Wednesday 25 April 2018

Left-hand car sale? Stick with Rio? Superb v Passat? Higher-seat car?

Do your homework to ensure a happy car purchase
Do your homework to ensure a happy car purchase

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help you make the right choice with your next car.

Three years ago our family relocated from abroad. We had two cars, one a company car, the other a 2012 Opel Meriva 1.7 TDi for ferrying two children around. We left quite suddenly due to the job. The company car was handed back; the Meriva was our own so we drove it back to Ireland. It is left hand drive. We now have a left-hand drive car that we want to get rid of and get a right-hand-drive family car. So the question here is not really what car to change to but what are my best options on getting as much as I can for a left-hand drive car in good condition with about 80,000km on the clock?

Aidan: Your predicament is two-fold. First, your Meriva won't make as much as right-hand-drive models, but it is difficult to quantify by what amount. Put a good bit of breathing space between a similar Irish model for sale privately online and see how much traction you get. However, price is only one determining factor in this equation.

You need to be prepared for a lengthy lead time. If the car does not sell relatively quickly, don't panic. I think that your situation is as much a case of having to wait for the right customer as it is having the car priced correctly; although both are linked and require patience and vigilant monitoring of the market.

Track similar models online. Perhaps there is someone in the opposite position to you and they require a left-hand drive car on returning to continental Europe. You won't know until you advertise the car privately and take your chances. Otherwise, try a good contact back in the country in which you lived. See if they would sell the car on your behalf. It means driving back to that country again, but it should not be as difficult a sell once the car is there.

Start with putting it on sale here and be patient. You only need one customer, but when they call to see the car; don't let them leave without driving away in it.

Eddie: I'd be for letting a good, local dealer take some of the pain out of this for you. A good one is bound to have better contacts than you for getting someone - probably another dealership - from abroad to buy it. If there is profit to be made, it will be done. Certainly also try all Aidan says; his advice is excellent. But I think you should put your cards on the table with a trusty dealer too and say: "Shift this for a reasonable price and I'll be buying a car from you."

Whatever you do act quickly and decisively. I don't like the idea of you driving from the 'wrong' side of the car.

I am in my sixties and thinking of changing my Kia Rio 2010 diesel, 82,000km, for a small fuel-efficient petrol 4dr 4-seater.

I like the Rio and do on average 10,000km -12,000km a year. I would have approx €10,000 plus trade-in to spend. I would be grateful for your advice.

Aidan: What about a new, petrol model Rio? It is vastly different to the version you currently drive, and I happen to know that you have a well-sought after machine; particularly with Kia dealers. It is an easy sell because it's a cheap, not-too-small, fuel efficient diesel car; and yours has low mileage. Go and test the newer Rio with the 1.25 petrol engine. It retails at €17,600 (excluding metallic paint and delivery costs) and is just €190/€200 to tax (model dependent). I reckon a brand new one is out of reach but a good 2016 plate should be attainable. However, for variety, look at a 2016 Renault Clio in Dynamique Nav trim. It's stylish, spacious, and a great supermini package. So, too, is the Skoda Fabia. Having driven a more powerful car, you could find that the 1.0 litre 60bhp version lacking in pace.

Most don't, but there is a 1.2 TSi engine that would suit you if you like something with a bit of zip. Nissan's new Micra is coming soon. It's a radical departure, a tad out of budget but worth looking at if there is any flexibility in your spending power.

Eddie: We get lots of queries along similar lines to yours. I call it 'the other man's grass is always greener' syndrome. Listen, stick with the Rio. Make it a petrol. I wish you could hold a while until the brand new one gets sale here but it may be beyond your budget. Why don't you ask your dealer? You'd never know what you could work out. Or see would they keep a demo model for you - that might knock a bit off the price. If all that fails; buy a young Rio petrol.

I am currently driving a 141 Skoda Octavia Elegance 1.6 TDi. Annual mileage: 20,000km. It will be three years old at the end of March. I am thinking of upgrading and hoping Brexit won't affect the trade-in value too much. I am thinking Passat or Superb as staying within the Volkswagen group should offer me the best trade-in. I have read some reviews and the general trend seems to be the ride, refinement and overall finish of the Passat is better, but I am drawn to the space in the Superb. Highline and Style models seem to be around the same price. Just wondering what your thoughts are on both and is the VW likely to hold value better in this range.

Aidan: You are asking a lot of pertinent questions. Firstly, your Octavia is still a sought-after machine so even if the market takes a hit from Brexit, you are still ideally placed to get a relatively good return. The Passat is an accomplished package. Every time I have driven it, I have been impressed with its sound insulation. That is something I value just as highly as a quality interior, which the Passat has.

I have a soft spot for the Superb. It doesn't miss a beat. If you are able to, go for an automatic. As for which holds value better, actually, the Superb has been one of the best performers in its segment. It has been in much higher demand than the volume of its supply, and residuals have been outperforming many others as a result.

However, values of all saloons are now under a bit of pressure as SUVs become more readily available. I think you will fare pretty similarly with either car.

Eddie: Off the top of my head I'd go Superb. It's better value, has more room and, I think, looks a lot better. Maybe the Passat nudges it on refinement. But nothing comes near it on space and you seem to value that. Superb choice I think.

I drive a Mazda3 2007, 1.6 petrol (130,000km on the clock) and my wife has a Toyota Yaris 2006, 1.3 petrol (90,000km). She drives about 5,000km a year and me about 8,000km - mostly in Dublin. We have two young children of school age. We would like to upgrade one of the cars (Mazda), although it does not cause too much trouble. Ideally it would be a higher-seating-position car. One car in the family can be bigger for moving stuff around, while the second can be smaller (Toyota). We do not need a 7-seater. The budget would be in the range of €10,000-€12,000. We tend to buy used cars and drive them for 3-4 years before upgrading. Please advise what we should look at?

Aidan: Upgrading every three or four years is good practice and cost effective. You don't need a diesel car but choice will be a little more limited for medium size petrol cars so stick to the large, family hatchback/crossover segment. Next time around, you should have more choice as petrol is back in fashion. Start with the 1.6 litre petrol Nissan Qashqai. They are plentiful and will provide a tall seating position and good space for your family.

While it doesn't have a tall seating position, the Toyota Auris is always a sound purchase. The last of the old Sport models from 2012 had great equipment levels but it is better to stretch into the newer shape if at all possible. The upper end of your budget will just get you into a new model 131 plate with the excellent 1.33 litre petrol engine in Luna trim. The 1.0 litre EcoBoost Ford Focus in Zetec specification would also be lovely.

Eddie: As usual Mr Timmons has compelling facts and figures at his fingertips. I'm going to suggest a totally different take. I think, given that you buy secondhand, that you could pick up a doozie of a deal with a Ford B-MAX. It is a compact people carrier and has a 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. Frankly it hasn't worked well for them at all. Don't know why. It has brilliant room, no central pillars and is ideal for a family of four. You should get a good deal secondhand because they are not flavour of the month. If not feeling that bullish, try the Peugeot 2008. Nice car.


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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