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 am looking to buy a second hand car for my son in college. I have a budget of €5,000-€5,500 to play around with. He would like a diesel 1.6 or above with next NCT due in 2020 or 2021. Do you think our budget would get us something registered in 2010 or 2011? What would you recommend?
Gillian: Once a car is 10 years or older, it requires an annual NCT so let's look to find one as new as possible. Your son is in college so he doesn't need a family car presumably but still requires something reasonably sized, I gather from the engine size desired. Main dealers usually send this end of the market to 'the trade', so your best place to look is online car-selling websites. I know I said go as new as possible, so aim for the 11 over the 10 but it's hard not to recommend a Mazda3 in this case, which for the budget, will need to be a 2010 but that's still okay as the next NCT shouldn't be due until next year. It's Japanese and reliable. A Toyota Corolla would offer similar reliability, but I would opt for the Auris over it for a young lad. You would have to go for a 2010 again; they may be scarce as they get snapped up quickly. You can't go wrong with a Ford Focus either and you can start your search for a 2011 plate. Something along the same lines are the Kia cee'd and Hyundai i30. With all of them, make sure you aren't blinded by a good deal over high mileage. A lot of these cars have racked up plenty of driving. Look for one with full/great service history, well minded and average mileage for its age. A typical 2010 diesel model should have around 160,000km and 2011 around 145,000kms.
Eddie: That's brilliant model advice and buying warning, Gillian. I'd add another Japanese model - the Honda Civic if you can get one from 2010. I would reduce your choice to it, the Auris, the cee'd and i30. If you go a wee bit smaller I'd advocate the Mitsubishi Colt (2012 possible) and the Kia Rio (totally underrated).
Q I have a 171 Mazda CX-5 SE Executive with 60,000km. I`m looking to change in 2020 for a new SUV and I'm considering a Toyota RAV4 Luna/Sol or a Honda C-RV Lifestyle 2.0L. I`m undecided about a petrol automatic hybrid or a diesel Mazda. I will be driving around 15,000km/year from now on. What should I go for in terms of price and quality, bearing in mind I like a high spec and I would not go back to a conventional car?
Gillian: Your annual driving doesn't require a diesel engine so I would say the hybrid is a better option. The new price of each is: CR-V Lifestyle 2WD €42,000, RAV4 Luna €37,590 and the RAV4 Sol €39,590, making the Toyota a cheaper option. There is a higher spec in the RAV4 Sport, (€41,590) so it's the same as the Honda. Let's see what you are getting for the money. The biggest extras are upgraded alloys, exterior styling (coloured bumpers and spoiler), multimedia upgrades including sat nav/voice recognition, interior mood lighting, electric/heated seats etc, so go high spec for sure. The Honda Lifestyle has many of these but lacks some. You would need to go Elegance for the mood lighting and heated seats - an additional €3k. So, value for money lies with the RAV4 but the C-RV is fresh looking and just pips the post for me.
Eddie: I'd probably nudge the RAV4 (just to be contrary, Gillian). It's a tight call. One car I think is well worth considering too is the KIA Niro plug-in hybrid. It's really well specced and I think is top value euro-for-euro. Give it a drive. As Gillian says, you don't need a diesel; hybrid is your answer.
Q I'm currently driving a 2003 VW Golf 1.4 petrol. I've covered 9,000km in the past 12 months, average is under 10,000km. It's mainly short city driving with the occasional longer motorway drive down the country at weekends. Maintenance costs are generally low but it's coming up to NCT time again and I'm weighing up my options. Budget is €20k but it's not a rigid limit.
I need room for mountain bikes, baggage etc. I've thought about a Skoda Octavia RS or similar. I'm open to the idea of an EV, but the Nissan Leaf/BMW i3 seem small. Perhaps a hybrid like the Toyota C-HR? I'm not opposed to new but would prefer used. How reliable are second-hand EVs or hybrids?
Gillian: Used EVs and hybrids are as reliable as any other fuel-type model. It's not something to be concerned about. But you don't need one. You need space and these models can't beat petrol/diesel models just yet. When reading your question, I was thinking Skoda before you mentioned it. I wasn't thinking RS though but yes: go for it. You are at a funny point with your budget; €20k will get you the last of the old model - nothing wrong with that - but would a newer model 171 be worth an extra €3k? If it is and you can, I would.
I suggest looking at the new Honda Civic; a one-year old is possible. The engine might sound small as a 1.0 but it manages an impressive 129bhp.
Eddie: You need a petrol estate. So go for the Skoda Octavia Combi for bikes and baggage: great luggage area. Do not bother with the RS. Another big contender is the Kia ceed estate (SW) petrol. Stick with the idea of an estate.
Q I know virtually nothing about cars and am overwhelmed by choice. I have test driven a few but find it unhelpful as it's so short. I'm keen for a reliable hatchback with low running costs, tax and insurance. My car is slow to accelerate, so responsiveness is important. I test drove a hybrid Toyota and found it a bit slow that way. Also a new Nissan Micra 2018 which was going for €12k - I liked the look of it. Style is important. I like the new Fiesta/Focus Active where the seat is higher but it's out of my price range. I also like the Fiat 500 SUV style but are Fiats unreliable? Hyundai is recommended to me, as is Toyota. I am overwhelmed. I wouldn't drive a Volkswagen on principle. I don't like the look of Skoda but haven't driven one.
Budget (including trade-in) €10,000 or finance for a 0pc deal. I don't think my car - Ford Focus 2000 with 71,000 miles and giving trouble - has much trade-in value. Annual mileage: around 10,000km. I want a hatchback.
Gillian: I am going to narrow this down. You want a reliable petrol hatchback with styling and high seating for around €10k. The 2018 Micra you found for €12k is a super deal. If you can push the budget to that, I would go back for a longer test. The salesperson will be happy to accommodate.
Just check it has average mileage. The new Fiesta is out of range but the Focus has been around since 2012 and for €10k, you will get a 2014 model. Shop for a suitable spec for your needs. I recently had a Skoda Fabia out for a spin and to be honest, the styling isn't something I'd get excited about either but the seat height makes for enjoyable driving and you could go a bit newer than the Focus and pick up a 2016 model. The unreliable stigma attached to Fiat is long gone; the 500 is a fine little motor but the 500X (SUV model) wasn't a huge seller. The Hyundai ix20 might just tick the boxes. It has a lot of what you're looking for and sells well. The Renault Captur has nice styling and higher-than-standard seating.
Eddie: Keep it simple. Buy the new Micra; style, room, pep and fairly well priced.
Q I've €30,000 to spend on a new or fairly new car. My boyfriend says I should buy a Volkswagen Golf GTi but I want something that looks better. I am not that interested in driving performance. What should I do? My current car - a Ford Focus from 2009 - is going to a younger family member.
Gillian: I agree with you but understand your boyfriend's love of the GTi. Without wanting to sound sexist, it is a lad's car. You have a substantial budget to work with and I would suggest you go for a one-year old rather than new, purely because there is a good choice of 181 models around and I am confident you will find a deal. I assume you want/need a petrol so how about a Mercedes CLA? It's a 4d coupé and looks fantastic. You could buy new as they start at €29,585 for the base model but I would opt for the higher spec Urban at just €1,000 extra. An Audi A3 saloon would be my next choice. Opt for the 1.5 S-Line in a 181/182. You could go down the road of Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series but you will need to go a bit older and they might be larger than you need. They also sell mainly as diesel. The CLA wins for me.
Eddie: CLA it is then.