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 currently looking to replace my 2007 BMW 325i Sport (134,000km). Need a diesel due to increased commute, 25,000km/year. Total budget (including trade-in €30,000). Would like a saloon, front wheel drive (BMW was useless in snow) with at least 150bhp. Considering A3 saloon 2.0 TDI or Skoda Octavia VRS 184bhp. Thoughts on those or other options?
Aidan: The 2-litre diesel A3 saloon is a good choice. The manual transmission has short and compact throws between the gears but I prefer the S-Tronic gearbox; worth considering. They are rare, though. The S-Line trim level is more in keeping with what you are used to in your BMW 325i Sport, and your budget is generous enough to hold out for one with spec.
The A3's residuals are strong and the saloon holds most of its initial €1,000 new-cost premium. There should be some low mileage, well kitted 2-litres with 151/152 plates on or under budget.
The Octavia RS is a great machine. I'd go with automatic. If manual transmission is okay for you, you can get a 161/162 model. However, there is a revised Octavia out and your budget will go close to getting a new 2-litre 150bhp Ambition model with the DSG gearbox. The Mazda6 merits another recommendation here. It's powerful, well kitted (in Platinum spec) and front-wheel-drive; €30,000 buys a fresh one.
Eddie: It's a long way from an A3 saloon to an Octavia VRS 184bhp for room, size and performance so I'm going to suggest something to bridge the divide. Try to get your hands on a nice Volkswagen CC 4dr coupe. It's a Passat coupe that cost too much new but you should get a fine 15-reg for your budget. Underrated, stylish and scarce (unfortunately). My other suggestion is you slip back a year or two and buy a 2.2-litre diesel Jaguar XF. Lovely car, loads of performance; brand new one recently so you should get a late 132/early 141-reg.
Our main car is a 2007 Octavia Elegance 1.9TDi with 314,000km. We do 30,000km/year. A lot of short journeys during the week; long ones at weekends. The car has cost up on €1,000 in the last four months on repairs so needs to go. We have twin baby boys so boot space is a must.
Budget is €30,000 max. Would love an SUV but don't want to buy more than one-year-old. Would like a light interior which is quite hard to find. Best deal I can get is new Octavia Style 1.0TSi or 1.6TDi for €2,000 discount or €3,500 using old Octavia as scrappage. Since we've owned this car for 10 years, would like to look at something other than Skoda.
Aidan: Don't buy a petrol car. You are a diesel mileage driver. If you want an SUV, another Octavia won't suffice. Hyundai's prevailing €4,000 scrappage offer brings the Tucson in Executive spec into the equation.
The deal runs out almost immediately but these things can sometimes be extended or reintroduced for the July-plate, so get on to your local dealer immediately. With the scrappage offer, the overall Tucson package in terms of warranty, spec, comfort, space, and styling is hard to fault. The Kia Sportage is also worth a look. A new Platinum model is out of reach but perhaps there is an ex-demonstrator EX model (precursor to Platinum) to be found. Ask your dealer.
With the prevailing offers on the Ford Kuga, you might just squeeze into the new 1.5 TDCi model. Loads of space, good trim level if you can nab a Titanium+. You can certainly get an older shape 162-plate 2-litre and have some cash to spare. It might stretch the budget to its limit but look for a 16-plate Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC ES; 151s are achievable but check if a 161 can be had without stretching financially.
Eddie: The obvious one is the Nissan Qashqai which is less SUV-looking than the ones Aidan, expertly, suggests. You'll get a nice SV trim 161/162 and have a few euro to spare. Good boot space and they tend to have light-coloured but hard-wearing interiors.
I have a Toyota Corolla 1.4 diesel, 2011 (and 130,000km); annual travel is 20,000km. I like the Corolla, have no issues with it, but would I be better off trading it in now or drive it for another few years? What is the best time in a car's life to trade-in before the value seriously decrements?
Aidan: Let's use Cheltenham as an analogy for depreciation. Once out of the gate, the fresh, new car loses its value quicker than it does in the middle section (say between age 3 and 5). And towards the end of the race, just as the horse slows, the depreciation on a car slows too. Depending on the car, the initial drop can be bigger or smaller than average. And just because the first drop might be large, it doesn't mean it will sustain that rate throughout its life. Some models don't find their stride until they are a few years old, at which point depreciation slows down.
Your car is sought after. It has lost a good chunk of its value but retains enough to give you a positive deposit on an upgrade.
Once your car ages further and/or covers more kilometres, it will lose money commensurate to that age/mileage ratio. Best thing to do is to price around for a change now and see if it makes financial sense for you. If so, move. If not, move next year but at this point you should be regularly testing the market.
Eddie: You could drive it for as long as it gives you trouble-free motoring because I don't think you'll get that much for it on a trade-in after this year due to the mileage. The Corolla's form is good and worth an each-way bet to keep going. But an each-way bet isn't good enough on 20,000km a year. I'd change - for a newer Corolla. I'd feel you'd be happier doing so too. Definitely change.
We are now both retired and, with travel passes, are debating the need for two cars. Our line-up is: Toyota Yaris 07, 103,000kms, petrol; Mazda3 Sport 2010, 110,000 kms, diesel. Both cars are in good nick. Have estimated annual mileage at 10,000km, mostly local country driving with occasional long runs.
While we will miss the independence of having two cars, the expense of running both doesn't make sense. We would like a bit of power and could go either petrol or diesel, with boot space and maybe higher seating, though not a must. Our budget outside of trade-in wouldn't be very high, maybe €5,000. Your suggestions would be much appreciated.
Aidan: Consider doing nothing. Sometimes that is the right thing to do. It shouldn't cost a fortune to run both cars if your mileage is being slashed. Each car has its merits and they should be good for another while yet.
If you are a firm on moving, then trade both cars in for a Toyota Auris. It might even be worth trying to find a Mazda dealer with a 151 (or thereabouts) 1.33-litre petrol Auris and leveraging the newer, more valuable Mazda3 against it. The Yaris is universally liked in the trade so you might fare better this way. However, check with your local Toyota dealer too. Like the horse analogy in the previous question, I'm each-way betting on doing nothing or going for an Auris.
Eddie: Sell the Yaris privately because it is older and see how you get on for six months with just the Mazda. That will help you see if the one-car strategy suits.
A. If it doesn't, use the €5,000 you have plus whatever you get for the traded-in car to buy a newer Yaris (I always considered it to have higher seating). Result: two cars.
B. If it does suit, take your remaining car, the Mazda, to a few dealers. See if you can buy a newer Toyota Auris or a KIA cee'd when you add the Mazda's worth to what you get for the old Yaris and the €5,000 you have to spend. Result: One much newer car.
I drive a 2011 Skoda Superb diesel, fully specced (142,000km) and annual mileage of 39,000km. I have €17,000 plus trade-in. Ideally, I'd like a slightly smaller pre-used saloon or coupe (4-seats) with extras. I am mulling over a Ford Focus ST, Skoda Octavia RS, Golf Gti, Mercedes C-Class coupe. Your views and suggestions?
Aidan: I think the Octavia RS might be good for you. Sticking with the same brand should help with your cost-to-change, too. Your budget won't buy you as fresh a C-Class Coupe as I think you will need. The GTi is a no-no but the GTD is a runner. The Octavia is bigger than the Golf and Focus so that keeps it at number one spot on this list. Look out for a VW CC (Passat CC). They are almost always well kitted and your budget will go a some way to buying a 15-plate model.
Eddie: Don't touch the Mercedes Coupe. It was a poor offering. You'll sorely miss the space in the Superb. You have big mileage, nearly 40,000km. I don't know where you'd be going with a Focus ST or Golf Gti. I'd be inclined to put you in a Volvo V40 2-litre diesel (132-reg) but it might not be sporty enough. The Golf GTD is a good option. You wouldn't go Superb again, no?