Car for coming home? 'Jeepy' car for wife? Changing Audis? €10k buy?
Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.
My husband and I are returning from the US at the end of the summer and are looking for a suitable car. We will have no trade in. We will be commuting, mostly motorway driving, and will be clocking up 30-35,000km/year. We were thinking diesel, minimum 2-litre. Also need something comfortable and nice to drive; possibly will go with an automatic for the first time due to the long-range driving. We had our eye on the Mercedes CLA 2.2, 170bhp auto - a 172 reg potentially, but how would this car fare with long-range driving? We are not fond of BMWs and although we like Audi's they seem expensive, but we figure it could be nice to drive a Mercedes. What would you recommend? We had thought the old reliable VW Golf/Passat second hand could be a good option either. We were thinking of doing PCP, giving the usual 20pc. Do you think this would be a good option?
Aidan: Your mileage probably precludes the PCP option and if your budget comfortably extends to a 172-plate CLA 220 then I wouldn't bother with a used car. Buy new and get the benefit of a full-warranty period and the luxury of picking the colour and specification. You are going to spend a long time in the car so it must be right. The CLA 220 will give you loads of power and will be a competent motorway cruiser. No fears there. Go for an Urban model at a minimum but if you can sneak into an AMG Sport model all the better.
Browse the Audi catalogue again because the A3 saloon is priced quite competitively against the CLA (when comparing full retail costs without discounts). The A3 2.0 TDi SE S'Tronic saloon is the model for you. It might not fit with your impressions of a premium car, but the Mazda6 is a serious piece of kit for the money. The engineering behind its 2.2-litre diesel engine is fascinating and it produces a lot of torque. Great long distance, touring car. Go for the Platinum SL Auto model. It's priced at the same money as the others and it will devour your commute.
Eddie: I like the CLA, I really do, but I think your mileage warrants more of a horse for the course. I'd suggest you look at a new Volkswagen Passat or Mazda6; nice upmarket cars with excellent diesel engines and good automatic transmissions built for the sort of mileage you are talking about. Just have a feeling about this.
My wife commutes on the motorway in a 2015 Corolla diesel, 30,000km/year on 3-year PCP. She would like a 'jeepy' style car (high-driving position) under €30k - petrol or hybrid? Any suggestions?
Aidan: This is trickier than it appears. At 30,000km, your wife's mileage warrants a diesel car. However, if she spends her time sitting in traffic all day and covers that mileage in tailbacks, then I can see why you might consider a hybrid. Petrol is totally out for you. I still think she needs a diesel and I hope you aren't too deterred from diesel because of the chatter about increases in excise duty. If you are then the government has its own duty to be more transparent in matters that might affect consumer confidence in a product used so widely.
I have an inkling considering the car your wife already drives that she quite fancies the Toyota C-HR but it doesn't come in diesel. Maybe I'm wrong but either way I can't recommend anything just yet as she is still in a PCP deal. Perhaps there is a facility to exit the deal early but it needs to be make financial sense for you: you need equity in the car. I encourage you to talk to your dealer because the mileage allowance in PCP deals is usually less than the mileage your wife covers.
Eddie: Forget petrol. Think hybrid or diesel. Seeing as you are in a Toyota try out their C-HR hybrid. Well worth looking at. So is the Peugeot 3008SUV - fine car for around €30k. And I like the Mazda CX-5 diesel, but you'll have to spend a bit more than €30,000.
I am looking to change from a 2001 Audi A4, 2-litre petrol, manual, 100k miles. I've owned it for 14 years. I have a budget of €50,000. I like the new Audi A5 Sportback, possibly the 1.4 TFSI automatic (S-tronic) but am a little concerned if it is suitable for the car size. There is also a 2-litre petrol model? I have only driven the 1.4 S-tronic in the A3 Sportback but appreciate the A5 Sportback is bigger. I do not want a car struggling for power. I do under 7,000 miles a year, split 50/50 between city and motorway. I would not want a car smaller than my current one. I don't believe diesel is a good fit.
Aidan: Go for the 2-litre and don't look back. The price walk from the 1.4 to the 2.0-litre is so negligible it makes the bigger engine impossible to ignore. Also, opt for the S-Tronic gearbox. It is a slick unit and the power from the 2-litre TFSi engine feels even smoother when delivered by the auto box. Ideally, if you are spending that kind of money, you should go for the S Line trim but that might be a little stretch too far. I would try and make it work, though. Go talk to your local Audi dealer if you plan on buying the car on the 172-plate. A car like that might be a special order and it could take a while to get here from the factory. I am not sure what offers Audi will make for July, but expect them to be strong in the finance department. That probably means low APR loans through VW Bank. Give your dealer a shot at quoting for finance and it might help drive an even better bargain.
Eddie: You do so little mileage I was initially tempted to suggest opting for the 1.4-litre but I have found in many a car that the larger engine can be not just nicer to drive but more economical because you don't need to change gears nearly as much. So the 2-litre petrol it is. Nice car.
I'm planning on changing my car this July, with a loan budget of about €11/12,000. I want a high-spec car and have my head set on 2010/11 Audi A4s. Ideally, I'd like one with roughly 100k miles on them. I have looked up north as they are generally cheaper too. What are your views on this? I do about 12,000-15,000 miles a year. My current car is a 98 Toyota Avensis with 200k miles on the clock. It's in good nick but as a 22-year-old male, trying to get insurance is a nightmare despite having five years no-claims, two degrees and a job in a large multinational, I'm portrayed as one of those eejits doing the spinny winnys around town. I'd love to know what you think is a good valuation for say a 2010 Audi A4 with roughly 100k miles on the clock.
Aidan: The upper level of your budget is about on the money for a standard 2010 A4. However, an A4 in top spec, with a good service history, an acceptable odometer, and sold under warranty from a dealer should justifiably fetch more. Please don't dilute the importance of those criteria when you are buying a used car.
The A4 is a great machine but all used cars, irrespective of their quality, are reflections of their previous owners so be vigilant in looking for the best one you can find.
My main concern is that you have your sights set quite high for a car that is in quite limited supply. I know from experience how easy it is to talk yourself into buying something less than perfect because it represents the best of a bad lot. So, here is my last piece of advice and it goes for any brand or model; before you go to see any car in the metal, rate from 1 to 10 some things like bodywork, interior, maintenance record, seller type, mileage etc that your ideal car would have.
If any of the cars you look at falls short of this number, then walk away. That includes if you find yourself looking across the water. Eat the financial loss of travelling to the UK and back if it means you avoid a potentially troublesome machine.
Don't be afraid not to buy something. Sometimes the deal you don't do, is the best deal you do all day. Spend your budget wisely.
Eddie: Better to be sorry for not buying than for buying. Just echoing what Aidan says: don't get too hung up on one model. It can be a recipe for disaster. Do take a look at some mainstream cars such as the Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Superb.
JUST TO SAY
WE love getting your enquiries but can't reply to all queries in as full a manner as this due to time and space restraints. We try to deal with as many as possible via email. But you can help us help you if you make sure to include the following critical elements in your query:
* Total budget.
* Annual mileage.
* Size of car required (number of seats).
* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).