My dream car; Our homecoming business car; my cheap sports 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'.
We have been living in France for a number of years, and have just recently sold our business to move back to Ireland. We will be setting up a business here, and need help deciding which car would suit our needs.
As we have three young children and a large dog we would definitely need a lot of space. We have €80,000 (max) to spend and would be interested in an SUV, or large car (no MPVs please) which we could class as commercial given that we are business owners. Diesel is a must.
Our annual mileage would be approximately 20,000km-30,000kms a year. Here in France we drive a 2011 Toyota Landcruiser LWB with 57,000km and a 2014 Audi A4 Allroad quattro with 16,500kms.
Aidan: Since the launch of the 5-seat commercial Land Rover Discovery 4 in 2012, vehicles of this nature have emerged from other brands. Any vehicle you are considering should be categorised as N1 (that it meets certain dimensions and regulations so that it is deemed a 5-seater that is treated as a commercial) from its birthplace.
The motor tax you pay will ultimately depend on the nature of classification. I think the Discovery is eminently sensible. It has a starting price of €57,460 for an XE model, but expect that to top €60,000 with additional extras and such like.
It is a robust, stylish, comfortable and capable 4WD that seems to suit your needs. It has a 3-litre V6 diesel and an 8spd automatic transmission and lots of torque. The drive is excellent and being a Land Rover, it has the off-road pedigree should you need it. Residual values are excellent as the Disco's desirability outmatches its supply.
The Toyota Land Crusier now comes as a 5-seat 'business' version too and costs from €53,995. The 'Cruiser' suits myriad customers from small farmers to those tending a game reserve in Africa. In other words, it can pretty much do it all. Residual values have not yet been tested but it is likely to follow its SWB commercial brother's lead and remain high.
The Mitsubishi Pajero 5-seat Executive model and Ssangyong Rexton W round out the segment and offer lower price tags of €49,950 and €41,377 (for auto) respectively. The Pajero is slightly old technology but hardy and dependable. The Ssangyong has a smaller engine than the others and is cheaper.
If you decide against a 5-seat commercial; the new BMW X5 comes with a 2-litre, 2WD option and the new Audi Q7, due for release shortly, will be worth a close look. Both comfortably fall within your budget.
Eddie: I think the 'Cruiser' is the best all round. I have great time for the Land Rover but I'd lean towards the Toyota.
I want to ask you about buying my 'dream' car. I've loved the BMW 520d since I was a child and now I can afford to buy one (not new though). I have a budget of €28,000. I have been studying the market and with a 2-year warranty and all other perks I can buy a 2010 F10 automatic from a main BMW dealer.
But I drive little; last year my annual mileage was just below 9,000km. I have two small children and my wife is working (she has a small car) so we hadn't the time for travelling. If I bought the 520d it would be our family car. We might travel this year but will still be under 16,000km.
Aidan: I try not to make a habit of contradicting myself and while I steer as many people into the fuel type that suits them best first, followed by the type of car, in instances where dream cars are involved I relax my standards entirely.
For instance, my dream cars include an air-cooled 1966 Porsche 911 and an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato. One is slow, the other is slower and both are fantastically expensive and utterly incompatible with Irish roads, the weather and my commute. But if I was in a position to buy either or both I would not hesitate for one moment.
Your dream car is attainable. How brilliant. I say go for it. Models sold by main BMW dealers come with a comprehensive two-year manufacturer warranty and there is no shortage of clean 5-series at your budget.
Go all out and opt for M Sport specification. The automatic transmission is a lovely thing and the interior gizmos are intuitive. Considering it will be used as a family car, it will please you to know that boot space is good and rear leg and shoulder room is spot on.
Forget everything else and go buy a 5-series if that is what you really want. Life is too short to drive cars in which you have no interest.
Eddie: The oracle has spoken. Go follow your dreams.
I'd like to buy a cheap sports car. I have €20,000 or so. It doesn't have to be new. But I don't want a gas guzzler. Something with an engine smaller than 2-litre. I presume petrol?
Aidan: With your budget, there is quite a bit of choice. Anybody looking for frugal fun should start with the Peugeot RCZ. It has a 2.0 HDi diesel engine (163bhp) and costs just €280 to tax. Boot space is generous for a coupe, too. There are lovely design elements on the outside such as the double bubble roof and contrasting roof bars.
Realistically, the two rear seats only accommodate passengers in exceptional circumstances but at least you get them. Your budget should easily fetch a 2011 model but 2012s might be within reach with a bit of haggling.
Be sure to drive the Audi TT, too. It has a premium feel and good looks.
Toyota's GT86 is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive hark-back to their glory days as sports car specialists. It has skinny profile tyres so you can get the tail wagging fairly easily (within the confines of the law of course) and the whole driving experience is one that never fails to produce a smile. The GT86 is not frantic but it's plenty fast for most people; 2012 models will be just about attainable.
The Mazda MX5 is great fun too. The chassis is sublime and the 1.8 litre engine is as robust as they come.
While technically not a sports car, I always struggle to look past the VW Golf GTi. Personally, I would have a GTi over most other cars at its price range or even those at twice its price. It's a hoot but practical and sensible at the same time. Lastly, a MINI Cooper S is worth serious consideration.
Eddie: I detect a yearning for something that says as well as drives 'sports car'. If the GTi is not flash enough (it's a wonderful drive) then the Audi TT.
I'm driving an 06 Corolla hatch. I was planning to upgrade to an Auris but my elderly mother says she finds the Corolla hard to get into because it is a bit low. What should I buy? I have a €20,000 budget and drive 6,000km a year, mostly city driving.
Aidan: For a start, don't buy a diesel. Try the Toyota Verso-S with the 1.33 litre petrol engine. It is commonly favoured by existing Toyota drivers with exactly the same concern as your mother. Aura models cost €270 to tax and your budget should go close to buying a new one. Ask your dealer if they have any demonstration or fresh one-year-olds.
The Opel Meriva comes with a 1.4 petrol engine but they are rare on the used market. The rear doors hinge from the back and so open outwards in the opposite way to regular doors.
This provides a greater aperture for those with mobility issues to sit in the back. There is also a grab rail to help. The rear seats slide on rails and seat height in the front and rear is perfect for those who find regular hatchbacks too low.
I really like the Honda Jazz. There is a new one coming soon and it should suit you fine. The Jazz is a strong performer on the used car market so you should do well when it comes time to trade it back in. And Hondas are reliable so barring a fill of petrol and an annual service, you should not have any maintenance to worry about.
Eddie: I'd just add the Ford B-MAX. It has no central pillars at all. Not selling madly, which is a pity, because it is an excellent proposition. It also has a 1-litre EcoBoost petrol, ideal for city driving.