Thursday 26 April 2018

Small car but not Polo? Motor for mum (73)? Looking at lower mileage

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'.

Picture posed
Picture posed

I had a car accident in July and my Volkswagen Polo 2004 was an economical write-off and was sent for scrappage. I am still trying to find a car, similar size but I don't want a VW this time. My budget is €8,000 max. I am looking for mileage less than 100,000km,1.2 engine, 5dr. Would you have any ideas as purchasing the car is now critical as I have a five-month-old baby and l live in the country.

Aidan: We have had some similar requests to your one recently and all of them at this budget, which explains the strength in values in the supermini segment. There is ample demand to meet supply. The differences in values between one year and another are tiny. This means that you will sometimes compare seemingly identical models with different registration plates but the older one might cost more money. Don't be disheartened.

Compare each of our choices in terms of mileage, condition, seller type (dealer versus private), and service record. If the older car has lower mileage and a happier and more transparent back story, then the reg plate goes out the window. Buy the best car for your money, not the newest. When fielding questions about the used supermini segment, my default choice is always the Mazda2. Great 1.3 litre engine, which is in equal parts reliable, spritely and fuel efficient. Opt for a Sensu model over the Comfort version if you can. All models have ISOFIX for baby seats. With this budget, you are looking at 2011 and maybe 2012 models but remember the advice from earlier.

Sticking with Japanese brands, try the Honda Jazz. You sit taller in a Jazz and it feels a touch roomier than other superminis. It came with a choice of 1.2 or 1.4 litre engines. Don't be put off by the 1.4, but check if your insurer loads your premium for it. The 1.2 is more popular anyway.

When it comes to reliability, a Honda dealer I know once told me that Jazz's are so reliable that "you could weld the bonnet shut on them". I don't doubt it. I like the Jazz for you because the demographic of buyers tends to be the more mature and conscientious type (polite speak for "older").

Truth be told, all superminis are excellent. It's a segment where every brand uses different ingredients but makes equally impressive machines. You are splitting hairs to find any big differences so broaden your search to the Fiesta, Yaris, Fabia, Ibiza, Clio, Corsa as well. As an outside choice, opt for a Nissan Note. It's a little bigger than the superminis. At this budget, you will see plenty of 1.4 litre models. So long as your insurance doesn't spike, there is nothing to fear in terms of running costs.

Eddie: What can I say? Aidan has given you all the options really. The Jazz would be my first pick. The Nissan Micra is one of those cars that drives forever and while not to everyone's taste I think it might be suitable for you. There are plenty of them, parts are plentiful and prices are reasonable. Top two for you.

I wish to change my car. I drive a 2001 Toyota Corolla hatchback. Mileage is 168,824. I used to drive to Cork a lot from Galway, but no longer so mileage now is around 10,000km a year. I would like a new or nearly-new car, not too big but not too small either. Probably 4dr but not bothered. I would like low tax, good mileage to the litre. Budget around €20,000 max. I was thinking of changing in January. I have had a Toyota for long time. I plan in retiring next year. I am on my own so would appreciate some suggestions.

Aidan: You don't want a recommendation overload so here are my two choices; the Hyundai i20 and the Peugeot 2008. The i20 will suit you down to the ground. It is quite a way bigger than the model it replaced and is probably best summarised by your description of wanting a car that is "neither too big, nor too small".

It has a lovely 1.2 litre petrol engine and it costs €200 to tax. While prices start at €15,995 for a Comfort model, I think you should pay the €1500 premium for the Deluxe version. It comes with slightly bigger wheels (actually makes a difference to the i20's appearance), and a smattering of creature comforts such as cruise control, Bluetooth, and rear parking sensors as standard. A comprehensively kitted and refined machine in its entirety.

Onto the Peugeot 2008. The seating position is more elevated than in superminis and Peugeot has done a cracking job of giving the 2008 a facelift this year. No botched surgery or squinting to notice the differences with it. Buy the 1.2 petrol because you definitely don't need diesel.

The Active model with 82bhp will set you back a shade over €20,000 and like the i20, it's annual motor tax charge is €200 (pending the outcome of the forthcoming Budget). I like the 2008 for its well-roundedness. It is spacious, comfortable, stylish, easy to manoeuvre, and represents good value for money. If a new model 2008 stretches your €20,000 budget too much then don't write it off the list entirely.

You could find that some late returning hire drive 162 plate cars are still available come January. These should represent a decent saving but you won't have your choice of colour and you won't be the first owner as the car was previously a rental. Nothing to fear, though. Quality demands on dealers these days means that they have to spend the money to freshen their cars back to as near-original a state as they can.

Eddie: I'd buy a Toyota Auris with the 1.33-litre petrol engine. Your budget may be a tiny bit short for a new one but you should easily pick up a nearly-new model. It's a simple and straightforward car. Lots of room, economical, four doors, reliable.

Your existing Toyota seems to have served you well; I see no reason to change brand.

My mother has an Audi A4 and wishes to change to a smaller car. She is looking for something Polo-sized ideally. We are wondering what is the cheapest car for a 73-year-old woman to insure/run? Her current car is an A4 1.8T quattro, so tax is €780 and insurance is similar.

Aidan: Anything other than your mother's present car will represent considerable savings in fuel costs and annual motor tax.

Though difficult to determine the overall savings in insurance, a brand new supermini is certainly in a less risky insurance category than a petrol A4.

You mention your mother wants something Polo sized. Forgive the obvious recommendation, but what about a Polo? It's brilliant and solidly built. If you are buying a new car then you can follow what most people choose and opt for a 1.0 litre Trendline 60bhp model for €16,155.

For an extra €680 your mother can get a 75bhp version. Check the availability of the Innovation Pack upgrade with your local dealer. As part of the 162-reg period, VW bundled features that usually attract a cumulative cost of €1,980 for a mere €162. Great deal. If it's a used Polo you are after, then depending on your mam's budget you can still buy the latest model with a 1.0 litre engine or the last of the old models with the older 1.2 litre.

A Skoda Fabia is virtually identical in its DNA to the Polo. Equally as good a choice and the specification to watch for is the Ambition model. At €15,340, it is a little cheaper than the Polo. Not sure you need to stray from either of these, but as an alternative option take a look at the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. It costs a little over €20,000 so she is not likely to recover all of this additional outlay, but it will run on battery power at town speeds and they never give an ounce of trouble.

Furthermore, because it is a hybrid it has an automatic gearbox, which will remove the strain of changing gears manually.

Eddie: She's going to miss the pep and response from the 1.8-litre petrol. So she is going to have to adapt her driving a bit and be aware her new car won't be able to do things her A4 can.

The Polo/Fabia is a good option but I feel she might be better off getting into an Audi A3 petrol hatchback. Yes it is bigger than a Polo and it won't be new on your budget but it would be a good stepping stone to a smaller car next time.

Just to say

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:

c Total budget.

c Annual mileage.

c Size of car required (number of seats).

c Present car (make, model, year and mileage).

Irish Independent

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