Should I buy new or second-hand? Help choosing tall car? A smart car for €25k?
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 62, driving an 06 Peugeot 407 (220,000km, 15,000 annual) and am planning to buy new or one-year-old. I am looking for something with plenty of head height in the SUV range. I'm 6ft 3ins. My budget, allowing for a trade-in of about €3,500, is €25,000 - €28,000. I have test driven the Hyundai ix35 and Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and like them all but tending to lean towards Hyundai.
It will mostly be driven by myself or my wife but with the grandkids to be transported now and again a 5-seater will suffice. Is there anything else I should consider in that range? Should I buy new or maybe go for a one-or-2-year old knowing this will probably reduce my trade in value.
Aidan: Crossovers are enjoying a honeymoon period. Their values are among the best in the market and the cost to change on a like-for-like basis is paltry. Values are unlikely to remain as strong forever but they still represent a sensible purchase.
Once you've decided on which model to choose (I think they're all as good as one another) you could do one of three things. First, try and negotiate a good price for a 151 demonstration model. Secondly, you could opt for a 141 or 142 hire drive model that has returned late to the market.
Hire drives are ex-rentals that go out on short to medium term leases to fleet companies and return to the market as freshly used cars at discounted prices. Expect to find a good bargain but with your annual mileage it would be best not to take something with a saucy odometer reading.
Lastly, you could hold out for a 151 hire drive. The first wave of 3-month fleet vehicles are due to arrive back to the market anytime soon. The bulk will come back in September and October. There is usually a good mix of mileage, specs and colours.
Eddie: Take a look too at the Kia Sportage - I know a couple of tall people (with bad backs) who bless them because they are easy to get into. The Ford Kuga and Skoda Yeti are others to look at.
Aidan's advice on age-of-car is excellent, especially a 151-demo model. But I'd buy new if I were you. You have the money, dealers are anxious to sell (either now or July - 152-reg) and it will be a one-owner car which will have a bearing on its future value.
Do the maths, but I bet there won't be that much of a gap between what you pay in real terms.
I am a 30-year-old single woman. I have a Peugeot 206 with 105,000 miles and I'm going to buy a new car. I want something sporty and smart and reliable. I have €25,000 to spend but I will not be trading in my car as a family member is taking it. What would you recommend?
I don't need a lot of space but I have a 60km round trip commute four days a week so I want something economical and comfortable too. Can you advise please?
Aidan: Your budget is generous. You might not need to spend it all. If you found the 206 roomy then stick with superminis. Most models in that segment have grown up quite a bit in the intervening nine years.
Also, they tend to represent cost effective vehicle ownership as they are not only cheap to run and maintain but also they hold strong residuals right across the board.
Start with the Hyundai i20. It's deceptively big. You can afford to get a lovely Deluxe or Premium model.
The Ford Fiesta is another great option. In Zetec trim with the 1.25 engine, the little Ford is among the best in its class.
A Toyota Yaris in Sol trim would be a lovely motor - they are highly desirable as used cars, which is important for when the time comes to trade it back in.
Honda is releasing a new Jazz - a car I have long admired. The seating position in the Jazz is usually excellent. The Skoda Fabia is virtually faultless, too.
If you decide to write a cheque for the full amount of your budget then seriously consider the Audi A1. You will get a premium feel from a small car - something rare indeed. The petrol TSi engine suits the car perfectly.
Have you seen the new FIAT 500X? It's a mini-crossover and it looks fantastic.
Eddie: I'd wait to test out the new Honda Jazz if I were you. I've seen it and sat into it and I think it is big enough to keep your journey comfortable and small enough to be economical. Nice, smart car and you'll have a good few thousand left over.
In fairness Aidan has given you a comprehensive outline of other alternatives, all worthy in their own way.
I am a retired 67-year-old. I have an 08 Nissan Primera, my third, (clean interior, multiple scratches on outside). I do not like the Qashqai. My estimated mileage is 9,000km/12,000km. I need space in the boot for a few sets of golf clubs. I would prefer a saloon.
My budget is €16,000 + value of trade-in (can go higher for something special). I do not want to go under 131. Would like nice looking comfortable car. Suggestions?
Aidan: As an avid golfer I know that anything more than two sets of clubs with gear bags and electric trolleys is a stretch for many cars, especially saloons. Also, most family saloons are priced in the late €20,000 to early €30,000 so finding a 131 with sensible mileage for anything less than €20,000 will be incredibly difficult.
I drive a Mazda6 5dr lift-back version. I always bang on about it but it's brilliant. The boot swallows two golf bags and all the other accoutrements with no fuss whatsoever. I could probably get three to four bags into the boot if I didn't need to bring trollies.
Your budget will get you a lovely 2011 (maybe 2012) 2.2 diesel Executive SE model. An estate is probably more ideal, though. Although rare, a 2.0 TDCi Ford Mondeo estate would be perfect for you, especially in Titanium trim. The five door lift-back version would suffice.
The larger capacity Ford engines are better suited to carrying heavy loads and they are somewhat more reliable.
The same advice is true of the VW Passat. The 2.0 TDi version is a sweeter proposition and won't tire under heavy loads.
Eddie: Have to mention the Skoda Octavia estate here. It will take the putting green as well as the golf bags. You'll get a good diesel, nice-looking car and loads of room.
I need to buy a car because I have to travel a bit now but I'm told cars lose a lot of value in their first two or three years so should I buy one of them and not a new one?
I have €20k and it was hard earned so I want to get best value. Could you advise?
Aidan: I specialise in residual values and for the most part (barring exceptional circumstances) cars fall by a greater amount within the first two to three years.
However, lots of factors influence the rate of the drop. If a car's new retail price increases, this can have a stabilising effect on freshly used cars. The corollary has the opposite effect.
It is common conjecture that a car "loses half its value as soon as it drives out the forecourt". This is patently untrue. Of course it loses some value but unless you trade the car back in again immediately, getting the use of the car tends to offset the depreciation.
Also, buying as new a car as possible, means you avail of the latest technologies and retain as much of the manufacturer's warranty as possible. These two things have obvious and tangible benefits.
Maybe look for a one-year-old or even take the advice from the first question and buy a hire drive or ex-fleet car. This way you get a practically new car, lots of warranty and gizmos but the initial hit has been taken by someone else.
Family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus, Toyota Auris, VW Golf (and so on) make great "one size fits all" cars. Don't rule out petrol cars if you do low mileage. Your budget will stretch further with a petrol.
Eddie: You are correct; cars lose value so the newer you buy the more you 'lose'. But there is a lot more to it than that. You get much more with your new car today than you did three years ago.
However, good used cars such as the Focus, Auris, Golf hold values really well.
Your money is hard-earned but let nothing get in the way of buying as safe a car as you can - and that means as new as you can manage.