Thursday 14 December 2017

Change one or two of our cars? In Accord on PCP; electric or hybrid?

A reader is trying to choose between an electric and a hybrid
A reader is trying to choose between an electric and a hybrid

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'.

I would like some advice about changing one of our cars. We have a 2005 VW 1.4 Golf with 80,000 miles and a 2005 Audi A4 TDi with 140,000 miles. We are a family of four (2 adults, 2 children). The Golf is used for school runs and small trips and the Audi for long journeys. We are hoping to change one of the cars this year and have a budget of approx €15,000 to €20,000 including trade-in.  Both cars are in good running order considering their age. For long journeys the A4 is feeling a little cramped as the children are 8 and 10 and are tall for their age. Which car should we change?

Aidan: If your Golf continues to serve you well, and you have already replaced some non-routine service items such as the clutch, timing belt, and perhaps some suspension parts; then hold onto it. Otherwise, you might decide to split your budget and upgrade both cars. Either way, your Audi doesn't seem to fit your needs any more so that one needs an upgrade. Let's consider a few options. If you can stretch to the upper limit of your budget, then split it in favour of the big family car.

Use around €14,000 plus whatever you can get for your Audi. I think you should try and sell it privately and approach a dealer as a cash buyer. Work on the basis that the A4 will return around €2,000 for you.

Now, with €16,000, go and take a look at a used Ford Kuga. At this money, you should find a low mileage, clean, Zetec or Titanium trim, last-of-the-old-model 2012 plates.

The Kuga is a fine, big car with loads of space and a strong 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is great when undertaking long journeys. Anyone having space problems should consider a Skoda Superb. It has a massive boot, limousine-esque rear legroom, and availability is more plentiful now that the new one has been out a while and some repeat custom has taken place. Don't worry about getting an Elegance model, the 1.6 TDi Ambition will be fine for you.

That leaves replacing the Golf with whatever you can sell it for plus the remaining €6,000 from your €20,000 budget. Try out a used Mazda3, Honda Civic, or Toyota Auris (all petrol models) for size. Filter your search online to exclude cars with similar mileage to yours.

There is no point in spending money to move laterally, so weed out the high mileage options. If the Golf is wafting along without a care, then blow the whole budget on replacing the A4 and buy something like a VW Tiguan, Toyota Rav4, Hyundai ix35, and Kia Sportage.

The ix35 was hugely popular but don't rule out the others; particularly the new model Rav4 or the Kia Sportage. Again, I highly recommend a Skoda Superb at this budget, too.

Eddie: I would definitely spend money to update both your cars. Quite simply I'd trade the Golf in against a newer Golf. And I would buy the freshest Skoda Superb I could come across.

I suggest changing both cars because you are keeping your Cost of Change evenly spread. It also helps if you're trading in like for like with the Golf.

The Audi isn't worth much. I'd sell it privately. You'll never want for space again when you get the Superb.

I am currently looking to change my car. I am driving a 2009 2.2-litre Honda Accord. My annual mileage is around 12,000 miles. My budget is around €26,000 (which includes my trade-in for the Accord). I have thought about buying another Accord but I would really like a different car altogether. I have been looking at Audi and BMW. I have also thought of going down the PCP route. What are your thoughts on this scheme?

Aidan: We have covered the PCP route in exhaustive detail before, but as a brief recap; just be sure to do your homework on the total cost of financing the car and the options available to you at the end of the loan agreement. PCP suits buyers who regularly change their cars, or who need some help getting out of old cars and into something that has somewhat fixed costs of motoring and all of the latest safety and entertainment tech. It is always worth repeating that the meaning of PCP is 'Personal Contract Purchase' or 'Personal Contract Plan'; either way the 'Personal' part is the most important element. Nobody can make the decision for you.

It is a shame that Honda has decided to discontinue the Accord because it really was an under-appreciated gem.

If you move into something like an A4 or 3-series, you will have loads of choice. You should find 2014 models with generous spec levels come in on budget.

The A4 was most popular with 120bhp in SE trim, but there were a few higher output models in S Line also. A 3-series in M Sport trim is a great driver's car. However, have you expanded your scope to include the new Mazda6? I have not met a single person who doesn't admire it.

Nor do I know any owners who have regretted purchasing one. It's a good bit bigger than most compact executives and despite its 150bhp figure seeming a little wimpy considering it is being produced by a 2.2-litre diesel engine; torque is outstanding. Try to find a Platinum model Mazda6. I bet you will be pleased.

Eddie: You don't say that space is a vital prerequisite so I'll make a left-field suggestion on the basis that it would be a brand new buy as opposed to the excellent used-car suggestions Aidan has made.

Why don't you consider a new Honda Civic? It's an especially good car, significantly roomier than before and has a serious menu of safety equipment as standard.

You won't have to stretch far above €26,000 to get a superb piece of machinery. Not alone that but your low mileage is perfect for the 1-litre, yes 1-litre, petrol engine that pumps 127bhp - it's a sweet thing. And you will probably get more for your Accord from a Honda dealer. The Civic has grown up. If you want a new car with a nice touch of style take a close look.

What is the retail price of a new Nissan Leaf before the €10,000 grant comes off and is there a new Leaf coming this year? Which is better: a Nissan Leaf or a Hyundai Ioniq. I was also looking at a Peugeot 2008 and a Mazda CX3 - I want these to be full automatic. Which of these would be better?

Aidan: The retail price of electric cars almost always includes the grants so the price without them is irrelevant. The paperwork is completed by the dealer. A new Nissan Leaf will launch in 2018 but I have no other details on the exact arrival date, the range from its batteries, or price. Expect its range to increase, though. That much we can safely assume will be the case. I haven't driven the Ioniq.

The 2008 and CX-3 are excellent choices ordinarily, but to get an automatic CX-3, you need to go for the range-topping 1.5-diesel in GT SL trim and four-wheel-drive. Peugeot has hit a sweet spot with the 2008.

I regularly recommend it because it has a great choice of petrol and diesel engines, automatic and manual transmissions, clearly defined specification levels, and it is priced very competitively.

The Toyota CH-R and Kia Niro are a bit more expensive but they are hybrids, which satisfies your automatic transmission requirement.

If you can make an electric car work for you then give it a shot.

This isn't advice, but I hope the government does more to incentivise EVs. The whole electric car venture is undermined if we use fossil fuels to get our electricity.

We really need to take a 'Leaf' (pardon the pun) out of Portugal and Norway's methods of using renewable energy to generate electricity. And even then, it would be nice if Dublin City Council would create more parking spaces and refrain from clamping EV drivers who mistakenly park in them assuming that they don't need to pay for parking as well. It is not the case in Limerick city.

Eddie: I think you are between two minds on what you want here.

The idea of an electric car is appealing but is it really suitable for you? I honestly don't think it is. Aidan's advice to go for a hybrid is sound - but it will cost you more new, a good deal more.

If it was my money I'd buy a one, or two-year-old Toyota Auris hybrid. It's a sound, if unspectacular, bet.

And it's a step on the way to maybe buying electric next time around.


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).

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