Should I buy an estate? Should I change to petrol? Which do I update?
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 am thinking of buying a new estate. My yearly mileage is 10,000km-15,000km but I make two/three long trips a month with work. My job requires I carry a lot of equipment which just about squeezes into a 2005 1.6 petrol Toyota Avensis saloon. I would like something cheap to run, comfortable on longer journeys, looks classy and fun to drive. I'm willing to spend about €15,000 but could push a little more for the right option. Is an estate model right for me?
Aidan: Ordinarily, I recommend buying a petrol car to anyone with your annual mileage. However, your requirements, the nature of your car usage and your budget means that diesel comes into play. Generally, if you can ensure the car gets regular motorway blasts then you reduce the risk of congested exhaust components such as DPFs.
An estate is a sensible decision. I think the Kia cee'd is a super choice. It's got a frugal 1.6-litre CRDi engine and was habitually supplied with more generous spec than other brands. Look out for TX or Elite models in particular. Kia's extended warranty should provide ample peace of mind.
The same goes for Hyundai's i30SW. Peugeot's 308SW has always been a competent performer too. It's got an excellent 1.6 HDi engine that requires some vigilance when it comes to maintenance but provides good levels of comfort and fuel economy.
Arguably the nicest of the bunch is the Volvo V50. It's got a broadly similar engine to the Peugeot but it is insulated from road, wind and engine noise a little better. V50s are scarce and attract a premium. Where your budget could just stretch to a 2012 model cee'd, i30 or 308, it will likely only return a clean, low-mileage 2011 model V50.
If those choices are too small, then a Mondeo estate is a good option. Try to find a 2.0 TDCi model - the sweetest engine in the range.
Eddie: Go out and buy yourself a well-specced Skoda Octavia Combi (estate). You knew I'd say that, didn't you Aidan? I like the ones you've mentioned too, especially the Kia; sweet car.
Our budget is €10k to €15k. We have two Volkswagens: A 2010 1.6-litre Golf Plus 100,000km, and a 2008 1.9 TDi Passat with 62,000km. Both have full service history and are pristine. Comfort + extras spec on both. Average annual mileage is only circa 10,000km. We are thinking of trading up one of these, but garage trade-up allowances on both have been dismal. Perhaps Passat is too good to be true. Would you advise we keep the Passat and update the Golf just to keep one vehicle newish?
Aidan: Conventional thinking would be to get rid of the older car and keep rotating your driveway with newer models every few years. However, your Passat probably won't lose much more in the next 12 months, so there is a convincing argument for keeping it a while longer.
Do not place too much emphasis on the amount of money the dealer is offering you as that is only part of the transaction. The most important element is the amount of money the dealer wants from you to buy the car in which you are interested.
Test a few dealers' figures and see if spending your budget along with your Golf Plus as a trade-in doesn't get you close to the new price of a brand new Golf SV. You do not need a diesel either so take a close look at the 1.2 TSi model.
You could find that non-VW group dealers are a bit nervous of your Golf Plus as they are not in massive demand. If a VW dealer also sells Skoda or SEAT then you have a broader choice from those brands too. I like the Yeti but it's not to everyone's taste. The SEAT Leon ST is the estate version which would be great for the family but it's not as tall as the Golf SV.
Eddie: Keep the Passat. Trade the Golf Plus against a Toyota Verso, Nissan Qashqai or a Skoda Yeti.
I have a 2011 Renault Laguna auto with all mod cons. Unfortunately, the Laguna is no more and it is time for me to change. I am not keen on any other Renault. I am keen to buy a new Audi A4 or A6 auto. I have a good budget. This will be my last new car. I expect to be retiring soon. I have been advised the trade-in value on my Laguna is poor especially against a car other than a Renault. My car is in immaculate condition; it has 84,000km on the clock. My annual mileage is approximately 22,000km/25,000 km. What sort of trade-in should I expect against my Laguna for an Audi A4 or A6? How would I go about getting the best value for my Laguna trade-in?
Aidan: Shop around. You are a new customer for another brand and so you do not have any allegiances. Keep knocking on doors and pressing the flesh of sales people until you get a deal you are happy with.
Audi dealerships are evenly spaced around the country so if convenience is important then bring it to your local dealer. If you opt for a demonstrator model instead of a brand new build, you could find there is more wriggle room on the price.
It will be unusual to find an automatic A4 as a demo car but you will need to jump up quite a fair bit to get an A6. If this is financially viable then I think it's a better route. Where the A4 is due to be replaced next year, the A6 has just been revised and has a spec option called SE Business, a more fuel efficient Ultra engine and a switch to using a slicker S'Tronic gearbox.
There is always the option to wait another year for the new A4 which could come with Audi's new virtual cockpit interior which is a real treat.
Eddie: I think you should bite the bullet and sell the Laguna privately. Take whatever hit you are going to take up front. Then the world is your oyster and you do not have the burden of a trade-in. Sorry but that's what your car is at this point in time.
The Audi A4 you like is coming to the end of its current cycle. You could hold off as Aidan suggests but you could also, as a cash buyer, drive one hell of a bargain with that knowledge.
I drive a diesel but now I have stopped working and feel it's a waste to have it sitting in the driveway. So I was thinking of going back to a petrol. I drive a 131 Opel Astra saloon 1.7 diesel with 37km on the clock. My budget would be €10,000 max with my trade-in. I don't think I will be putting much more than 12,000km annually on the clock. I would like a hatchback with bit of style and haven driven a Mondeo previously. I was thinking of the new Mondeo 1.5 Titanium EcoBoost petrol (around €24,000).
Aidan: Well it seems that you have done all of the work for me and Eddie. You are right to revert to petrol and the new Mondeo is lovely. However, apart from the Mondeo 1.5 Ecoboost (which I haven't driven yet) you don't have much choice when it comes to 5dr versions of saloons so you might need to broaden your horizons.
The Lexus CT200h is a sensible choice. It is more expensive but refined and has a lovely hybrid engine and automatic transmission that will suit your short journeys perfectly. An S-Design model costs just over €30,000. 141 registered models suit your budget better.
If you want lots of room and a frugal petrol engine then the SEAT Leon ST will offer both in spades. Your budget will get you a lovely 1.2 TSi with a DSG (auto) gearbox. It's a slightly peculiar specification but it fits the bill perfectly.
Eddie: What's your hurry with the Astra? Don't ditch it because it is a diesel. It's a good car and you've shipped two years' depreciation already. You are only benefitting whoever buys it. If you mean to push on as outlined you need to look at the Toyota Corolla or Auris 1.33-litre petrol.