Small-mileage buy? Car for bad roads? Q5 alternative?
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'.
Could you please advise on best option to go for?
1) My budget is approximately €25,000.
2) Annual mileage is about 8,000km.
3) Would prefer a 5-seater hatchback.
4) My present car is an 04 Ford Mondeo Ghia 2-litre petrol. Mileage: 140,000 miles.
5) High tax on current car is a big issue for me.
Aidan: Your generous budget pays for the problem of high tax to go away. You have virtually unlimited choice in the market. Narrowing your options will be the only headache for you.
The new Honda Civic is worth pursuing. I think it has an interesting design and I was impressed by its interior. Go for the 1.0 litre turbo petrol version.
Historically, the Civic has tended to be a bit dearer than its rivals, and the new one is no exception. An entry level Smart model is on budget, but if you want more kit you might have to settle for an ex-demo Smart Plus version. I wouldn't be turned off by an ex-demo.
Hyundai has just refreshed its i30 and a Deluxe model is attainable. Look at it because it comes with a five-year warranty.
I am a fan of Mazdas in general, and the Mazda3 might be a good option as it is quite spacious and will go forever. You can get a 1.5 litre petrol Executive model.
Finally, the VW Golf has just been refreshed. There are a few runout Allstar models still available and they will represent good value for money.
Gauge the quality of deals now, but don't rule out hanging on until July to see what offers abound on 172-plate models. Buy a Comfortline version at a minimum.
Eddie: That is small annual mileage really. And I could give you as many more names as Aidan has just done: Skoda Octavia, Ford Focus, Kia cee'd, Opel Astra . . . and many, many more. All of these are excellent choices in their own way.
But I am just wondering if an electric car would be a good bet for you on the basis of a mere 150km/160km a week - that is the equivalent of just one charge-up for an electric car. Road tax is €120 and your running costs are really low. If persuaded, the one to buy is the Nissan Leaf: you'll get a nice spec version for €25,000. Have a think about it.
There's no hurry because I think you should wait for the July reg to buy.
I have been driving the same car for the past decade. It is now 17 years old. Although it carries enormous sentimental value and I love driving it, I feel it is time to move on. I am a female professional over 30. I drive 600km a week - 300km of narrow and poorly-maintained country roads and 300km of motorway. I would really like a status car, but realistically I need something that will fit my lifestyle for years to come - suitable for family life. There is no budget limitation, but I would prefer to spend less than €30k. Any would be greatly appreciated.
Aidan: You cover roughly 30,000 kilometres per annum. That's not excessive, but it is a lot so you need something comfortable and frugal.
You mention that you want something to last "for years to come". That is somewhat vague, but maybe it's an inference that you will keep it for longer than three years.
That changes my tactics for you. I was going to suggest for you to think about buying a low mileage one-year-old, keeping it for three years and then going again on that cycle.
If you can afford to do this, then you have no need to future-proof your car for such long periods and you can stay in something with warranty.
But it sounds like you intend keeping the car for longer. If that is the case, then consider an SUV.
Their taller seating positions are great for visibility on winding roads and especially for safely overtaking. Their boot sizes and rear leg room should be ample for when the family arrives.
Would you consider using your beloved car in a scrappage deal? Some manufacturers offer them. Look at the Hyundai Tucson. Start at the Comfort Plus model as it is on budget, but I bet you will prefer the Executive one instead.
The new Peugeot 3008 SUV is worth a close look. The Allure model is out of reach, but the Active trim with 120bhp is still excellent value and it's got a very fresh design. I can see it being quite a popular choice on the 172-plate this July. And I think the Renault Kadjar merits mention as it is such good value for money. Even high-grade Dynamique S Nav models are on budget.
Eddie: I'm mindful of build quality here because of the poor roads you traverse. Any car can feel smooth on the motorway. You need something that will take the hit on poorer back roads.
You've had your current car for so long and you're planning on doing something similar with your next one, so I'd advise a Toyota Corolla, Toyota Auris, Mazda3 or a Honda Civic. I'd buy the Corolla.
I have three-year-old Audi Q5 and I'm disappointed that the new one looks almost the same. I read Eddie's 'First Drive' and he spoke of it being lighter, better equipped and all that, but made the point there isn't much change in looks. What would you advise? I want something different for that sort of money. I do 20,000km a year and we have two young children. Diesel or petrol? Really value your advice and enjoy the supplement.
Aidan: Have a look at the Q5 in the metal. I like it. Eddie is right, the changes are subtle but you know you will end up with a quality product. If you add in Audi MMI Nav and Virtual Cockpit as optional extras, then you have a different driver's view from your Q5.
Don't strike it from the shortlist just yet. The BMW X3 is a solid alternative. You don't say if your Q5 is a 2WD or Quattro version, but I quite fancy four-wheel drive when it comes to premium SUVs, so I would stump the extra few quid and get an X3 in 20d xDrive SE automatic trim. Nothing wrong with the 18d SDrive either.
Interestingly, you are considering that diesel might not be for you. You are limited with choice in this category, but the Lexus NX300h provides a hybrid alternative. It is also aesthetically different to everything else in its segment. It would be quite a departure from your Q5, though.
There is also a brand-new Volvo XC60, which is handsome.
For the moment, the plug-in hybrid is probably too far a stretch for you, but the €53,950 price tag of the D4 AWD Momentum model is about on par with similar models from Audi and BMW.
Eddie: Despite my First Drive comments, I still find the Q5 an excellent product so don't dismiss it just yet. But there is one car, apart from those alluded to by Aidan, that I would advocate you examine in some detail. It is the Mercedes GLC. I rate it highly. It isn't a brand new car on the market like the Q5 but, that reservation apart, it is the one I'd be leaning towards.
I have just got a job in the greater Dublin area and intend driving up from the midlands. I have €17,000 between borrowings and savings. My family would have need of the car at the weekends sometimes because we have relatives in the west and we visit a lot. What would you recommend?
Aidan: I thought we might get through a week where the Skoda Octavia escapes a mention, but it's just so appropriate for so many people. Get a low mileage 2014-plate Octavia because you will rack up a decent odometer with your commute.
I also think that a 142-plate Hyundai i40 would make a lot of sense considering it will mean you will have manufacturer-backed, unlimited mileage warranty until mid-2019. Your car is going to be a heavily used utility, so the i40 will help stem the cost of remedial works for a few years.
Eddie: You need a one-fits-all car really; single occupancy for you and more seats for the family. The Octavia is a good bet, but might be too big for you during the week. If not buy it.
If it is, think about a fresh 1.6-litre diesel VW Golf, Ford Focus, 1.4-diesel Toyota Auris or the really frugal 1.6 Peugeot 308 diesel.
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:
* Total budget.
* Annual mileage.
* Size of car required (number of seats).
* Present car (make, model, year and mileage).