Sunday 17 February 2019

Thinking of buying a new or second-hand car? Here are the answers to readers' queries


Kia Niro
Kia Niro

Car-value expert Gillian Keogh teams up with Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham to help you make the right choice with your next purchase. Gillian is Editor of a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars produced by the Motor Trade Publishers team. The team supplies a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses

I have a 1998 Opel Astra 5dr 1.2-litre petrol, which I love and will hate to part with.

I feel safe in it and it has a large boot for storing golf clubs etc.

Recently a truck went into the back left-hand passenger door, which may force me to change now rather than later.

I am told by my mechanic that I got one of the last good Opels.

I am retired on state pension and my car opens life possibilities for me.

Budget is €16k/€20k. I need a large boot and five seats.

If I could get a demo model or a car one or two years old in good condition, it might suit, but would this be chancy?

Annual mileage 6,000km. I am considering a Hyundai i20 or i30, Toyota Yaris, Peugeot 208 or Skoda Octavia. I'd appreciate your opinion.

Gillian: A demo or one or two-year-old isn't chancy at all. If you can find one out there it would be great. Demo models come to the market at this time of year.

A Hyundai i20 is a good option, but the current model has been around since 2015. The i30 would be a fresher choice. A 171-reg 1.4 Deluxe or Deluxe Plus would cost between €17,500 and €19,000 and the boot would take the clubs and trolley.

A Toyota Yaris might be the way to go. A new Luna costs €20,895 but a 181 or even 171-reg would fit your budget more comfortably. The only concern is boot space.

The Peugeot 208 is a similar story to the i20; the current model is around since 2012.

Last, but perhaps the best option for you, is the Skoda Octavia, which is larger than the others and comes with a 1-litre petrol. Only launched in 2017, it's in your budget and I think it's what you are after.

Eddie: I'd additionally look at a fresh KIA cee'd station wagon. It's compact but surprisingly roomy - ideal for what you want. And there will be plenty of the seven-year warranty left.

I have a 161 Mazda6 diesel (70,000km). I want to trade it in because I have the chance to buy a car through a business, but it would need to be electric to avail of the BIK exemption.

I am looking for a car of similar size and would need to handle a 70km commute a day. Alternatively, I am looking to buy a new car myself and would have €15k to spend plus trade-in. What would you recommend please?

Gillian: The problem is there are no direct electric counterparts to your Mazda6 yet. There are plug-ins, such as the Passat GTE 1.4 TSi, KIA Niro and the Toyota Prius, but not a full electric.

Unless you go smaller and look at full EVs such as the under-€30k Nissan Leaf, Hyundai IONIQ, Renault ZOE, the slightly more expensive VW Golf or the far more expensive BMW i3 or Tesla S, you are not going to get the same size of saloon.

If you decide to buy privately with your €30 to €33k budget (depending on condition and trim of your car), then go for a hybrid.

The Toyota Prius hybrid might suit. You could get into a brand new 182 or 191 if you wait until January.

I would prefer the C-HR for similar money, but it's an SUV, not a saloon, so I'm not sure if it's what you like.

Eddie: To avail of 0pc BIK, your business car has to be fully electric. Gillian has outlined the alternatives. Yes, they are small compared with what you require but don't rule out the lower-priced ones.

Still, my advice would be to wait, if you can, until early next year. There are a good few EVs being lined up for arrival later this year - though, be warned, many are, and will be, crossover or SUV-type, such as the KIA Niro (which just might suit you).

I drive a diesel (1.6 VW Passat). Like a lot of people, I'm considering moving to a hybrid. One of the factors is fuel economy.

I understand that for urban driving, a hybrid over diesel would be a more economic option.

However, most of the driving I do is motorway-based: journeys of around 160km (Dublin to Tipperary at weekends).

How does a hybrid compare to a diesel for longer trips?

Would you know what make and model of hybrid has the best fuel efficiency for motorway/countryside driving?

Gillian: I drive a hybrid myself. It is working out well on fuel compared with my last 1.6 petrol-engined car. I am getting 10 to 12 days' driving for the same cost as five to six days in my last car.

However, I do mostly urban drives and if I take it out for a good spin down the M50 and beyond, it just behaves like my old car.

That's not to say don't get a hybrid, but a diesel might be for you.

The Toyota Prius hybrid is a good option. Also look at the KIA Niro plug-in.

Eddie: As Gillian says, hybrids do best in city driving, but Toyota has data that shows the engine works a lot less than is widely perceived on longer runs.

Don't forget the batteries/electric motor work away on those journeys too, reducing the workload on the engine.

So on a size basis, the Prius looks a real alternative for you if you've your heart set on switching out of the Passat - a car I like a lot and would be happy to stay with for another while.

I have a 2012 Audi A4 diesel with basic spec. I would love to upgrade to a newer, higher spec A4 or something similar, perhaps even an A3 saloon.

I would like to go for petrol or hybrid. I have no family, so the seats are not hugely important, but I would like to stick with a saloon. I have a short commute and maybe a long trip once a month or so.

Would be grateful for any suggestions. Budget: €25,000 plus trade-in. Annual mileage: 15,000 kms. Present car: 2012 Audi A4 TDi SE, 96,000km.

Gillian: The A3 saloon is a nice motor. I think you should go for it. I'd advocate the 1.5 petrol (150bhp). There is a 1-litre option, but I'd suggest the 1.5 as you're coming from the A4.

With a budget of around €35k, a new top-of-the-line S-Line might just be out (but maybe not, depending on your A4's km reading and condition). An SE would fit. How about going for an auto at €35,510 new? That's where I'd go.

If you don't mind a 17-reg, you should be able to find an A4 1.4 S-Line or even better, a 181 demo might be waiting for you in your local Audi dealer.

Eddie: Minimise fuss and buy a better-specced A4 with either a 1.4 (from around €38,000 new) or 2-litre petrol engine (my choice, but it costs north of €43,000 new).

You are used to the A4 and I feel you'd notice the lack of room (not that you need a lot) and presence on the road for your longer journeys if you go for something smaller. So, fresh or new, better-specced A4 it is.

As a 23-year-old woman, I find myself looking to buy a small car of my own after driving the family Corolla for some years. I have a budget of €20,000 (savings, loan).

I'll be travelling 15,000km a year to work and work-related meetings. I'd like a stylish hatchback. I don't want diesel.

Gillian: This all depends on how small you are talking. An Audi A1 or MINI One is an obvious choice. Both within budget for a 181-reg.

If these are too small and you're looking for a bigger hatchback, I suggest the Honda Civic. You should just about get into a 171 1.0 Smart Plus spec.

Another one I like is the Kia cee'd. The 1.0 GT Line is one where you can pick up a 171 for around €18k, so it won't take up all your budget.

Eddie: I suggest you concentrate on a (stylish) mainstream supermini and still have a few euro left over.

There's a huge choice, but I'd be talking high-trim versions of the following: new Volkswagen Polo (5dr), new Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris (still going strong) and, a favourite of mine, the Honda Jazz.

Help us help you

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.

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