Sunday 19 November 2017

What car to take four children? Superb or KODIAQ? SUV for comfort?

Many factors have to be considered when buying a family car
Many factors have to be considered when buying a family car

Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car.

My wife and I are expecting our third child in a few months which means we need to move on from our current car, a Volkswagen Passat, as it will not fit us all. We will have three under 3 years old this year and hope to have one more. Could you please give us an idea of what cars we could look at buying based on an assumption of four young children? Do we need a car with 3/4 Isofixes for child seats? When can children move into booster seats? Any relevant information would be greatly appreciated.

Aidan: Let's dispense with the legalities and recommendations of the booster seat first. It all depends on the age and/or weight of the child so there are no strict criteria.

The Road Safety Authority's website is an excellent source of information for such matters but to condense the recommendations here: a child can enter into a forward facing car seat as soon as they weigh more than 9kg, which the RSA estimates as being around 9 months old. The booster seat is recommended for children between 15kg and 25kg. After that, a booster cushion is recommended all the way up to when the child is around 12, or around 36kgs.

As for the car, I think the Volkswagen Touran people carrier is ideal. Unique to the Touran is its five ISOFIX points. All of the rear seats are individual and there is a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of their arrangements. Slide, tilt, fold: you name it and they do it. It's also a relatively new model (launched last year) so you can get the latest tech and safety equipment. Don't underestimate the latter. You don't provide a budget or your mileage. I encourage you to buy new or an ex-demo if at all possible. It sounds like you will put the family car to great use and so owning something in warranty could pay dividends.

You also have a Passat, so you are familiar with the brand and perhaps have a contact in a VW dealership already. Go there first and see what you can do. I don't see the need to offer alternatives. The Touran has what you want.

Eddie: Do visit the RSA site on child seats; it is excellent. And important. Two other possible cars for you could be the Citroen Grand Picasso and new Renault Grand Scenic, both seven-seaters with three Isofixes on the second row.

The Ford S-MAX is another, as is the SEAT Alhambra, but it may be a little large for you at this stage. My advice is to buy as new as you can and to factor in your next change to a larger MPV in three years because your family will have grown in more ways than one by then. For now, though, the Touran is probably the pick of the bunch. Best of luck.

My budget is about €22,000; my mileage is averaging 14,500km a year, including long trips on holidays around Ireland and the UK. Currently I am driving at 12-reg Skoda Superb Combi top of the range 2-litre DSG. I volunteer with animal rescue and have had occasion to carry traps and dog cages so the large boot space was vital. So is the automatic transmission because of my back problems. I had seriously considered the idea of changing this year but my only dilemma is the new Skoda KODIAQ is about to come out in March. I don't need an SUV per se but I do like the idea of the height and better view of the road. If you had to choose would you wait for the KODIAQ? At the moment there is 0pc PCP on the Superb until the end of the month which is something I could consider instead of lashing out the entire amount of my budget.

Aidan: Sorry to make the assumption that your budget of €22,000 does not include trading in your Superb, but I don't think you would be considering a new KODIAQ if you didn't have something else supporting your budget. Your decision depends on your eagerness to change now.

The new Superb is readily available and the 190bhp version with the DSG gearbox is a delight. You won't regret buying another Superb, that's for certain. Some of the finer details of the KODIAQ, including prices and precise specifications available at launch, are yet to be finalised.

However, irrespective of your choice, you should start lodging your enquiries with your Skoda dealer right now. All of the indicators are pointing to it being a success but time will tell.

However, if those indicators are accurate, then it stands to reason (all things being equal) that its residual values will be strong.

When we consider a "cost of vehicle ownership" metric, depreciation stands as the biggest contributor. Ask someone who changed an Octavia, a Hyundai ix35, or an Audi Q5 in the last couple of years about how nice it is to own one of the sought-after products on the market.

Costs to change for most brands have been attractive and values on the used market have been strong but these models really fought depreciation in an impressive way. There is no guarantee that the KODIAQ will be the same but the signs are promising.

Tough call but I think you are in the enviable position where no matter what you choose, you will have a great machine. Me? I'd wait for the KODIAQ.

Eddie: I've driven the KODIAQ. It's fine, big, roomy and smart and all that but for you and your back problems I think the seats could swing the deal. I drove it 1,200km in December and suffered no lumbar consequences. I think the five-seater version will cost under the €30,000 mark.

However, the top-of-range trim to which you have grown accustomed in your Superb will be a lot more. I don't know if your budget will stretch to that.

The Superb is aptly named but the KODIAQ gives you a lot more flexibility. If the budget stretches, hold for the SUV. If it doesn't buy the Superb. Do your maths now.

I am driving a Ford Focus Titanium saloon, 141-reg. I have driven Fords without a break since 1975. I am toying with the idea of changing to a new SUV. I haven't driven any of them; maybe a short test drive in a Skoda Yeti some time ago. The ones I had in mind are the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Skoda Yeti and the Ford Kuga. I am not a man for very high spec. Is it advisable to go for the 2-litre engine and 18ins wheels? My wife and I are looking for comfort now, especially entering and exiting motor vehicles.

Aidan: The 2-litre diesel Sportage and Tucson are only available with four-wheel-drive, which you certainly do not need.

Don't pay the premium for it if it will be redundant. The 1.7-litre in each instance is absolutely fine and you can still upgrade the alloys if you wish, but that is a matter of taste.

The Tucson was the best selling car last year. On the strength of that fact alone, it is obviously worth considering.

However, there is a new Kuga out now and there are some good deals. It now comes with a 1.5-litre diesel engine with 120bhp (which many old models had from the 2.0 litre diesel engine anyway).

If you want, the price walk to a 2WD 150bhp model is around €2,600. Again, I reckon the 1.5 diesel will be ample for you. You are obviously happy with Ford and I suspect that they are equally happy with having you as a customer. See what deal you can do on a new Kuga.

The only thing to consider is the size difference between the Kuga and the Tucson. The Kuga is a bit bigger. You said that you will thoroughly test drive your short-list, and I encourage you to do so and determine in which model you feel most comfortable. As for not being a man for high spec; you drive a Titanium Focus.

There is no such thing as a bad-spec new car nowadays. Base level specification is still far more generous than before. If you opt for a Kuga, stick with Titanium.

If you decide on the Tucson, then I think the Executive is best but be sure to go for a 'Comfort Plus' model at a minimum.

Eddie: I'm not a mad fan of the Kuga for some reason. It was recently facelifted and is a really decent drive. But I like the KIA Sportage and I have to acknowledge the Hyundai Tucson is a tempting prospect. However, I suspect you will get the best cost-to-change deal with the Kuga because it, like your Focus, is a Ford and you've been such a loyal customer for so long.

But if you were to really press me, I'd tell you my instinct for you is to look at the Sportage.


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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