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New or nearly-new? Buying a classic car? More power and better MPG?


Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car

Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car

Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next 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 would like your advice on buying a new car or a nearly-new car. I have a Toyota Auris Terra 07  petrol. It has 85,000 miles on the clock. My budget would be no more than €15,000 with my own car as a trade-in. I am interested in the same type of car again: petrol, 1.4 5dr. I would like the car to be economical, reliable. What is the best value at the moment out there and should I wait until 2016 if I buy new? Give me the best options.

Aidan: In the absence of a particularly generous deal, a new car is out of the question with your budget.

Waiting until next year to buy a new car is a non-runner and you might miss out on some lovely examples from the impending return of the ex-rental/hire drive vehicles. These are nearly new cars that are leased out to tourists and suchlike, for durations ranging from three months to more than a year. They come back in every September/October and are good value for money so long as you don't mind having a near-new car with one-year old type mileage.

However, even hire-drives will probably be a stretch but play your cards right and find something like another petrol Auris or a SEAT Leon. The SEAT Leon is a good shout because it starts life a bit cheaper than its rivals but does not yield much, if anything, in terms of quality or refinement. The 1.2 TSi engine is zippy and frugal. The interior of the Leon is a little dark but it will still feel like leaps forward from any 2007 car. Drop back to a 2014 registration Leon and give yourself the option of buying something with a bit more specification.

Opel tends to put a few cars through the rental companies and a petrol model is worth a look. Similar to the Leon, drop back to 2014 and buy an SC or even SE model and avail of some more goodies if you so wish. What about another Auris? It represents good value for money, especially considering how well it holds its value.

As an outside choice, maybe look for a Ford Focus with the 1.0 Ecoboost engine. They are rare but the engine is a cracker and the Focus ticks all of your boxes in terms of efficiency and practicality.

Eddie: My advice would be not to concern yourself too much with the year of the car but with the quality of what you are getting. Do as Aidan suggests, drop back a year or so, and you will pick up better equipped versions that in many cases still have two, three or more years left on their warranty. I'm thinking in particular about the likes of the Hyundai i30 or Kia cee'd, not to mention a plethora of other choices (in addition to those already mentioned by Aidan) such as the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Mazda3 etc.

I mention these because they give you better scope to shop around and sample not just price but value as some cars will offer more for your money.

I'd love to buy an old car. I mean a vintage or classic. I have €15,000 and the time (I'm retired and my family are mostly abroad). What would your advice be? I currently drive an 07 Toyota Corolla and would hold onto that for the more mundane driving. But am I letting myself in for a lot of trouble with an old car?

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Aidan: How much mileage do you cover annually? Is the Corolla in tip-top shape? Make certain that you can continue to finance the running costs of two cars, however small it might look on paper, otherwise you run the risk of learning the hard way that classics can look like an enormous financial void in the shape of a car.

As options on what to buy, what about an old Merc 280 SL? Or BMW 6 Series CSi? Something comfortable but with a bit of class, you know?

It would make financial sense not to blow the whole budget on the car. Keep a couple of thousand aside for immediate and inevitable remedial works. As a good pal of mine says "build a buffer".

Does an old MINI or VW Beetle interest you? Maybe even a VW Karmann Ghia if you can get one at the right money. The UK is a good place for that stuff.

The MINI will be the easiest to work on and there are loads of sites that provide a myriad of parts and upgrades. It is also a hoot to drive and does not take up much space. They rust to bits so a complete strip down and rebuild could be in order but you did say you have time.

If you are in no way handy with a socket set then the first thing to do is enrol in a mechanics class and learn a new skill.

Then you will know what's involved for even the most basic car maintenance and it puts you in a better position to determine what kind of classic/vintage car you want or can comfortably work on.

You've got to really want an old classic and devote a lot of time to it to get a return on your outlay; otherwise it becomes a pretty expensive indulgence.

Eddie: My advice is to start with something small, straightforward and cheap. Unless you have the tools and garage space to upgrade, repair and maintain a car you run the risk of losing a lot of money. Those in the business tell how tricky it can be. So buy an old MINI or VW Beetle or a Morris Minor, something that is straightforward yet has a bit of character and spend less of your money.

I'd be less inclined to buy a Beemer or Merc. If anything goes wrong you could find yourself forking out a lot of money for parts and labour. Start simple and see how you go. Have a wonderful time.

I have a 2008 Renault Laguna 1.5 DCi diesel with 150,000km. My annual travel is 30,000km. The car computer says I get about 51/52mpg (5.5l/100km). I am thinking of upgrading to a 2012 car. I have four school-going children so I need good space (my wife has a 7-seater). My budget is €10,000/€11,000 with the Laguna. I am hoping to go to a 2012 Ford Mondeo - 1.6 or 2-litre diesel Zetec model, with low mileage.

It looks like Ford upgraded their engines in 2012 and they suggest that both engines will do 66mpg average(which will likely convert to slightly better than the Laguna to about 55mpg/56mpg when you convert their figures to reality. What do you think, would the 2-litre be better with more power but also with good mpg; or do you have any other suggestions?

Aidan: I love when a reader has done their homework but your dates are just a little out. Ford scrapped the 1.8 diesel in favour of the 1.6 litre engine in February 2011. The 2.0 litre has been there since forever and I always advocate going for it if a good one is available. It's a sweet engine with loads of torque and does not require sacrificing much, if anything, in terms of fuel efficiency.

Most 2.0 litres came with great specification, too. Zetec models were standard fare and there should be a few Titanium models about the place also. I could recommend other models but honestly, the Mondeo is as good as they come. Go for it.

Expect to pay in the mid to late teens for a good 2012 2.0 litre Mondeo with low mileage. There is nothing wrong with the 1.6 so if your search for a nice 2.0 litre is fruitless, don't have any hesitations about buying the smaller engine.

Try to find one for sale in a Renault dealership as they might be more inclined to favour your own car as a trade in. Bear in mind the overall cost to change, and not the amount that you are offered for your own car.

Eddie: I'd look further afield. The Mondeo is, as Aidan rightly says, a fine car but I have to say I think it looks quite dated now and even more so since the new one arrived.

You are not going to get a fortune for your Laguna and need to put effort into getting the best deal you can.

You set a lot of store on fuel economy and space. I'd go looking for a Hyundai i40 or Skoda Superb as well.

You know, you might get a deal on a KIA Optima too. Don't look so much at power either, look at torque - a car's pulling power because that's where you save fuel by not having to change down gears.