Sunday 18 March 2018

Only one winner; Compact SUV? Larger diesel; battery or hybrid?


Peugeot 3008
Peugeot 3008

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've lived in the country all my 60 years and driven all sorts of cars, petrol and diesel. I see nothing wrong with diesel but because some city slickers don't want it in urban areas, they want to have it banned down the country too. I'm changing my Ford Mondeo diesel (12-reg) and I'm changing to another diesel. I do 20k a year with herself and myself mostly; sometimes one or two of the 'children' (youngest 18) travels with us. My wife wants an SUV. I want a hatchback. We don't need as big a car as the Mondeo. Could you give me your best three hatchbacks for me and three SUVs for my wife?

Aidan: The fuel-type debate transcends a city versus rural difference of opinion but I take your point and sympathise with your position.

An overnight change in the popularity of diesel is neither warranted nor recommended so your steadfast decision in buying another diesel car makes sense to me. The Volkswagen Golf has just received a mid-cycle facelift. On the outside, the changes are subtle but the design is timeless and holds its own against all other rivals. If you are spending under €30,000, consider either the 1.6 TDi Comfortline DSG or a manual Highline.

You don't specify a requirement for an automatic but the DSG gearbox should be slick enough to tempt you. Of course, it would be prudent to assume your Mondeo will fare better with a Ford dealer so your cost to change into a Focus is helped in that regard. A Focus 1.5 TDCi Titanium should be on your list.

Lastly, I think the Mazda3 merits close inspection. It has a lovely diesel 1.5-litre engine and an even creamier 2.2-litre version. Go for the Platinum BL if you can.

As for SUVs, if you don't need something Mondeo-sized, then look at the Peugeot 2008; good space, great drive, excellent trim levels and sensible pricing structure. Enough said.

The Honda HR-V is a looker and the 1.6-litre engine is miserly with diesel. An ES model is the one to go for.

I'll play devil's advocate with the size in case you find the smaller SUVs a bit cramped and suggest the Nissan Qashqai. It's been around a while but it's a damn fine machine.

Eddie: My friend, I think there is only going to be one winner here, and it's not going to be you. So I'd bet heavily your purchase is going to be an SUV.

Aidan has picked out three nice compact SUVs/crossovers for you. I can't find fault with them, though I think she (sorry you) will end up buying something larger, which is why Aidan suggests a Qashqai.

I'd also look at the Hyundai Tucson, Renault Kadjar and Peugeot 3008 SW. If pushed, I'd go for the Peugeot, purely for its digital dash.

I'm hoping you can help me. My wife is currently driving a 2007 Ford Focus 1.4 petrol. She wants to change to something higher up from the ground, like an SUV (crossover) but doesn't want a large car. My first thought was a Nissan Qashqai or Hyundai Santa Fe but she feels these are too big. Something in the range of the Nissan Juke or Toyota CRH looks perfect but the big question is, do they have enough back-seat space for two car seats? We have two children (three and five-year-olds). No plans for more children so two seats are enough. Her driving is mainly over short distances in rural Ireland with an annual mileage in the region of 15,000km.I also have my eye on the Audi Q2, which looks lovely but above €30k is probably a little out of our price range; €25k is roughly where I would want to be.

Aidan: There should be no issues whatsoever fitting two children's seats in the back of a Toyota C-HR and, frankly, I don't see a need to broaden your horizons any further. The CH-R has what your wife wants and needs and it fits her budget. It is tall, spacious (surprisingly so), and comes with a capable little 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine.

Visibility in the rear is somewhat impeded by the exterior styling of the rear doors, which have distinctively high shoulder lines, but your wife's journeys are short so it's potentially immaterial.

We are now at a point in the year when dealers sell their ex-demonstration models so you should find a 1.2-litre petrol Luna Sport model on a 171-plate with less than 10,000km is on budget.

Sell your Focus privately and go to the dealer with cash.

Eddie: I think the Toyota C-HR is the surprise of the year in this crossover sector. It is certainly different to look at and was one of the smoothest drivers I've had all during 2017. One piece of advice: bring the children and the child seats with you and make absolutely sure everything works 100pc. We've had some sorry tales here about seats not suiting.

I need advice. I'm looking to change a 09 VW Jetta (280,000km) to go up in the years and get a larger car with a budget of max €16,000. I'm looking at my options and am considering a Skoda Superb Combi probably from the UK. My two questions are:

1. Should I consider a petrol in light of changes coming down the line to deter people from diesel?

2. Have you suggestions for another large family car suitable for creche, school run and commute?

PS: I looked at hybrid but they seem expensive. I know it's more economical to go with a diesel, but I'm becoming more aware of moves against it and I am worried that there will be a large amount of diesels on the market here in a few years and there will be no residual value in them when we come to trade on again.

Aidan: We have a national car parc comprising around two million so I can't see the recycling of a fleet that size in favour of electric vehicles happening in the immediate to short-term, not least because our public transport and electric vehicle infrastructure are woefully lacking.

Thus, I think it potentially damaging to the reputation of modern diesels to prematurely write them off as messy, outdated and dangerous.

The diesel engine will and probably should be phased out but knee-jerk reactions help nobody. The motor industry is ripe for disruption and the leading revolutionaries are electric and autonomous vehicles, but it is 2017 and not 2040 and you need to change car today.

Going by the mileage on your Jetta, you seem to rack up a huge clock so go for another diesel and hope that common sense prevails at policy-making level.

The Skoda Superb Combi is the right choice. If you insist on bringing it from the UK, be sure to run every check you possibly can to verify its provenance.

Just so you know, for such a popular car, the volume of imported Superbs is measly, which infers there are little enough savings on them. Shop around here first.

Eddie: It has to be diesel for you whether you buy here or in the UK. I take your point about re-sale values but don't forget the following: even if there is a drop in prices for diesels when you come to trade in your next car, you should still not lose if you buy another. In other words, the cost-to-change gap will/should be of similar dimensions for diesels. The Superb sounds good for you. I'd also take a look at the Volkswagen Passat.

Quick question: electric or hybrid for me? I'm living in Dublin, have a short commute, a girlfriend across town and the odd weekend we travel down the south east to family. I have a Ford Fiesta (09) and have a budget of €20,000 along with whatever I get for the trade-in. What would you advise?

Aidan: I think you should look at a Lexus CT200h. It's a hybrid and a nice entry into the electrified way of things. Go for an Executive model and see how much you can survive on battery power alone. Armed with enough experience and knowledge, next time around you might opt for an EV. There might be more choice of models with longer ranges by then too.

Eddie: It has to be hybrid for you this time. The Lexus is a clear option but definitely look at the Toyota Yaris and Auris hybrids too.


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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