Sunday 18 March 2018

What dream car for €80,000? Is €20,000 the limit? Best double-role car?

Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car
Our simple advice could help you make the right choice when buying your next car

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'm looking for something powerful and sporty for around €70,000. I've taken early retirement. I was always provided with a large, prestige saloon. But I'm single, 60-years-old, have no major outgoings and have never had the chance to drive a performance car. What would you advise?

Aidan: Ordinarily, I would advise someone with your budget to purchase a brand new car but there are some seriously impressive machines that depreciate by just enough in their first 12 to 24 months worthy of your attention.

Be careful going for something geared too much towards the sporty end of the scale. An Audi S5 would fit your budget perfectly, but it is a focused performance car and, in my experience, the idea of owning such a car can sometimes be better than the reality of owning it.

So, here are some used, big, comfortable but fast cruisers. I think this is where you will have most joy. First up, a BMW 640d 2dr coupe. It's got a magnificent 6cyl, 3-litre diesel engine with huge performance figures. I have specifically picked the 2dr coupe instead of the 5dr Gran Coupe because I think the shape of the car suits the 2dr version better. Motor tax is just €390 and the lavishness of the interior is rarely bettered.

Take a Mercedes CLS 220 and 250 for a spin and see how they fare. If you want more poke, go for the CLS 350. It has a three litre V6 where the others have a 4cyl 2.2-litre albeit with different power outputs. There is something about the interior quality of a Merc that just feels right.

By the time you dress up a CLS350, you will be hovering around the €80,000 mark. Perhaps find an ex-demo or a one-year-old to bring the cost down.

Audi's A7 is next on the list. From personal experience, the 3.0 TDi Quattro 272bhp is the one to go for. Ask about the new SE Business trim level. It is a little less striking than the S Line trim and suits some buyers' eyes better. Again, you'll need mid-70s to buy one unless you find a demo.

You could look for a clean, freshly used Porsche Cayman or even a Macan S but I reckon the 6 Series, CLS or the A7 will do enough to sway you.

Eddie: I've no problem coming down heavily on one model here: the Audi A7. As far as I'm concerned it is the one car out there that, if I had the money and the wish, I'd buy.

The other option is to buy a second-hand Ferrari California. You might have to go back the years a bit but the looks, name and performance would meet a lot of your criteria.

Am I wrong in thinking I won't be able to buy a new car for less than €20,000? I mean a car like a Focus or Corolla. My preference would be for something like a hatchback because I need to be able to fold the back seats. But I don't see much on the market for under €20,000. What should I do? My trade-in is a 01 Honda Civic. Would I be better giving it to my brother-in-law?

Aidan: Your brother-in-law might not like this, but if you act fast there are some scrappage deals you can avail of. Nissan and Peugeot spring to mind. That brings in the Pulsar and 308 respectively. Have a chat with your local dealers because the terms and conditions can hide some deal-making or breaking stuff. Strictly speaking, there are a couple of family hatchbacks for under €20,000.

A 1.2 petrol Renault Megane comes in under this budget and the petrol engine is a lovely motor. A petrol SEAT Leon just about sneaks into this price range, too. But what about an ex-demo or a hire drive? There will be a whole horde of cars returning this September that were on the rental market for the last three to six months. You will get a virtually new car at a discounted cost.

True, hire drives do not suit everyone. Some can have saucy mileage figures and then there are those people who do not like the idea of owning a car that has been driven by a load of strangers. However, you still get the remainder of the manufacturer warranty not to mention the fact the cars are fully serviced and properly checked over before delivery. Plus, the initial brunt of the depreciation has already been borne by the rental company.

Now is the time to talk to as many dealers as possible. They still have a few new units that they would love to shift, so you might get a great deal. If nothing comes from your enquiries then log your interest in a hire drive early and you could be treated to the pick of the bunch. The low mileage, well decked-out ones generally go first.

Eddie: You are correct. There are lots of cars with entry-level pries starting just under the €20,000 mark but when you add delivery and related charges as well as picking any sort of decent spec level you are up to €23,000/€24,000. So let's think outside the box.

Would you consider putting some of that money to other use and taking out a Personal Contract Plan (PCP) - a lease agreement effectively. I'd say €5,000 of a deposit would leave you in a strong position and after that it would be a matter of how much you want to pay each month. That would give you a little elasticity on the level of car you buy.

I'm reluctant to guide you towards a PCP but if your money can pay off some other debt, it might be worth considering. Still outside the box... does it have to be a hatchback? Would you buy a small family Crossover? If you would, think Dacia Duster. You'll have change left over.

Some time back one of ye wrote about a pickup. I think it was a Mitsubishi. I remember thinking it would suit me and my family (two small children) because I run a small business and I like the idea of one car doing the two jobs for me. What should I look at and what will it cost?

Aidan: It was probably the brand new L200. It has Mitsubishi's new 2.4 diesel engine which is supposed to be a fair bit more refined than the old 2.5.

Pickup double cabs have a rear row of seats so they make great do-it-all family/work vehicles. Don't get a shock when the final price ends up more than advertised (around €33,000). By the time you add a canopy to protect the loading bay behind you, and maybe a hard-wearing coating for the loading area itself; the end package will cost more.

The L200 has a good reputation in general and I never have an issue recommending one. The Toyota Hi-Lux is generally considered to be the one to beat. It's a bit more expensive but holds its value tremendously well and there is almost always a queue of people lining up to buy good used ones; especially if they didn't have a hard life towing horse boxes or dragging around fields.

I prefer the 3-litre engine that costs €36,995 but you can save €2,000 by dropping back to the 2.5-litre. It will be plenty of car for you so I reckon you should go this route. The entry grade DLX isn't the most generously appointed so go for the SR5.

The VW Amarok drives more like a big SUV than a tough off-road, SUV-commercial. It's expensive new but there should be a few 131 plates knocking about. Find one with the lovely DSG gearbox with 180bhp then snap it up.

If you have around €40,000 and don't mind buying a used car, then go for the Land Rover Discovery 4 five-seater commercial in XE trim. It's essentially an SUV with an N1 vehicle classification which means it qualifies for commercial tax. It's luxurious but spacious enough to carry plenty of goods.

Eddie: I've driven the new Mitsubishi L200 and it is a big improvement. There is perceptibly more space in the cabin, which is important from your perspective given you want it for two roles.

Along with the others Aidan has outlined take a look at the Ford Ranger which has become one of the big sellers. It is a bit larger than the L200 but popular. And many people reckon the Nissan Navara is the one to have. It's among the best to drive on the road.

Irish Independent

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