Thursday 22 February 2018

Waiting for more Corollas? Executive downsizing. Poor show by sales folk?

Confront the sales person or manager if you feel you are being given the cold shoulder.
Confront the sales person or manager if you feel you are being given the cold shoulder.

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 total budget of €7/8000; Annual mileage 17,000 miles. Size of car required: mid-size 4/5 - usually just myself as driver on board. Present car: Toyota Corolla saloon petrol/ year 2000/ 200,000 miles. I have owned it for eight years. Barely got it through the NCT recently as the emissions were not brilliant. I am considering getting a diesel upgrade. My intention is keep next car for eight years to 200,000km.

So far I have considered an imported older Honda Accord 2008, total cost including VRT €7.5k; 2006 imported 1.4D4D Corolla with 55,000 miles - total cost VRT €6k and 2008 Corolla 1.4D4D. Should I postpone upgrade till 2017 when there should be 2009/10 Corolla diesels as it appears that 2008 versions with low mileage are scarce?

Aidan: I will answer your questions in no particular order. First, should you hold off buying now until 2017 when there might be more 2009/2010 models coming back to the market? I can't categorically assert that next year will herald greater availability of low mileage 2009/2010 Corollas. The first hurdle is the low mileage part. It is true that a lot of predominantly petrol drivers switched to diesel in 2009/2010 (and beyond) and so one might expect some stock returning from that pool of buyers. But that would mean that the cars were kept for 7 or 8 years by the one, low-mileage owner.

That's probably not a realistic expectation. The second unknown is how the new car market will perform next year and what the likely profile of trade-ins will be.

However, it's all a little irrelevant just yet because your present car passed its NCT. So, why not drive it until its expiry date next year? That's as good a reason as any to wait. As for upgrading and keeping the car until it's virtually worthless; that is one way of offsetting depreciation.

You, and many others like you, view cars as appliances. They serve a purpose, cost a measurable amount, and when they fall apart; you simply move onto the next one. It's a bit like a kettle. It's not everyone's cup of tea but it sure can be cost effective. I say 'can be' because there is always an element of risk with used cars and particularly with older ones. As for your choices; I am intrigued that you are looking across the water. I won't go into the pros and cons of it all here but just be careful, won't you?

Regardless of where you choose to buy, I think the Corolla 1.4 D4D is the right choice for you. The engine and other ancillaries are solid, cheap to maintain, and should return very cost efficient motoring. However, I wouldn't be so quick to write off German diesels because of the potential cost of replacing a timing belt. Take a look at the Skoda Octavia (German parts but technically Czech). It is definitely worth considering.

Eddie: At 17,000 a year you are into diesel territory definitely. Secondly, your car is going well. Hold onto it until next March/April when there will be a decent selection of used cars beginning to cost dealers money after taking them as trade-ins against new models. Then look out for a good Toyota Auris 1.4-litre diesel hatch or Corolla saloon. I'd have no problems going for a KIA cee'd station wagon either or a Skoda Octavia. I'd suggest a look at a diesel Peugeot 308 or Ford Focus too but I feel you want a Corolla/Auris. You have plenty of time to keep an eye out for a bargain. In the meantime make sure you keep your own car in top nick for your own safety.

What should I do with a 10-year-old BMW 7-series? I bought it as a three-year-old secondhand and now wish to buy a smaller executive car such as a Mercedes C-Class. The 7-series is heavy on petrol and has 120,000km on the clock. Should I sell privately? I have a €40,000 budget to buy a new or a fresh C-Class. Or should I think BMW or Audi as well?

Aidan: Try to sell the 7-series privately if you can but you have to manage your expectations for a low ball trade-in allowance (and therefore higher cost to change) if you want to use it as equity in a deal for a C-Class; or anything else for that matter.

There is virtually no market for a 10-year old petrol 7-Series in this country. That does not mean that you won't find a buyer, but if and when you do, you will have found the only one. Sorry.

Now, your budget of €40,000 is a much happier story. Get yourself into a Mercedes-Benz showroom with it and see if it puts you into 151 or 152 C200 Avantgarde automatic. Notice that I said C200 and not C200 CDi. The odometer reading on your 7 Series suggests to me that you cover small mileage, and so you probably don't need a diesel car. I think you might find a C180 to be too underpowered, so go for the bigger engine in the C200. Of course, you will have more choice if you opt for a diesel car and especially with BMW and Audi, but they also do lovely petrol engines, too. They are just a bit rarer.

So, what about a Lexus IS300h? Don't let that pass you by. It could well be the package for you as it's got a hefty amount of torque, loads of comfort, looks great, and it is a hybrid and so it is an automatic. Not many people track the sorts of things I do, but I can tell you that the IS300h's price list and specification combo have been thoroughly worked over. You get a lot of kit for your money in one nowadays.

If you want to stay with the German brands then the Audi A4 is a brand new model for 2016. The last of the outgoing models came with a heap of extras and makes a great buy on the used market. The 3-series is always a sensible choice so I think you need to take a day and drive them all. Only then will you really know what will work best for you.

Eddie: Brilliant summary there from Aidan so to avoid repeating the advice let me take you outside the box a little. Sell your 7-series for whatever you can get and see if you can't pick yourself up a new, stress new, Jaguar XE sports saloon. It's a nice car - it wins and loses on some areas against the ones Aidan has mentioned. Prices start at €38,000 approx but you will probably have to go to €41,000/€42,000 to get into a decent Prestige trim version. Get yourself a nice bright interior (some of the material colours are dull) and you have a decent car.

Not saying a word against the others but this is an option and it's a Jag.

I am 40 years buying new cars. I do my homework and I have had a big range of different makes over the years. But I have been taken aback by the complacency of some dealerships these past 12 months. A few salesmen have disappointed in their approach and how they dealt with my queries. Is it just because I ask a lot of questions and don't sign up there and then?

Aidan: I hope you can appreciate that this is a pretty loaded question. If I agree with you then I totally ignore the good work done by many dealers (a lot of them very close contacts, I must openly admit), who could readily point to glowing testimonials from long-time and first-time customers. If I categorically disagree with you, I wouldn't be entirely right either.

Eddie and I have received questions in this vein on a couple of occasions so I can't ignore that these incidents happen. The best advice I can offer is for you to confront the sales person or sales manager when you feel you are being given the cold shoulder. Tell them upfront: "I'm not the kind of person who makes a decision overnight. I'm going to ask you loads of questions. So, if you want my business, you are just going to have to put up with it and we might come to a good arrangement where we are both happy". Or words to that effect. I doubt the problem is systematic or widespread. I know far too many dealers and their staff personally to really believe that.

Eddie: I've got a few complaints of late but I must stress they are in absolute minorities. Yet, only this past week I heard of salesperson not even keeping an appointment with a client. Nor did he bother to notify or apologise. That is unacceptable and is unfair to the 99.99pc of true professionals - and to his own business. I wouldn't take that sort of treatment and I would complain to senior management, officially, before walking out and going somewhere my custom is appreciated. In your case salespeople should be prepared to answer any question you raise no matter how long it takes.


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).

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