Wednesday 19 December 2018

Towing line? New family car; summer upgrade; deadline deal; UK return buy?


Honda HR-V
Honda HR-V

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 was lucky enough to be able to retire a year ago and have moved up the country - I am a keen fisherman. When finishing work I bought a 142 Opel Astra diesel as a stop-gap option. I'm keen to look at a good robust estate or SUV to be able to tow a 19ft lake boat. My budget is between €10k and €15k, plus the Astra as a trade-in. I do around 2k/2.5k a month, mostly local, plus trips to see family. I had a Subaru Forrester, which I really loved, but it seems to be outside my budget at the moment. Any help would be much appreciated.

Aidan: I don't know how heavy a 19ft lake boat and trailer weighs, but let's say you need to be able to tow at least 1,500kgs. Also, your budget is loose, so we will assume a maximum of around €25,000.

It is crucial, not just in a legal context but also from a safety perspective, that you buy something that can safely tow the mass you are pulling, so check the towing figures carefully.

Suitable new cars might be out of budget so try to find clean, low-mileage, used models instead. Start with the Mitsubishi Outlander. I recommended it last week as a great 4WD option, and I think it will work well for you, too. Great engine, traction and towing capacities and all in a decent value for money package.

Look also at the Mazda CX-5. It can tow a braked mass of two tonnes. It has a strong engine with loads of torque and a comfortable interior.

Another Forester? You know its capabilities already.

The Ford Mondeo estate is a great choice if you don't want an SUV, but make sure that it is the 2-litre diesel version. It's a superior engine for your needs. Get the Zetec model and make sure it has the Appearance Pack.

Eddie: It is imperative you know how much you need towed and that you meet the legal and licence requirements. It is a complicated area, but I found Skoda were brilliant with their information at a special event in the not-too-distant past. If you're anywhere near a Skoda dealer, you can avail of their expertise. This is not to mention the fact that they have some excellent towing machines (4x4s mostly), such as the Octavia and Superb Combi models.

Along with Aidan's choices, I'd take a look at Skoda. And, yes, another Forester is a real option.


I was looking at buying a fresh Golf from a dealer but needed time to think and work out my budget. I was then told the car was going back on the market within 24 hours if I hadn't reached a decision. I let it go, but I wanted to ask, is this acceptable practice? Surely people are entitled to take their time? Should I have bought?

Aidan: I sympathise with you. Big-ticket items require more consideration. On the face of things, being given a few days to think things through does not seem unreasonable.

However, let me play devil's advocate. How long would you have liked? Have you checked if the car is still for sale? If it is sold, there were almost certainly other interested buyers. It could be argued that the dealer could not remove the car from the market and potentially risk losing a sale.

Sorry to say it, but that's one potential commercial reality from a dealer's perspective. If the car is still for sale, then the dealer's gamble hasn't paid off. That's business, too.

Don't worry about letting it go either. There are loads of fresh Golfs on the market. You won't struggle to find an even better one. Use this experience to your advantage and have your sums done in advance.

The more assertive you can be, the more control you can take, and perhaps you can do an even better deal.

Eddie: Two sides to every story, Aidan, but in this case I think there was a smidgen too much pressure applied. There is a way of doing things and you, dear reader, could have been told more appropriately of the deadline.

I appreciate the case Aidan is expertly making - business is business. I don't think it is something that happens too often but I'd personally walk away. I'd sooner be sorry for not buying than buying in a hurry. Too much at stake.

By the way, you will find plenty of fresh Golfs, and you did the right thing by not buying.


I'm thinking of upgrading my second car in the summer. I currently drive a 2012 Honda Civic 2.2 D ES with 120k, which I love, but with changing weather and an expanding family, I think that now is the right time to consider changing.

We have two children, both in Isofix seats, and as the primary car is a 2016 Passat we are sorted for most family journeys

I was considering an SUV, maybe a Qashqai or a Suzuki Vitara. 4x4 not essential but we do have family in the country and I think it could be worth considering.

The annual mileage for me is about 15km and the budget would be my own car plus €15k (flexible). Any thoughts on what you might do in this situation?

Aidan: Your requirements are not onerous, so you can go anywhere with this budget. The Honda HR-V is probably your best bet from a cost-to-change perspective.

Look for a 2017-plate ES model. It might require some hard-nosed bargaining but give it a shot. You don't mention the profile of your driving but perhaps a 1.5-litre petrol model will suit you. Consider it.

The same goes for the Qashqai with the 1.2-litre engine. SV models are preferred.

The market isn't shy of Renault Kadjars, so look for a Dynamique Nav model with the 1.5 dCi engine if diesel is still your mainstay.

Lastly, if your flexible €15,000 budget is elastic enough, then look for a Peugeot 3008-SUV with the Grip Control feature. It's a great car without it but the fancy traction control system is very impressive.

Eddie: The SUV world is your oyster and there are plenty of options out there.

The Qashqai is a big seller - so is the Hyundai Tucson - so there should be plenty of fresh models around.

There is no beating the luxury of having plenty of choice. On your mileage, I'm going to say the 1.2-litre petrol Qashqai.


I am looking to upgrade to a new family car. I do short runs, under 10,000km a year. Looking for a car that can fit two children (in seats) and an adult occasionally in the back. I dislike SUVs and MPVs, so I want to avoid them. Also must have a decent-sized boot. Budget is €15k and petrol looks the best bet. Current car is a 3dr 05 Ford Focus petrol

Aidan: Pinning my colours to the mast with this one - a Toyota Prius. The perfect car for you.

Buy a 2013 model from a Toyota dealer, keep it regularly serviced and Toyota will give you free hybrid battery health checks until the car is 10 years old. Brilliant car and peace of mind from a sound investment.

Eddie: Two words: Toyota Prius.


My daughter is returning from England in June to take up a new career. She is selling her old Golf over there and is planning on buying a new car. She is 30, single and wants something smart. She will have a budget equivalent of €30,000 between trade-in, savings and a loan. Should she buy in England or Ireland? And what should she buy?

Aidan: I think another Golf is the way to go. It's versatile, sleek and won't break the bank. Go for a Highline model. She will have change from her €30,000, too. Buy one here.

If she doesn't want a new car, then she can choose from some excellent fresh used models on 2017 plates. There are loads around and prices are moderated by several factors.

If she wants something with a premium badge, then look at the BMW 1-Series or a used BMW X1. Nice machines with lovely interiors. Automatics would be even nicer.

Eddie: The penny-pinching part of me says buy cheap in the UK, drive for a while and then bring back, but looking at your daughter's schedule I think it would get messy quite quickly.

So, sell her existing car over there, rent a car for a month here when she comes back (she can use yours maybe?) and buy either another Golf or maybe a Volkswagen T-Roc compact SUV - really smart car.

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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