Sunday 17 December 2017

Two small cars, one new baby: what to buy?; Special treat for his Big Birthday

Car seats can be a challenge in certain cars.
Car seats can be a challenge in certain cars.

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 have a lovely, mint (2004) 1.8 petrol Audi TT (90,000 miles). I also have a brand new bouncing baby boy and a wife who has been trying for a while to get me to trade it in for a more practical, family-friendly runabout. I resisted for a long time, researching and acquiring the only newborn child seats that would even fit into the  TT.

But, I confess, I am a broken man. I can get the baby in. And the wife. But after that, there wouldn't be room for a cheese and ham sandwich. My wife has a 10-year-old, equally impractical, VW Beetle cabriolet (95,000 miles). So we have the combined value of the two. Plus about €10,000 I had stashed away for a rainy day.

Any advice?

Aidan: Test a dealer with your two trade-ins but you will be probably have better joy selling them on the private market.

If you decide to go the latter route, take plenty of photos, valet both cars, and advertise them at sensible prices to garner interest. You can dig your heels in when the time comes to talk real money.

Be vigilant when it comes to collecting payment. Cash is the usual currency but bring a buddy with you for safety. Most transactions run smoothly but you can't be too careful. All told, I reckon you will end up with around €17,000. The next question is, can you do with just one car between the two of you? I don't think it's a good idea. It's always useful to have a second car. I'm also going to make a not-too-wild assumption that neither of you cover much mileage considering what's currently in your driveway.

So, firstly, stay with petrol. I think it would be better to own your cars outright now but keep a few quid aside to build up another rainy day fund for when/if more children come along and you need an MPV/estate. Then one of you can go the PCP route.

For now, use the lion's share of the money for a practical, petrol family hatchback. Something like a 2010 1.33 Toyota Auris or Honda Civic 1.4 or even a 1.8 if you don't mind paying the extra motor tax.

Use the rest of the money to buy a SEAT Ibiza. Your money goes further in the SEAT brand but it's still a cracking product. If/when more children arrive on the scene, get rid of the Ibiza and use the money from its sale and the few quid you have put aside to go the finance route on a bigger, newer family car.

You are at the point in your life when car ownership is like a game of chess. You've got to keep thinking one or two moves ahead.

Come back to us when you are in the throes of a mid-life crisis and we'll steer you back into a sports car.

Until then, future proof your car needs by buying practical family wagons.

Eddie: Aidan makes absolutely valid points - and has expertly plotted out your motoring needs for years - but I'm going to slightly go against one element of his advice.

He is correct to deduce, I think, that neither of you drive that much. So I'm going to suggest you buy yourself a bicycle and let her good self, mostly, have the new car. That way you save on a lot of outgoings: tax, insurance, wear-and-tear. And the car I'm thinking of is an Opel/Vauxhall Meriva with its unique side doors, excellent interior and boot space and general all-round ease of handling.

My husband is approaching a 'Big Birthday' and I wanted to treat him to something special. Our Audi A6 is coming up to trade-in time (three years) and I think we might change to something smaller and more sporty. He loves his cars. His budget would be €30,000 including the trade-in but I can muster another €10,000 so it is a really special buy. I would really love to hear your advice on what I should look at. It is all a bit cloak and dagger but I know he would be thrilled. Really enjoy this column every week.

Aidan: So, we're dealing with a budget of around €40,000. First off, a small word of warning. You need to be extra vigilant when downsizing. The allure of compact sports cars often masks the reality of their impracticalities and especially so when you are changing from an executive saloon. It is like moving into a two-bed apartment from a four-bed semi. Nonetheless, here is a broad overview of what's out there and perhaps Eddie will use his wisdom to focus your attention in one particular direction or another.

The Audi TT is a fine example of a modern sports car. Apart from looking great, it is an engaging drive. The latest model comes into the fray at this price. Look for early registered 142-plate vehicles. The BMW 2 Series Coupé is another good choice. Your budget will extend far enough for a brand new 2016 model. Is diesel essential? If not, then opt for the 218i Luxury Auto model. It has a zippy little 1.5 litre engine. Diesel variants attract a €2,000 premium.

What about a brand new MINI Cooper S 5dr hatchback? You could dress one up with all of the latest gadgetry and the newest model is a refined machine. Then there is the VW Golf GTi with the great DSG automatic transmission. The GTi is iconic and I reckon does nearly everything. It looks sharp, is practical, handles brilliantly, is frugal in town, but has a wicked turn of pace to enthral the driver.

On the used market you are faced with an Audi A5. It's more similarly sized to what your husband is used to. A 5dr Sportback (hatchback) version looks sporty but retains A6 levels of practicality. Look for S-Line models. They are the best equipped. The BMW 4 Series is just out of budget.

Funny as it might seem, I reckon the MINI Cooper S, the GTi and the A5 are probably the best options from that lot.

Eddie: If you are going to push the boat out I would think seriously about the Audi TT. My only concern would be that you would miss the room and you need space for the golf bags. Which is why I would favour the BMW 4-series. You may not be able to stretch to a brand new one but you'll not be far off. It is a lovely piece of work and worth stepping back six months or a year (142/151) to pick one up.

He'll be thrilled. Happy times.

How do I know what my car is emitting? Every week Eddie is criticising car makers for exaggerating the miles per gallon (and therefore the emissions) of cars. I have a Volkswagen Golf, 2012, and it does around 40mpg. I'm happy with that because there is a fair bit of suburban driving. So why can't Volkswagen, and others of course, give us these 'real-world' figures and get on with it? People don't believe the mad figures on the brochures. Should I change to another Golf or will I wait for the scandal to blow over?

Aidan: There is change afoot. I recently received word from Peugeot that it will begin measuring real-world fuel efficiency figures from spring next year.

The process will involve driving new models around Paris in various traffic conditions. The results will be independently monitored and audited.

It is part of a more transparent system for publicising fuel efficiency data but it is quite a departure from what is presently required of manufacturers. Perhaps others will follow suit.

As for your Golf, I personally don't see any reason to jump ship. I don't want to sound flippant or dismissive of the present circumstances but you say that you are happy with your fuel efficiency figures and you obviously like the Golf if you are considering another one.

If you can thrash out a deal that you are happy with for a new Golf then this is the path with the least resistance. Why make your life more difficult?

Eddie: I won't comment on the MPG because I'm blue in the face from it every week as you outline.

You sound to me like you need re-endorsement of your car choice. Other hills are always greener.

So why don't you take your car to a couple of dealerships, such as Toyota (Auris), Ford (Focus), Peugeot (308), Honda (Civic), etc, and see what sort of a deal they'll offer you.

You will discover that your Golf is highly prized as a trade-in because they will always have someone delighted to buy it second-hand.

Maybe you will decide to change - or not. But you need to sample the market or you'll drive yourself mad.

Indo Motoring

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