Are you buying a new or second-hand car? Our experts answer your questions
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 Could you give us some advice on choosing the right car/SUV. We are a family of four (children are two years, and four months). We have a 2-litre 2009 Golf but are looking to upgrade. We need extra space so we're looking for something with a decent boot and as big a backseat as possible for car seats, etc. Our budget is €20,000 including trade-in. Our local garage is telling us the Golf is worth around €3,500.
We have looked at cars but think we would rather have an SUV for height driving and for ease of access to backseat for car seats. We do 14,000kms a year.
Gillian: SUVs are the main selling family car and yes, the higher seating position is 100pc a help. Your local dealer is bang on for your current car so let's see what €20k will get you. Petrols are cheaper than diesel equivalents, new and used. But the used-car gap is closing as diesels are suffering bad press. Your annual driving is petrol territory but diesels have been the main seller, so used petrol SUVs are scarce. You might need to pay good money to get one. Our family SUV, the Nissan Qashqai 1.2, is my first suggestion. A two-year-old would fit budget. Both boot and rear space are ample for your family. The Peugeot 3008 1.2 might just be outside budget unless you can stretch another €1,000. One I had on holiday recently with my own two kids was the SEAT Ateca 1.4. Well worth a look.
Eddie: You really should be looking at a petrol considering your mileage. That will largely determine your choice, as Gillian says. I have to agree on the Qashqai. It's a proven motor now. The 3008 1.2-litre petrol is a lovely machine too. And the Ateca is well priced. A petrol in any of those would do the business.
Q I'm looking at 2012-2015 BMW 320d models but people keep saying bad things about the car. I like the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class 220d. Also, I'm looking to buy from the UK. My budget is about €10,000. Can you advise? I drive an 02 Golf with 160,000kms on the clock. I'm currently doing about 12,000kms a year.
Gillian: People will always complain; there will be an issue with everything. I would have no concerns with a 3-series so long as it has a detailed service history and is running well. The only "bad" thing I would say about the S-series is they can be fairly basic on interiors. The A4 and C-Class might have the edge on it for this but the drive is good. They all sell for similar money in Ireland but I would be suspicious of any 2015 model you can pick up for €10,000. I'd expect that budget to pick something up closer to a 2012 and watch the km reading as they are all popular company cars that can rack up whopping kms and take a bit of a battering. Eddie: Yes, there have been reports and instances of 3-series trouble - but what car hasn't had them at some stage? Frankly, I'd not be bothered with a diesel version at all. There is a lovely 320i petrol and I think that's where I'd be steering you. I'd also fear your budget is going to force you into a borderline decision on a car and that can be a disaster. So I'm going to ask you to think differently. Trade in your Golf against a much fresher one - petrol definitely on your mileage - and don't be bothering yourself with potential trouble. Maybe next time go posh but stick with the tried and trusted this time around.
Q I am now retired and live down the country. We drive a Toyota Prius 2010. It has around 185,000km on the clock; it's going really well and was always Toyota serviced. We are thinking of changing but with the car we have a small budget of €5,000. We do about 15,000kms a year. Would you recommend change or let the car retire with us?
Gillian: My fear is you could be giving up a car you know is reliable and getting something that may (or may not) give trouble. The additional €5k isn't enough to come up many years or to get something as economical. But a change is as good as a rest as they say. I think an Auris hybrid would be good. Having always had your Prius serviced with Toyota, you will get good money on a trade-in. Ideally a 2013, but these are scarce so a 2012 is more likely. Not bad for €5k to come up two years that will offer peace of mind.
Eddie: I'd hold on. That €5,000 is going to get nibbled at from all sides and will not really get you that much more unless you are extremely lucky. Give it another year or two, seeing as your car is going so well. Its value isn't going to change that much over the next two years anyway.
Q We are looking to replace our Citroen C8 (2008). It's giving trouble. It's a 2-litre diesel with 200,000kms. We do 25,000km a year - a mix of urban and long distance. We're averaging about €2,000/year on diesel, €1,500/year on service, NCT, repair jobs, tyres and €800 tax.
Gillian: Your estimated spend on fuel sounds pretty good considering your annual driving. The service and tax can be improved by buying something fresher. I don't know your full budget but one of these options should suit: Ford S-Max or Galaxy, SEAT Alhambra, Renault Grand Scenic or Citroen Grand C4 Picasso. These are family MPVs that will suit a budget from €5k to €15k. If you have more than that to spend, I would be going for something along the lines of the Peugeot 5008, VW Touran or Nissan X-Trail. Some seven-seaters can be a little neglected coming from busy families so I suggest looking for one with a good service history and lower than average kms.
Most of the models I have suggested above have a 1.6 diesel engine option.
Eddie: I think the Volkswagen Touran could do the business for you. Great room and good for the wear-and-tear of family life. Gillian is correct: you need to watch out for signs of major use.
Q I'm 27-years-old and want to buy a new or fairly new car as I am not happy with my current 10-year-old Fiesta. I'd like to buy a Mini or a small BMW as I have profitably changed jobs. I have €30,000 to spend (loan and savings). I do 15,000kms a year.
Gillian: I'd buy a Mini over a BMW 1-series. You could opt for the 2-series coupé (I've a soft spot for it). I'd also throw the Audi A1 into the mix. €30k will buy you one hell of a Mini. The new model has launched with more options in spec so you will be sure to get one that is well kitted out.
The 2-series coupé is not technically a small BMW but as a 27-year-old with a new job, it sounds like an excellent choice to me.
If you do go for it, make sure to buy the M Sport version as it will hold on to most of the price you pay and make it saleable down the line.
With the A1, you can afford a brand new, shiny, high-spec model and it won't disappoint.
Again, these hold great residual-value money over the term of ownership and it's easy to see why.
Eddie: In addition I think you have to look at the Mercedes CLA. It's a car members of my family rave about owning so I'm just passing on their preferences to you.