Saturday 21 April 2018

Crossover hybrid? Car to ferry elderly relative? €10k car for 45k commute?

Charging an electric car
Charging an electric car

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 have just read your article on new cars etc and I am wondering if you have a suggestion of a hybrid, in the genre of the Nissan Qashqai, which has a high-seat driving position?

Aidan: The timing of your question is fortuitous as Kia and Toyota have recently launched brand new hybrid SUVs, called Niro and C-HR (Coupe-High Rider). They are early adopter approaches to the growing demands for SUV-styled vehicles coupled with hybrid powertrains. Let's start with the Kia Niro. Now, I haven't driven it yet (it launches in Ireland in October), so I will leave Eddie to divulge the nitty gritty on its road manners from when he drove it at its international launch.

What I can do is give you an overview of its technology and specification. Let us start with the hybrid part. It has a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 32KW electric motor whose fuel efficient combination results in a CO2 figure of just 88g. Providing the government does not impose any increase in the forthcoming Budget, that means you will pay an annual motor tax of just €180. Combined power is 141bhp, so it will gallop at a fair rate, too.

It has a 6-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) gearbox. No idea how it feels, so Eddie will jump to both of our rescues on that one. Stated fuel consumption is 3.8 litres per 100km. Prices are expected to start at €28,995 (including the government grant of €1,500). Sounds excellent value for money for such a comprehensive package. Toyota's C-HR (it stands for Coupe-Higher Rider) has a bold and striking shape. To my eye, it looks like a mini-Lexus NX300h. Really eye-catching design.

It has Toyota's brilliant 1.8-litre engine and battery combination that serves its other hybrids so well. It sits on Toyota's new chassis architecture, so it really is cutting edge stuff. It launches here in November and before we get the tape measure out to confirm it, the C-HR looks to be bigger than a B-segment SUV like the Nissan Juke, but is a tiny bit smaller than the Qashqai. Give both Niro and C-HR a thorough investigation with your local dealers and be sure to drive both.

Eddie: The Niro is more conventional SUV hybrid; the C-HR is more stunning-looking coupe. The Niro is taller but the C-HR is surprisingly spacious. It wins hands down on looks, but I think the Niro is more what you are looking for in this instance. It will cost from €28,995. It's smaller than the Sportage but larger than the cee'd hatch/estate. It's lower and longer than many a 'SUV' and I found it comfortable rather than dynamic to drive but quiet and easy to get around in.

I'm looking after an elderly relative. I am away on the road a good deal and recently she asked if she could travel the odd day with me as it is a lonely part of the world. I have a Ford Mondeo with 125,000km on the clock and was thinking of changing anyway. She finds it difficult to get in and out of it and if she were to travel more often with me we'd need something that has a taller roof and wider opening doors. What would you suggest? I have a budget of €25,000 excluding my own car which I would trade in.

Aidan: Before I delve into some SUV options I think you should look at a new Skoda Octavia Scout Combi. They are not such a sea-change in terms of what you are used to and what suits you most of the time. I checked the technical data and the overall height is 5cm higher than the new model Mondeo. It is a convincing package for someone doing high mileage all year around because it has a 2.0-litre diesel engine and the 5th generation Haldex clutch 4WD system.

It is mostly a 2WD car until the system detects slippage and keeps you in check. Also, from the same stable is the SEAT Leon Xperience. Similar set-up to the Octavia Scout. If neither is suitable then you might be into the SUV segment.

You could stick with Ford and buy a Kuga. Ford tweaked the price list a while back so the Kuga comes in more affordable than before.

You will likely get an attractive deal by staying with the same brand but the market is highly competitive so price around. The Kuga will give you the space you are used to from the Mondeo and the 2.0-litre engine is probably one of Ford's finest so it makes for a good proposition.

The new VW Tiguan launched recently and VW ran the old model out with loads of great kit. You don't say what age your Mondeo is, but if you can get into a new Tiguan, then it is an accomplished machine.

I seem to be hung up on SEATs this week but it is worth mentioning that their new Ateca has just arrived. I saw it way back in January at the international unveiling and it appeared to me to be every bit as competent an SUV as its rivals. Again, depending on your trade-in, you should get an SE or 'Xcellence' model. The latter comes with a rear view camera, full LEDs, and leather and will cost in the early €30,000s.

Eddie: I just wonder would the Ford B-MAX suit you as it has no central pillar which makes it exceptionally easy to get in and out.

I like it a lot because it is compact and roomy but it hasn't sold well. I'm not sure if it would suit what I sense is your considerable mileage but it would certainly suit your elderly relative. I think Aidan's suggestions are excellent. I'd look closely at the following Crossovers too: the Nissan Qashqai and KIA Sportage as well as the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4.

My first car (05 Ford Fiesta, approx 113,000 mileage) has reached the end if it's shelf life, or more to the point I can't justify pouring more money into repairs to keep it on the road. The latest timing belt snap and resulting valve damage have prompted me to seek your advice on what should replace it. My upper budget is €10,000 meaning I'm limited to the secondhand market. I commute to work and clock about 180km a day. The journey is mainly motorway. Fuel economy and reliability are big concerns for me and comfort is also a consideration. I'm hoping to make this purchase as soon as possible. Also, can you advise what I should do with my first car? I would really appreciate your help with this query.

Aidan: There isn't much to be done with your old car. Sell it, warts and all, and see what you can get. A couple of hundred euro would be a decent return but prepare yourself to scrap it and be shut of a headache.

You clock fairly substantial mileage (45,000km per year excluding leisure driving) and my concern is that your budget won't yield low enough mileage options to mitigate the issues that naturally come with higher mileage diesel cars.

Is there any way that you might be able to stretch another few grand to buy a new Dacia Sandero? I normally don't advocate operating outside a comfortable financial margin, but on this occasion it is important to take a longer-term view of things.

If you buy a used diesel car with just one-year warranty remaining, then you are potentially in trouble after 12 months of racking up 50,000km on something that probably already has a seasoned clock. Dacia's standard warranty lasts for three years or 100,000km. That means you will only get two years but it is a year more than most used car warranties and the car will be brand new so you won't inherit someone else's problems.

Also look at a used Hyundai i30 diesel. The five-year unlimited warranty will have run out on 2011 models but a dealer might throw another year on top as part of a used car warranty deal. Plus, the i30 is a reliable unit so it will run and run.

Eddie: That's big mileage. You need a bigger car but you can't buy new on that budget. So here's an outside-the-box suggestion. You say most of your driving is motorway. Buy a well-minded Toyota Auris with a 1.4-litre diesel.

You might just hit lucky in getting one that's not too far back the years with reasonable mileage. It's a fuel sipper and the car has a really good name. I also think Aidan's suggestion of buying a new Sandero is a real option if you can manage at all.


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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