Thursday 23 January 2020

High Note? Sporty car? Twin needs; Oz return; Hard to see; 2,500km crux



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'

We are in the market for a new car. Budget is €10,000 plus trade-in, for which we would hope to get €2,500. We have a 2008 Citroen C4 diesel. We have two children under five. We considered a seven-seater for visiting grandparents but feel we may not have the budget. We do 8,000km/year. We are not car people so have no clue what to go for. We considered a Nissan Note but are not sure if it would be a good buy. Can you advise on a good family car? Don't need bells and whistles.

Aidan/Eddie: You have precisely the right car in your crosshairs. A 2015-plate, 1.2-litre petrol Nissan Note in SV trim is ideal on a variety of fronts, not least because they are readily available from reputable dealers offering warranty. In time, you might require something more spacious, in which case a Qashqai would be a logical successor. If, having tested it, you immediately decide the Note is too small, try and find a petrol Toyota Corolla.

I'm in my mid-40s. It's time to get back into something sporty and a last chance to get a big petrol engine before everything goes electric. Dream car is a Porsche 911 (997 Gen 2 for greater reliability) but also considering a BMW M240i or a 440i coupe. Budget €35 to 50k for the right car. Appreciate your thoughts and anything from leftfield?

Aidan: Your justification for buying a big petrol car made me laugh, but I empathise with it. Both the BMW M240i and 440i are out off your price range new but a used 435i M Sport might satiate your power-thirst. However, you are in the ballpark for a new BMW M140i. Totally bonkers just for the sheer heck of it. Plenty of exhaust snorts and unburnt fuel blowbacks but practicality for when you realise you've still got to live a normal life. Or you could subscribe to the 'go big or go home' ethos and buy the Porsche you've always wanted.

Eddie: Leftfield. How about well-minded used versions of a BMW M3, Audi RS4 or a Mercedes C-Class AMG? Both out of your budget orbit as new but if you can find an older one that's been well looked after why not? Further leftfield are the Honda Civic Type R (new), Golf GTi Performance (new, 245bhp) or Golf R (new). I do like the BMW 4 Series M Sport (used), though.

We're expecting twins. Having got over the shock, we need a change of car. We have a VW 132 Golf Highline, 50,000km, in good condition. Annual mileage around 10k. It is paid off (was offered €13k against a new Tiguan, €35k, at my last service in November). I drive to work so will need second car at some stage.

Option 1: Keep the Golf and get an estate or SUV as second car. Budget €15 to 20k, less if possible. We like Octavia, Passat or other you could recommend.

Option 2: trade in Golf for a higher spec new or nearly new car. Budget up to €35k. Considering Skoda Superb, Golf or Passat estate. We like Seat the Ateca and VW Tiguan, but this leads to secondary question - what is the better option for twin baby paraphernalia? SUV or estate. I'm inclined towards a good-quality estate with park assist etc as the wife is a bit scared of a big car.

Aidan/Eddie: By trading your Golf in, our concern is you will replace it with something similar. Simplify things. Keep the Golf. You know its history and how it has been driven. We have no hesitation in recommending the Superb. It's the most functional estate/combi your money will buy. Initially, you might spend more than you have outlined but the net cost by the time you buy a second car will close that gap significantly. This is an open and shut case. Golf and Superb.

I have returned from Australia with my wife and two young children. I wish to purchase a car. There is no trade-in. A car similar in size to Golf or Corolla would suit. My budget is €10k. What is the best I could get?

Aidan: If your mileage is low, take heed from our advice to the reader in the first question. Forget specification at this budget and focus on mileage and condition instead. Ultimately, a sparkling Terra model Corolla is better than a Luna version with battle scars. If you need a diesel car, you have more options but not necessarily more choices. That sounds contradictory but you need to be selective with a used-car purchase. There are varying grades of quality out there so don't trust anything with a vague past or from a sketchy seller. Stick the Ford Focus on your list, too. There are loads of them, so you can afford to be choosy.

Eddie: Corolla is the best bet for your budget. Big on reliability, which is what you most certainly need. Plenty of them, petrol and diesel, around so concentrate on condition and mileage.

I've a 2010 Volvo S40. I bought it for the comfort and economy. It's done me well and mileage is low. I like the leather seats but visibility has been rubbish. As a result I've dinged three of the four corners. I now want to add €10k to get a car at €17k; 2015 hopefully. Similar spec required but don't want to just go for the obvious upgrade to V40. Any suggestions?

Aidan: You might need to reassess your budget. A 2010 Volvo S40 with bruises might struggle to return €7,000. Still, let's go with it.

A Lexus CT200h is a sound option. It is physically similar to the S40, but a high-grade model should have a reversing camera and/or sensors. Leather is not standard but not uncommon either. The automatic transmission is a help.

A SEAT Leon 1.2 (or a 1.4 FR with half leather) would maximize your budget if you buy something from 2016. You might have to sacrifice some goodies but the package is compelling. A petrol Leon is lot of car for your money.

Eddie: Would you consider a well-specced VW Golf? It's a bit dated compared with the latest one, but if you get a Highline version you'd be laughing. I'd also look for a used, but fresh, Audi A3 hatchback or Mercedes A-Class.

I own a 1.8 Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi (130,000km). I use it very little because I can cycle to work. I drive 2,500km or fewer a year. The car is in good nick and I have kept it serviced. I feel as if I am losing money leaving it parked in the drive as I am paying insurance (€95/pm), NCT, tax (€280) and car loan (€364/pm. This is high due to problems with previous car; long story). There is €6,000 approx owed on it to the credit union. Should I sell up and clear the loan as much as possible or keep it and trade in down the line when changing? I'm worried my insurance will increase if I break my cover (26 -year-old male). We would be going for a petrol car.

Aidan: Is your car loan a personal one? It would be better if it was. If not, you will have trouble selling a car with outstanding finance (morally, you shouldn't anyway).

Technically, if the credit union owns your car you can agree with the seller to clear the finance on your behalf. However, you are likely in negative equity because, while you don't provide the age of your car, considering it's a 1.8-litre diesel Focus, I can infer it's older than 2011 and therefore potentially not worth as much as your outstanding finance.

Reducing financial risk is something for which big businesses get paid huge sums of money, so it probably makes sense to do it at a personal level.

If it was me, I would get rid of the loan and save for a while to build myself back up again. If you can afford the repayments and insurance then it won't take too long starting from scratch.

As far as I am aware, you can take two years' hiatus without affecting your no claims bonus, too. You're still young. You took a risk on a car and now you're paying for it. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

Eddie: Brilliant advice from Aidan, especially on the finance. Here's another option. Talk to your credit union. Tell them you want to buy a used electric car (Renault Zoe or Nissan LEAF) and wish to dispose of your Focus. You can meet repayments so why not keep a car (electric) for minor mileage, your insurance continuity and better accommodation of your transport needs? Work out a plan with the credit union. Go to a garage/dealer that has used electric cars or can get them for you and do a deal. It's a realistic option.

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