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I'm in my 50s and a first-time buyer. Help me to get a decent car for around €5,000

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Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz

Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

Lexus CT200h

Lexus CT200h

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Honda Jazz

I'm in my 50s and need some advice about buying my first car (true). I have a budget of €4,000 to €5,000 and want a nice car that won't give me trouble as I haven't a clue about mechanics. I was thinking of a Corsa, Ibiza, Yaris. Someone also said Japanese automatic import but I have been told they are hard to insure? The automatic makes some sense as I have some hip trouble.

Aidan: I'd drop the 'Japanese import' part of the advice you were given but only because my advice is at arm's reach. Unlike for UK cars, we don't have access to vehicle histories for Japanese imports so you're venturing into unknown waters there.

Still, Japanese brands have a reputation for being reliable so find one that has spent its life here instead. Take a close look at the Honda Jazz. There are some CVT (automatic) models available in your budget. You should be able to afford a 2006 model. The Jazz has a slightly higher seating position than some others in this class and the doors open good and wide so manoeuvring in and out shouldn't be any trouble for you.

I know you're still only in your fifties but you may as well be comfortable from all angles. The Yaris is an excellent choice simply because they tend to run forever. The engine is a 3-cylinder and it's cheap to maintain. If it's badge says Vitz; then it's a Japanese import.

Lastly, I suggest test driving an Opel Corsa. There are some automatics and it has a super little 1.2 engine. If you stretch your budget by another €500 or so you could get into a 2008 model with low mileage. That would be ideal.

Eddie: The Nissan Micra is one of the most popular automatics (CVT) out there. I'd say you'd find one fairly handy. Mightn't be too tall but it will go forever.

Another small car to look out for is the Mitsubishi Colt which is reasonably tall and easy to access. A Colt will go forever too but for some reason they are not madly sought after on the used market. Great little engine and easy to drive. I don't know why but I've a feeling you'll end up with the Micra.

I'm looking at changing my 2007 BMW 318i (55,000 kilometres). I am the only owner. I am quoted about €8,000 on a trade-in. Looking at maybe a demo Golf or a 2012 3-series. I do little mileage and I will be the only user. I have a budget of about €28,000. Any ideas?

Aidan: Seeing as you've already been given a trade-in allowance to base other offers on, it's worth remembering to concentrate on your 'cost to change'.

This is the amount of money you spend to your new car. Even if someone offers you less, the deal could still be better.

Having said that, whoever offered you €8,000 is showing a lot of interest - it's a good price. The 2012 3-series is the first of the F30 shape. Lovely motor.

Buy from a BMW dealer and you'll get the Premium Selection treatment; unlimited mileage warranty for two years and an assurance it was properly inspected before delivery.

You're used to the BMW brand so it's a logical choice. However, we're nearing the time when car rental companies de-fleet a lot of their stock.

These hire-drive vehicles return to the market in various states and mileages.

If you don't cover big annual mileage then consider a 1.2-litre TSi Golf. You won't need anywhere near your €28,000 budget either, which is something to consider.

However, many of these cars will be a mix of Trendline and Comfortline spec and if you've got a little extra in the coffers it would be nice to get a Highline model. You can buy one new, though.

And you can spec it how you want. Can't make that decision for you and reckon you've picked two of the best. Wouldn't look too far elsewhere. Maybe a 2013 GTi? Just saying.

Eddie: Can't dispute Aidan's logic but, for the hell of it, here's a couple of alternatives that you might consider.

You say you will be the only user which prompts me to think of the Audi A3 nicely set up and specced. It's a big favourite out there and I reckon you'll get a good trade-in too. People criticise it for being expensive but that's only because it is in demand. Just might suit you. I know it's a hatch and you're driving a saloon but the Golf is a hatch too. And I know it's dearer than a Golf. However, play your cards right and you'll easily get a decent, well-up-the-years petrol for the sort of money you're talking about. With cash to spare, I'd say.

Ever consider a hybrid? The Lexus CT200h is a cracking little driver, It is often overlooked and indeed not mentioned most of the time but it is well worth a thought for you.

It looks well and you'll easily reach the price of a new one with the sort of money at your disposal. I'd be surprised it you didn't have a fair bit left over. And you'll have low running costs to look forward to for years. Worth consideration because it's extremely frugal over short journeys.

I have an 08, 2,000cc petrol Nissan X-trail with 60,000 klms/36,000 mls on the clock. I'm considering changing to a smaller car as I am only covering 8,000kms - 10,000 kms a year now. However, dealers have been telling me to hold on to it as it cannot drop any more in value than the €5,000 they are offering as a trade in. Do you think its worth trading? I am used to the height off the ground so if I am trading I would to get something of similar height. I also tow a small trailer occasionally. My car is considered to be the second car in the household as we have an 11 Ford Focus with low mileage. I have a budget of €10,000 to €15,000.

Aidan: Tough decision, this one. But I'm going to favour that you stick with the X-trail and here's why. Whatever dealer told you to hang onto it and that it won't depreciate much more was spot on.

The 2009 model is only worth around the same money as the 2008 version because when the tax changed in July 2008, it shot up to more than €1,000. So, if anything, your 2008 is more desirable.

It sounds like your servicing your household motoring needs perfectly so there isn't much reason to change.

Okay, it would be great to reduce your annual motor tax bill and save a few euro on fuel but it will take you quite a few years to see any return on an outlay of around €10,000.

The X-Trail is a lovely SUV. Keep treating it right and it won't miss a beat.

Eddie: You have something that is costing you a bit to run but not really losing much value. I agree you should grin and bear it. But keep a close lookout over the next few months.

If something like a Hyundai ix35, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Skoda Yeti popped up at decent money you might consider selling your X-Trail separately and getting into something smaller. But you will miss the X-Trail. Fine machine.

 

Just to say

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).

Email: ecunningham@independent.ie

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