Sunday 19 November 2017

What will give us more space? Changing two? My wife wants a Merc

Couple with new SUV
Couple with new SUV

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

We have a 2004 Audi A4 1.9 TDi (130 bhp) and drive about 20,000km a year, mostly travelling on motorways between east and the West of Ireland with a full boot and possible back-seat filled too. There are 200,000 miles on the clock and we are looking to change for an SUV to have more space. Our budget is about €45,000. We were looking at a second hand Audi Q5 or possibly the new Skoda Kodiaq. We don't need a 7-seater. We do pull a car trailer about twice a year so would need something that can comfortably cope with that. Is there an SUV you could recommend?

Aidan: The Kodiaq is certainly creating a stir. By all means go and test one because it seems as though the numbers stack up for you. You have the budget to opt for the range topping 2.0 TDi Style 190 DSG 4x4 model. In addition to Ambition trim it comes with 19ins alloys, full LEDs, leather/alcantara interior, rear view camera, and a smattering of other goodies. In fairness, the 150bhp DSG two-wheel-drive Ambition model probably meets most buyers' needs and you will exit the deal with some money in your pocket. I'm as avid a reader of Eddie's reviews as everyone else and I recall he was a big fan of the manual transmission. The Kodiaq has a braked towing capacity of 2300Kgs. Make sure you know the legalities surrounding towing trailers.

A used Q5 sounds nice, too. Availability should free up this year considering the new one has just arrived. The 150bhp quattro model is a great machine and is probably all the car you need. If you opt for the S-Tronic (auto) version, then you will likely end up having to spend a little premium for a bump in power, too; as most were the 177/190bhp versions.

However, you have such a strong budget that I think you should focus on buying new. Other options at this price and of similar ilk are the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, and Mazda CX-5. Consider also the X-Trail, Honda CR-V and Volvo XC60. I quite like the CX-5 and its 2.2 diesel engine has loads of torque. Still, it's hard to look past the Kodiaq at the moment.

Eddie: There are lots of options and you could drive yourself mad trying to decide. I've no problem suggesting the Kodiaq. It's newest here and I think it is well priced. Go for it.

Neither my husband nor I really know much about cars, etc so he suggested I contact you.

Husband has: Seat Ibiza (2012) and uses it to commute; approx 10,000km/year.

Wife has: Volvo S40 (2011) 1.6 diesel; current mileage 130,000km. NCT due in March. I travel approx 30,000km/year for work purposes so I need a reliable car.

I brought it to two garages and was offered €8K and €9K against other cars. However, neither garage wanted to take my car and both suggested I should sell it myself. I have never sold a car so I'm a bit reluctant to go down this route.

We have one 22-month-old and hopefully we will have another child in due course. I would like a high-up car but money is tight. I suggested PCP but my husband says my mileage is too high.

I don't know what to do. I can spend about €8K along with my own. I presume I could get a car loan either for a larger amount if that's more appropriate and pay it back over time so I could access more money if need be. Would you suggest we buy new or second hand?

Aidan: I am a little confused. Two garages offered you trade-in allowances but advised you to sell your car privately. That sounds like a contradiction to me and especially considering neither value is totally unreasonable. Are you sure you have that right? You have a 2011 diesel with standard mileage so it should represent good stock to somebody. I am loath to press someone into an uncomfortable financial arrangement but you mention that you can spend a bit more for the right car.

I think you should consider this if it does not incur too much financial or personal stress. I have spoken before about the compression in values in the used market.

Essentially, when stock is widely sought after, residual values strengthen. The net result is that the difference in values for different registration plates tighten. That has been happening our market for quite a while now and it means that every extra few quid you can find brings you up the years.

There is no shortage of fresh used stock so there are good deals to be had. Look for a Peugeot 3008 1.6 HDi Active model. They are excellent value for money. The new one is just about to land here but a 161 old model is in good supply and would be a great buy at around €22,000.

So too, would be a Qashqai, Kia Sportage, or a Hyundai ix35, all of which are more numerous now than before and so choice is better and values are softening slightly; making them more attractive.

You won't get a 2016 model of those three, though. Keep the Ibiza. It doesn't need to be changed for another while yet. Your car is more important because you are asking it to do more. Maintain the Ibiza properly and drive it for another 12 months or so.

Eddie: Your mileage probably is too high for moderate PCP repayments so you are down to getting something for around €16,000/€17,000 (trade-in value plus your own €8,000 cash). It's still a good lump of money. However, with 30,000km a year you need something with low mileage to start with. I have a feeling you'll do best with a second hand Nissan Qashqai. You may have to go back a year further than Aidan or I would necessarily like but don't let that put you off if it has lower mileage and was well minded (check service history). There should be a good choice of Qashqais so that would be my choice. Concentrate on your car for now; the Ibiza has years in it yet.

My wife and I are retired and in our early 70s. We drive a 2010 Audi A4 1.9TDi 140bhp with 95,000 miles on the clock. It's time to change as I need an automatic and my wife needs something a little higher off the ground but not an SUV type as that would be too big.

So far we have considered the Toyota C-HR, the Mercedes GLA and Audi Q2. Our budget is up to €40,000. I'm prepared to buy new or second hand. I favour the Q2 and my wife favours the GLA. Have you any suggestions on which car might be better or indeed another type that meets our requirements that I may not have thought of. It's confusing.

Aidan: I think you have done a fine job in narrowing your search. Go drive all three and see which one suits you best. With your budget, you should not settle for anything less than a new car. The C-HR is only available with automatic transmission so long as you choose the hybrid model. Actually, it's probably all the car you need. It's deceptively spacious but its physical footprint won't make it cumbersome or awkward to adapt to coming from an A4. Treat yourself and go for the Sol model.

The interior gets a half leather upgrade and some interior flourishes that finish it off nicely. You don't provide us with your annual mileage but my calculations derived from your A4's odometer, suggests that petrol is perfectly fine for you. If that is the case, then the Q2 which I would choose is the 1.4 TFSi SE 150 S-Tronic.

The 1.0 litre 115bhp version might be fine for you and will save you circa €2,500 but you shouldn't surrender all of that premium when you trade it back in so why not go the extra few quid now and have a bit of oomph when you might need it? As for the GLA, your wife sounds like an eminently sensible woman. Mercedes here is offering a 10pc discount on retail prices across its range (but be quick, because that offer expires soon), so now is as good a time to buy a Merc as any. I am going to contradict myself a little here, but I think the GLA 180 Urban Auto is all you need.

In terms of power, the direct equivalent to the Q2 1.4 is the GLA 200 but the GLA 180 should be fine for you. If you are already feeling a little daunted by those prospect, then I don't see any reason to expand your search further. Any one of those three would make a fine choice.

Eddie: I think you already know the answer to this. Your wife wants the Mercedes GLA. Chances are you'll get the GLA. Best of luck. Nice car.


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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