Tuesday 16 January 2018

Higher seating? Car for son? Another diesel? Why we're not against imports


VW Golf SV
VW Golf SV

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'.

Present car 2013 Ford Focus 2-litre auto diesel saloon, 90,000km, second owner, 20,000 annual mileage - 80pc rural roads. Love Focus drive; cheap to run. Need to change because saloon boot now too small for wife's walking aid and grandkids' bikes. Considered estate but also would like more comfortable ride that won't transmit rough country roads into our arthritic bodies, and a higher seating position might ease entry/exit. Could these problems be solved by an SUV with 16ins/higher profile tyres?? Cash budget of €25,000 but what will my trade-in make? What about VW Golf SV/Peugeot 2008 or similar? To confuse us even more, should we go petrol/hybrid? A 5-seater will do. Must be automatic.

Aidan: I appreciate that you want a value on your own car but deals can be structured in different ways, so I want you to focus on how much it costs you to change, rather than the amount of money a dealer offers for your car.

Suffice to say that your car is worth a premium above a regular 1.6 TDCi Focus in lieu of it being a 2-litre and automatic, so you certainly won't need to use all your cash budget to upgrade. As for what to buy, I have checked a few boot capacity figures for you and it seems that the Golf SV is a strong contender. Your Focus has 421 litres of boot space, and options I was considering have negligibly more.

Certainly, the shape of the saloon boot doesn't help so perhaps the boot in the Kia Niro (427 litres) might still provide ample room.

The Niro is a hybrid, so by default you get an automatic, but I think you have hit the nail on the head with the Golf SV. It has a tall seating position, huge boot at 590 litres, and it offers a broad choice of engines, specification and transmissions.

At a minimum, opt for a 1.6-litre diesel Comfortline DSG. Unfortunately, while it costs a little more than a regular hatchback, it is unlikely to hold all its premium when you trade it back in, but the price you surrender will be utterly irrelevant as you will have gotten great value from what it offers as a total package.

However, if you are happy with Ford, then the C-Max 1.6 TDCi Zetec Auto, retailing brand new at €29,350 is just the ticket. Otherwise, you need to buy something from the SUV range above the 2008, such as the Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai et al.

Eddie: Considering the fact you are in a Ford, you're as well going the C-MAX automatic route that Aidan outlined.

All in all, I feel you are more likely to get a more favourable deal from a Ford dealer. The C-MAX is tall enough to suit you, but not too big and bulky like some SUVs/crossovers, and there is good dispensable room in the cabin and boot.

That's the key point with boots and cabins: how much room do they have? The C-MAX does well.

We need a car for our son who can cycle to work in Dublin, but he and his girlfriend would love to be able to get down the country to see us at weekends. We miss him. He is our only child and his salary isn't great when the rent is taken out. We could manage a car costing €6,000 tops. We live around 60km from Dublin. Can you help please?

Aidan: Ensure that you factor insurance into your budget or you might find that this becomes a more expensive venture.

Apologies for bombarding you with options, but you will find the market is somewhat anaemic with choice at this budget. Start with the Honda Jazz. It's a reliable little machine, but you will have to ignore the age of the car as good ones can make a fortune.

You should have more choice of Renault Clios and Opel Corsas. Both of have four cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engines that are quite robust. Forget specification and place less emphasis on age. This is all about mitigating risk, so buy something with verified mileage, a comprehensive service record, and preferably from a dealer who provides warranty. Maintenance parts are cheap for both cars, so it shouldn't cost a fortune.

You don't have long to wait until July, when hopefully supply of this stuff improves, so sit tight for a few weeks unless something ideal presents itself Keep the Peugeot 207 Active, Fiesta Zetec, and Polo Trendline in mind, too.

Eddie: Aidan has given a good list of contenders. Let me add one or two. For that sort of money, you should be able to get a good 11-reg KIA Rio (vastly underrated). I think the Skoda Fabia is wearing well too, and there are plenty of them out there. A Mazda2 would be a good buy, but they are expensive and you'll go back the years. From recent experience, the Rio would be my strongest tip.

I was going to buy a diesel then I read Eddie's piece on the way the market is going and now we (my wife and I, two children, eight and 12) are puzzled. I know Eddie said that diesel is getting an unfair scrutiny and will be around for a long time but we're concerned. We have €30,000 to spend including trade-in. We'd like a SUV. We have a Toyota Avensis (2012) with 145,000km on the clock.

Aidan: If you have clocked up all the 145,000 kilometres on your five-year-old Avensis, then you average 29,000 kilometres per year. That is most certainly diesel territory.

An argument could be made for hybrid, and that brings in the Kia Niro or Toyota C-HR, but I think you would benefit from a slightly bigger SUV. That means diesel.

The problem with the conversation surrounding diesel is that it is too cloak and dagger

If a diesel levy or an increase in excise on diesel is on the cards, then a more transparent approach at governmental level would certainly do better at assuaging fears such as yours.

Alas, that is probably wishful thinking.

Still, you need a diesel SUV, so why not jump straight into a Toyota Rav4? It makes sense for you. A lot of Avensis customers have made this switch as it means they stick with a trusted brand, maintain a good relationship with their dealer and you can expect decent performance and competitive costs to change.

Bargain hard for a Luna model - it is just out of budget, but see what sort of deal you can muster.

If you can't make a Rav4 work, then drop back to a 162-model or broaden your horizons to the Honda CR-V in ES trim with the 1.6-litre diesel engine. It is impressively frugal.

Eddie: I've no qualms saying you've got to go diesel, doing nearly 30,000km a year. And with a budget of €30,000, I'd be pushing you towards a SEAT Ateca (really well priced).

The well-specced SE 1.6-litre diesel should leave a little bit of room under the €30,000 mark if you get any sort of a decent trade-in at all.

You two are against imports. You mightn't say it but I've been reading your answers and it is clear. If the two of you really valued readers, you'd tell them where the best value can be got. I've saved €5,000 on a Vauxhall Insignia by buying in the North. Why don't you highlight the bargains?

Aidan: I take the responsibility of recommending vehicles very seriously and understand that to send someone across the border or into mainland Britain inherently carries a large dose of risk with it. And my modus operandi is to reduce risk, not to amplify it.

Potential savings aside, you miss the point of this page if you think that it is our job to recommend the cheapest car. It isn't. Rather, it is to offer independent advice and provide the tools needed to make an informed purchasing decision.

Whether that ultimately means that the transaction happens in Ireland or the UK is irrelevant.

All we can do is offer the accumulation of our experience and knowledge. Do with it as you please.

Eddie: I've written a lot about the huge increase in imports, the whys and wherefores of people buying cars in the North and across the water.

Certainly, I've urged people to be aware of the pitfalls - the same as I do for people buying at home. We're not against imports. We're all for people getting value for money and buying with their eyes open. That's our job. It's your privilege to think what you want.

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).


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