.
Hondas are well known for being roomy so how about a Civic or maybe a Skoda Octavia, although they don't look as sporty and will be less popular in petrol?
Go back to Honda and take a look at the Jazz. You don't need a big car as you said but while this one is small it offers lots of space and you could get a nearly new model which will still have some manufacturer warranty.
Eddie: I'd point you towards a Kia Ceed hatch. Underrated, it's got good room and, important for your budget, will have a good few years of warranty intact. I think you need this size of car and if you get the chance, take a Ceed estate (SW).
Another underrated car is the Opel Astra 4dr. It's smaller inside than most rivals but lovely to drive.
Q I'm thinking of changing my reliable 2004 Honda Accord 2.0 VTEC petrol. I've held onto it because it is so reliable. I am probably going to change next year but would like to buy another Accord or another car that is reliable. My budget is €10,000-€15,000; annual mileage is 20,000km. My car has 240,000 miles on the clock. Your advice would be appreciated.
Gillian: Reliable they are; popular not so much any more. My fear is that while you will pick one up for good money, how long do you plan to keep it and how much value do you want it to hold? The Accord disappeared off the new price list in late 2015 so it looks dated now.
I suggest you look at a Mazda6 or Kia Optima. The Mazda6 has a 2.2 diesel engine like the Accord but the Optima has a 1.7 so you will save a bit on fuel with this one too.
Eddie: Don't buy another large-petrol car. You'll be robbed (I think you'll admit the Accord is thirsty). With your mileage, I'd take two routes: hybrid or diesel. Hybrid? Toyota Prius (old model unfortunately on your budget). Diesel: a reasonably fresh Peugeot 508 diesel which is another underrated car out there. A well-minded Hyundai i40 might suit too.
Q I have just retired and my car is parked up a lot of the time.
I do the odd drive to Dublin or Galway with the occasional day tour. I drive a 161 Hyundai Tucson 1.7 diesel. I like the SUV because of the height of seat which makes it easier for me to slip in and out.
I was thinking of the Suzuki range, the Vitara or Baleno. I don't think I want to go electric.
I'm a biggish sort of person so space and comfort in front are important to me.
Gillian: I love the Vitara and it's a car I don't mention enough. Coming from the Tucson, you should be OK with the interior and the on-road drive. It recently had a facelift which has improved the interior a lot.
The Baleno might be too low. While it is a spacious hatchback, I'm not sure it'll meet your want for SUV height. This one might be a little mad or not, but Suzuki has also released the new Jimny - in the UK primarily.
As you are of retirement age, it might work for you. It resembles a small Land Rover Defender.
It is cheap, high off the ground but perhaps not great for comfort.
Eddie: I'm concerned about you having enough room in any of Gillian's suggestions apart from the Vitara which is OK but a bit cheap-n-cheerful. There is no point in downsizing if you are going to feel cramped.
So let me suggest something from left-field: a Dacia Duster. You'll buy a new one for around the €20,000 mark and it is quite roomy up front.
Q What is my best chance of a good deal in a new or recently new 5dr petrol hatchback? I'd like something smart and economical with a bit of room because I am often the designated driver for a few friends at weekends. I'm giving my current Ford Fiesta to a family member for a nominal sum.
Gillian: We are a few months into the second reg plate of 2019 and in a quiet year for new car sales. First you need to decide what model you would like and then my advice is to shop around to see who is offering the best value.
As a cash buyer you have some power, especially if you are willing to take a model already in stock rather than ordering to a specific spec, colour etc. There will also be some deals on one-year-olds but the mileage might be high, so be sure to watch for that. A typical 181 petrol hatchback will have around 30,000km. A petrol that is smart, economical and spacious sounds like the Honda Civic, Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla. All prices are around the same new and will hold their value equally well second-hand.
Eddie: I'd add the excellent and often underrated (sorry for repeating that word so much this week) Ford Focus. And if you can get your hands on a decent Volkswagen Golf you should give it serious consideration. My choice, however, would be the Ford Focus.
Q I'm in my early 30s and want to buy my first electric vehicle. I have €30,000 of a budget and no trade-in. I need as roomy a car as possible and plenty of range because I don't want to be plugging in every day. My commute is a 100km round trip. Or am I being too optimistic?
Gillian: If you're buying electric, especially new, you need a home charging station. This will eat into the budget a bit but there are grants available to help.
Your options include the original roomy electric Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Hyundai Ioniq. The i3 has a radical look and is not everyone's cup of tea. I suggest you take the other two out for a spin, ask the dealer all the questions you have and go from there. Be sure to find out about the fastest charge available and how to make the switch to electric as easy as possible.
Eddie: Your choice, as Gillian has outlined, is relatively limited as of now. Along with Gillian's suggestions you could look at the Renault ZOE which is smaller but less expensive.