Sports car? First car? Downsizing? Toyota diesel? Switch to SUV?
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 would like to buy a sports car. I am 63 and have taken early retirement. With the family grown up and gone, I wish to treat myself for once. It's just me but I play golf, so I need a decent boot. Current car is a VW Golf that's going to my eldest son.
Aidan: In addition to the 3-litre V6 model, Jaguar has introduced its F-Type with a 2-litre petrol engine with 300PS. This not only trims the price by more than €20,000, it also reduces annual motor tax to €570, making it far more fiscally prudent as two-seater coupes go.
However, boot space will just about accommodate a golf bag, so if you use a Powacaddy or Motocaddy you might need to look at something more practical like a Mercedes E-Class coupe or a BMW 4-Series.
Admittedly, they might not be considered sports cars in the strictest interpretation of the term, but I think that they strike a more usable balance for your needs.
There is also a broad variety of engines and power outputs across both fuel types.
Opt for an AMG Line E-Class or an M Sport 4-Series. If you can go even bigger (and pricier), the new Mercedes CLS is highly accomplished. I drove it in Barcelona and was impressed. It's a different animal to a conventional sports car, though.
You could opt for a used Porsche 911, but you need to buy a proper one and do your homework on model differences and maintenance. It can be a minefield.
A Porsche Cayman would be a better and less costly solution.
Don't look past a Golf GTi. Seriously. It takes golf clubs and shopping bags and it can be frantic on demand. I would consider it a treat at any budget. And if the desire for a sports car wears off, you still have a practical hatchback as a safety net.
Eddie: My heart says Jaguar F-TYPE 2-litre, but my head says Golf GTi Performance Pack. Probably the Golf because it is more practical. Yes, definitely GTi.
I'm 25 and have just got my licence. I am renting in a large town that's 50km from my home. I have been getting lifts at weekends but now the other driver is moving to Dublin so I'm thinking of buying my own car. I have a budget of around €10,000. What would you advise?
Aidan: It is your first car so at an absolute minimum you should buy from a reputable dealership and get 12 months' comprehensive warranty. Reducing your risk is the aim of the used car game.
Look at the Ford Fiesta. It allows for a simplified buying process because most of them are 1.25-litre petrol Zetec models so you only need to focus on mileage and condition. You will have plenty of choice, too.
A 1.2-litre petrol SEAT Ibiza (on a 151-plate and before it became a 1.0-litre) in SE trim would be ideal, too. It's just about on budget (you might need a smidgen more for a low mileage one) and it's often overlooked.
If you want or need more bulk around you, you should consider a Toyota Auris. I know, I know - another Auris recommendation. However, you should have more choice with a used petrol Auris at this budget than most other large family hatchbacks, and your mileage does not warrant driving a diesel.
However, if you plan on driving more, then look at a Kia cee'd. Good value and nice equipment levels on the most popular selling EX model.
Eddie: In addition, I'd have to add the Volkswagen Polo and Toyota Yaris. Plenty of them out there, but a little costlier because they are in demand second-hand.
I need a smaller car than my current Audi A6 (12-reg) diesel. Will I suffer in a trade-in against a small hatchback? Should I sell separately and import?
Aidan: Be careful when downsizing. Also, what is your definition of a small hatchback? If it is a Polo/Yaris/Fiesta sized car then you are leapfrogging a lot of shapes and sizes on your way back there? If you mean something like a Golf or an Astra then the readjustment will be noticeable but less severe.
I think you will find it difficult to achieve something resembling a straight swap.
If your intention is to change cars without having to spend anything, then you might fare better selling your car privately and using the proceeds from the sale to buy something on a straight sale basis.
Superminis are generally not economical to import. I think you should keep things simple and buy from a dealer here who will give you warranty.
Eddie: Yes, you will suffer trading in against a small hatchback. It's going to come as a big shock to you, so I propose you take half a step and buy yourself a nice small hatch such as the Audi A3.
Why? It keeps you in the brand and helps to avert a heavy hit on your trade-in's value.
Otherwise sell privately - be prepared for a lot of calls - and buy a good fresh A3 here or in the UK. Do your maths carefully after checking which route provides lowest cost of change. Factor everything into your calculations such as, in the case of an import, any travel/accommodation involved.
We have a five-year-old Toyota Avensis diesel. I read from Mr Cunningham that they are not going to sell new ones any more. What should I do because I want to change? We do around 25,000km a year.
Aidan: Your mileage infers you need a diesel. You want to change this year and obviously Toyota still has diesel Avensis models to sell.
I say, go buy another diesel Avensis. It is obviously sensible to future-proof your motoring needs, but unless you can make a Toyota Prius work for you (and you might be able to, so certainly consider one), stick with the Avensis for now and make the decision to switch to hybrid or buy another diesel from a different brand next time around.
I am sure there are many more people like you, but in the absence of better guidance from the Government on how they intend recycling traditional engines out of the system, you are left with no more suitable an option than to buy the best car for you today. And that is a new Toyota Avensis diesel.
Eddie: Toyota say that they are expecting firm demand for their diesels on the second-hand market for some time, so there's no major worry.
I agree with Aidan on how poorly informed we have been on how we get from the diesel era to the electric era, but these things can take time.
That said, I would definitely try out the Prius as well. It's big, roomy and depending on your journey profile could be the car for you.
On balance, I'd be going that way. You might as well start now as next time.
I have had a Toyota Corolla since 2014, but with my family growing up I would like to buy an SUV to take the four of us out at weekends. What would you suggest? I think your column is excellent and so helpful every week.
Aidan: Thanks for your kind words. If you want to stick with Toyota, then look at the RAV4. If you can't buy brand new, then focus on a low mileage Luna model.
If you fancy a move and want something different from the volume sellers such as the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai (not that there is anything wrong with those whatsoever), then you should consider the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5.
The CR-V is a frugal SUV with an excellent 1.6-litre diesel engine. ES models hit the sweet spot in terms of kit and value for money. It's got a big boot and great headroom for rear passengers.
Don't be surprised if the Mazda CX-5 is dearer than other SUVs. It starts out more expensive and holds it value excellently. It's also bigger than a lot of the others and has a 2.2-litre diesel engine, so it's potentially well suited to travelling long distances with your growing family.
Eddie: One crossover well worth looking at in terms of price is the SEAT Ateca, in addition to what Aidan suggests.
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We love getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:
* Budget (including trade-in).
* Annual mileage (in kms).
* Size of car required (number of seats).
* Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.