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'Ridiculous' cost; 3,000km/year; Merc or Lexus? Room for dog? 3 children?



Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

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 firms and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.

I drive a well-kept and low-mileage 141 D BMW 5 series M Sport with 47,000km; full service pack/automatic. I was thinking of changing into the new Mercedes E-Class 220 or new BMW 5 Series but the cost to change is ridiculous. The main dealers are looking for €22k just to get into a 161/162. They said I'd be better off selling privately. I am willing to accept depreciation of €6/6,500/year, especially on such a young, fresh car. Selling privately is not practical. I believe it's too difficult and time-consuming. I am now considering non-car dealers (SIMI approved). New car, of course, would have full service history and manufacture warranty.

Aidan: Your car sounds lovely and 2014-plate models are in relatively good demand but unfortunately, they are now also in steadier supply than before, so you might have to relax your expectations on the cost to change. Also, premium brands' residual values are under a bit more pressure than other segments for a variety of reasons. I am a little confused by your next tactic. You have been given a price to change for another used car (2016-plate) from main dealers, which you don't like, but you now want to buy a new car from a non-main-franchise dealer and hope to do this for less money? I don't think that will work unless you drop out of the premium segment and look elsewhere. Remember, if you buy a 2016-plate 5-Series, you are still buying the old model. Something to bear in mind. It's back to the drawing board, I am afraid. Try some other main dealers and see if you can make a better deal work. If it means you must travel, then so be it.

Eddie: I think you are going to throw away thousands no matter what you do. I understand you wishing to get up in the years from 141 but, honestly, it looks like a big waste of money. Would you consider holding off for a while? Let the market settle a bit? You've absorbed the heavy years of depreciation, but if you sell that's only of benefit to the next owner. I'd be conservative here and hold. As you say yourself, the cost to change is "ridiculous".

I live in Dublin and need a car to get to and from work, roughly five miles each way with some traffic jams. My budget is €10,000. The annual mileage is about 3,000km. I would like a small car, hatchback, low tax, like what I have - a 1996 Ford fiesta 1.3 Classic 11 hatchback, 1,297cc with 48,000 miles on the clock.

Aidan: I have three for you. Buy the best Mazda2 you can find. Something with low mileage, a full-service history and from a dealer offering warranty (although it is unlikely you will need it). You should find that 2012 or 2013-plate models are on budget.

There is a broad choice of Renault Clios on the market, so you should consider one of those too. Brilliant little car with loads of style. Opt for a 1.2-litre Dynamique model. And don't rule out another Fiesta. A 1.25-litre Zetec model on a 2012 or 2013-plate would be ideal for you.

Eddie: I'd love to see you buy a secondhand electric car if you have a means of charging it. On your mileage, you'd only have to charge up twice a month at most. How about a secondhand Nissan Leaf or Renault ZOE? If ever there was a case to be made for owning an electric car, this is it.

We are trading in a 2012 Skoda Superb Style (40,000km); 1.4 litre petrol engine. We've been offered approx €11k from the garage. We have about €45k in cash to spend on a new car and are considering either a Mercedes C-Class, a Lexus CT200h or a Lexus IS300h. However, we've been told Lexus cars don't hold their value. We are a small family and don't need a big car, but we want a bit of luxury. Our annual mileage is also low - under 10k a year. We prefer petrol to diesel.

Aidan: Residual values are not quite so straightforward. Please be extra critical of what you read and hear when it comes to values. Be particularly vigilant of residuals expressed as percentages only, as there are loads of different ways to calculate values. While some can look credible, most of the ones I have read have no basis in reality whatsoever. Rant over.

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I think a Lexus IS300h would be lovely for you and that bit nicer than a CT200h. Go for the F-Sport model. Smashing bit of kit and you'll really enjoy the power and silence from the drive.

A Mercedes C200 petrol would be equally nice; C180s are fine, but you have the money for a C200 so I strongly advise that route. And with 6pc discount (there's the only percent you can be sure is right when it comes to values) on new ones for 172-plates, it is hard to look past it. Drive both and make your decision.

Each is excellent in its own way, but the interior of the C-Class probably just pips the Lexus. Tough decision, but a nice headache to have.

Eddie: You are buying a lot of car for little mileage but you want the bit of luxury so fair enough. The IS300h is vastly underrated. I've no bother recommending it. The C-Class is newer and fresher. If your driving is mostly around town, the IS hybrid wins. If not, the C-Class shades it.

We have a 2011 Avensis diesel with 61,928km and a 2004 Renault Modus with 73,676km. We are looking for a hatchback as we have a dog. We only use the car for quick trips in the locality mostly, but have trips to Donegal once a month or so. There are four adults - the tallest is 6ft. I like a high seating position and a car that's easy to park. I prefer the manual handbrake too. Our current diesel has not started on several occasions as we don't drive enough. We use the train to commute. We have been looking at the Kia Sportage or the Renault Kadjar. There seems to be very few options for petrol cars. I've read the petrol versions of the Kia and Kadjar are not great. We'll just have one car going forward, and have a budget of €31k, allowing for trade-in on the Avensis of approx €10k.

Aidan: I haven't yet driven a petrol Sportage, but what about a Kia Niro? It's a hybrid and seems to fit your needs perfectly. Perhaps it might be a squeeze for rear passengers, but I encourage you to drive one and see if you can make it work. You might just find the highest grade, Platinum, version is affordable.

Also, look at the Toyota C-HR. You can opt for a 1.2-petrol to cut down on costs, but your budget should get you into a new 1.8-litre hybrid version. Lunas are nice but Luna Sports are better. You should also fare well with your Avensis in a dealership. Low-mileage 2011 models in good condition are sought after, so I think you will find a good deal can be had.

If both of those are too small, then opt for a SEAT Ateca 1.4-litre petrol or a Nissan Qashqai 1.2-litre petrol. They are the right size for you and new ones easily come in on budget.

Eddie: You need cabin height for a tall passenger and carrying space for a dog. You've got loads of choice, as Aidan has outlined, but how about the 5-seater - stress 5-seater - version of the new Skoda Kodiaq? The 1.4-litre petrol (125bhp, 150bhp) would definitely suit your mileage and there's loads of room.

We have three-year-old twins and another on the way. I'm driving a 2011 Avensis saloon, and I wonder is there a saloon car that could fit a baby seat plus two high back booster seats or am I doomed and have to go for a Ford SMAX? We don't do massive mileage but diesel would be preferred choice. Budget would be up to €16k.

Aidan: I am not entirely certain you can fit three child seats comfortably across the back of a saloon, but start with the Skoda Superb. If that doesn't work, you have your answer.

Don't dread the thought of an S-Max. They are lovely to drive. However, you might get away with fitting into a Ford C-Max or Toyota Corolla Verso. Those should be big enough and cost a little less. Don't rule out a VW Touran. The thing with space is you're usually better having more than you need, and the Touran is a great option in that case.

Eddie: Buy the SMAX and be finished with it because you are going to need more space, not less, as your children grow.


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).