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'.
Our son suffers from an underlying medical condition which makes him an extremely bad traveller. We are mostly affected by having to use the car regularly, as we make regular hospital trips to Dublin.
I am wondering if you know if any one type of car has a reputation of being better than others when it comes to motion sickness. My husband did have a commercial 4x4 which we found caused fewer problems than my Toyota Avensis. It's definitely coming to a stage where I need to change my car. It just isn't suitable. We don't need a large car but we would like to know if there is any one that might be better than others for us.
Aidan: No manufacturer, to my knowledge, promotes itself as combatting motion sickness but you may have stumbled upon the solution with your husband's commercial 4WD. By being higher off the road with softer suspension that is more compliant over bad roads, your son might be less susceptible to feeling the undulations in the road surface and therefore be more content.
If your budget allows it, perhaps look at some crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai ix35 and Kia Sportage. Qashqais are your best bet if your budget is less than €18,000 as the other two weren't released until 2011. You will pick up a clean and properly maintained Qashqai for anything from €9,000 to €16,000 depending on registration plate; the lower limit being a 2007 and the upper being one from 2011.
Ford's Kuga could be ideal also. Ford's suspension is among the best in the business when it comes to mass market cars. One other thing to think of is gear changes. An automatic might help as changes tend to be smoother. Your choice will be limited, though.
If you broaden your search beyond crossovers then MPVs come next. It might seem like overkill in terms of space but MPVs have a slightly higher seating position and, crucially, are very comfortable.
Eddie: One of my daughters was, and remains, susceptible to motion sickness so I know what you are enduring. I completely concur with Aidan's advice. We found she felt far less uncomfortable in larger, taller cars. Indeed we drove a Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 to Cornwall and had no real problems.
Apart from car size and height I learned to mitigate a few other contributing factors. When I drove more slowly, changed gears really smoothly and took bends and corners at much reduced speed the level of motion sickness declined significantly.
Experts told us one of the best ways to reduce car sickness was to get our daughter to look (forward) towards the horizon. Apparently, that helps restore a better sense of balance internally. We used to give her drinks of ice-cold water too and that helped a lot. Hope this is of some use to you.
I have a six-year-old BMW X5 and want to change. What would you advise? I like the car but might like a change too. Any advice?
Aidan: It all depends on how much you want to spend and how much of a change you are talking about. If you are in the new car market and don't need a 3-litre diesel engine or four-wheel-drive then BMW's new X5 comes with a 2-litre diesel version with two-wheel-drive. The X5 sDrive 25d SE costs just under €70,000 before you start adding niceties. On the used car market; another X5 seems like a good choice.
As a change, Land Rover's Discovery Sport could be quite attractive. A new SE automatic model will set you back around €50,000 and it costs €570 to tax a year. It has a 2.2 diesel engine, four-wheel-drive and seven seats.
If you don't mind forfeiting height, then look at the Audi A7. It's a peach. It has Audi's quattro system, a lovely 3-litre V6 and is enjoyable to drive. A properly kitted new one costs close to €80,000 but you can pick up a 2013 model for around €50,000 to €55,000 depending on specification.
Eddie: The X5 is an exceptional car but I sense the itch of change you are feeling. I'm a fan of the Range Rover Sport - great dynamics and lovely cabin. But if you really want change then take a look at the recently-arrived Volvo XC90. If you want dynamics, there are better, but if you want an exceptional cabin - the best around - then that's the car. Costs from early €70,000s. Well worth a look.
Will I be better selling my 2007 Corolla privately and buying a new car? I might buy another Corolla but I might also look at something else. What else might suit me? I do 18,000km a year and have €20k of a budget, two children and we have a smaller car for my partner.
Aidan: Quality used cars are quite scarce. It is worth giving your local dealer a crack at a deal involving your trade-in and especially so if you ultimately decide to stick with Toyota. Main franchise dealers tend to go stronger on values for cars within their own stable.
The Corolla is a lovely motor and I have no qualms about recommending another one for you. There is a facelift Auris coming so keep an eye for it. Alternatively, with cash in hand and a budget of €20,000 you have the whole medium family hatchback market at your fingertips. Keep a close eye out for returning fleet vehicles. They will suit quite a lot of buyers at this point in the year and then again in September/October; if you want to wait that long.
Ex-rentals will have various mileage readings and specification but it is a cost-effective way of buying a current-year registration model for a discounted price.
I won't bother breaking from my predictable tradition of recommending the SEAT Leon. It's far too often overlooked. Lots of 151 models were fitted with the "Technology plus pack" which finishes the car beautifully and comprises front and rear LEDs, LED daytime running lights and 17ins wheels. Eddie, would one of the looming 152 offers suit this reader?
Eddie: Aidan they would, but I am amazed at how quickly people tire of the car they have. Granted the Corolla is not picking up design and performance awards every week but the current version is a hell of a family motor that will go forever.
As you know I also like the Skoda Octavia but I think you will get a better trade-in on your 07 Corolla and quite a surprise at the same time because they've done a really big job on this new one. If you have a good relationship with your Toyota dealer and the car hasn't given you trouble, why change for the sake of change?
Why do some cars only have five forward gears? Isn't it much better to have six? I have a decision to make. To finish with my Peugeot 206 (90,000 miles) and buy a new car or a fairly new one. As I will be driving more on motorways should I insist on six speeds. I'm told it makes a big difference.
Aidan: Every time you change up a gear, you will notice the rev counter drops. That's because you are putting less strain on the engine. Five-speed gearboxes worked perfectly fine in most cars before reducing emissions became a key motivation for manufacturers. A sixth gear helped them do just that. Some now even have as many as eight. And on balance it helps reduce fuel consumption.
However, in real world conditions six speeds for some cars is overkill. It's all about how the gear ratios or the length of each gear operates. Sometimes six speed transmissions result in the lower gears being very short and so the driver winds up changing gears more frequently. Peugeot's new 208 BlueHDi recently set a long distance fuel consumption record with a 5spd manual transmission. It returned 2 litres per 100kms, which is 141 mpg. My head hurts now. I hope yours is okay.
Eddie: Smaller cars tend to have both 5spd and 6spd options nowadays. The latter usually come with larger or more powerful engines. Don't let the motorway driving influence you unduly; if commuting speed on the M50 is anything to go by you won't need sixth gear too often. More important to get yourself a nicely-specced car with good seats and a decent audio system to pass the time you are commuting.