Why was I given the brush-off? Car for €5,000?; What is the best 7-seater?
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 would like your advice on what to do. I have a five-year-old Mercedes C-Class. I have approached a couple of dealers (not Mercedes) and I feel I have been shunted around. One told me to come back when I had a better offer than his. Surely in this day and age I deserve better than that? I feel second class. Just because I didn't make up my mind and join some PCP deal. What should I do?
Aidan: This is a tricky one because I hate hearing about customers having bad experiences with dealers and I don't think you should take too much offence to being told to come back to a dealer if his/her offer is beaten.
Dealers have lots of considerations when pricing a deal and as much as many people hate it, profit is one of them. They are no good to you if they are out of business. By asking you to come back to them if you get a better offer is still no guarantee that they can beat it but they at least would like a crack at seeing if it is possible.
It might mean making little or no profit on the deal (trust me, things are that competitive) but that is for them to decide and is none of your concern. All you can do is play the game and haggle for the best deal, even if it means doing the rounds a few times over.
Why not call the dealer's bluff and go get another quote somewhere else? If turns out to be better then you have a strong bargaining position. You say that you did not go to a Mercedes dealer. Are you thinking of changing? Why not try a Mercedes dealer for a quote on a new C-Class and then stack it up against the competition. I hope it was an isolated case and you get better service from here on.
Eddie: I've got a few complaints of late along similar lines. I hope the flush of selling so many new cars is not going to some dealers' heads. My advice is fairly blunt. If you felt 'second class' even though you were effectively looking to spend money, imagine how you'd feel if you needed support and back-up from that dealer.
I'd run a million miles from it. But before doing that I would send a note to the relevant distributor. There is no place for that sort of eejiting any more. With a C-Class, go to a Merc, Audi, Lexus or BMW dealership and see how you get on. Trust me, good second-hand premium cars are in big demand. I'll be surprised if you're not treated like a prince.
I am looking to buy a small car for myself. I am 50 this year and have not driven much for a long time. I have €5,000 to spend of my savings. I need something to get me to and from the nearest large town which is 10 miles or so twice or three times a week. As I live out in the country I need it to be reliable first and economical second. After that I'm not pushed. There is a garage in the big town but all the cars seem too expensive for me.
Aidan: Main franchise dealers tend not to have much stock in that price bracket because they have to adhere to lots of criteria for warranty etc. Still, they trade in a few cars around this price and then trade them back out again so ask some of your local dealers to keep your phone number and call you if something suitable comes in that they might otherwise not usually retail.
If you have to buy privately, make sure to bring a mechanic or someone who knows their onions to view the car. A second pair of eyes can be worth their weight in gold one hundred times over.
Buy a car history report, too. It will give you lots of useful information about when the car was taxed and if there were gaps in NCT (which could mean that it wasn't serviced). You can somewhat mitigate headaches by buying something with a reputation for reliability.
Look for a Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz or Ford Fiesta. The Jazz is a lovely motor with a great seating position. They make very strong money on the used market so don't be too picky about the age of the vehicle. The same goes for any clean car in this price range. The Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta are fine choices and suit your type of commute. The Hyundai Getz is another sensible option if a bit rarer.
Eddie: It is not easy to pick up something at that sort of money. First off, I stress you need help with this. What you need is someone 'in the know' locally. Try talking with one of the sales people or mechanics in that garage in town. That has to be your starting point. You need someone you can rely on. Pay them if you have to because their knowledge is priceless.
Just remember, you are in risky enough territory at €5,000 and need protection from the unscrupulous.
As well as one of the models Aidan suggests, I'd also ask about a Mitsubishi Colt, Nissan Micra, Mazda2, SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia or Volkswagen Polo. They will either be old or have high mileage but if you get them mechanically checked and are happy with their history they might do the job for you.
We are currently driving a VW Touran 7-seater 2007 2-litre. We're thinking of changing and would still like a 7-seater. The VW has done us proud and I wouldn't rule out another. Trouble is our current one was an ex-demo model and loaded with extras. To get one now seems impossible and it's hundreds to add anything. I would ideally go for a 6-month old or so with plenty of extra touches and would consider something different if they could be as reliable and powerful. Any ideas what's a good 7-seater at the moment.
Aidan: There is a new Touran arriving later this year (Eddie has already driven it) so keep your eyes peeled for 'run out' models where manufacturers add lots of extras for little additional outlay. Sometimes brands do that to entice people into the last of the remaining stock of the soon-to-be old shape. They make a great purchase if you aren't hung up on having the newest model and technology but there is never a guarantee the manufacturer will do it. Check with your local dealer if there is some offer on Highline models or something with a bit of extra kit.
I will let Eddie divulge the nitty gritty on the specification of the brand new model, but from my perspective the pricing seems to be quite reasonable. The Touran will only be available as a 7-seater in Ireland and prices for the 1.6 TDi start at €31,715 for a Trendline model. If you are financing the car, expect some competitive rates from VW Bank.
Also, your own Touran might be sought after by VW dealers so your cost to change for a new one could work out more attainable than you think.
As for a few alternatives, the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso should not be overlooked. It comes with a 1.6 diesel engine that is most popular with a 120bhp output. You can also get a 2.0 HDi 150bhp model but only if you also opt for the high grade Exclusive spec. The list price for a 150bhp Exclusive is €33,495, which is not at all bad all things considered. It does make the 120bhp Exclusive at €31,695 sound like great value for money and worth serious consideration. It's not a slouch by any means.
Don't overlook the Peugeot 5008 either. It gets great reports from owners and dealers alike. A 1.6 HDi Allure model costs €32,830 brand new. You might even pick up a demo model for a bit less. The 5008 has sliding rear doors, which makes life a lot easier in cramped parking spaces.
Eddie: Yes, the new Touran is quite an improvement and I don't think prices have gone up much. The big attraction is that is has five ISOFIX child-seat anchors on the rear seats. I don't know if this is important for you but it is a big selling point.
In addition to Aidan's other suggested options I would add the KIA Carens 7-seven seater, which has plenty of room, as well as the Toyota Verso. Ford's new Grand C-Max is often unfairly overlooked too. I know you are worried about spec levels and paying for them, but I think you will find even basic trim now is a lot higher than when you first got your Touran.
I don't want you spending money unnecessarily but if you can stick with a new model, I think it would be your best bet in the long run.