Just the one motor; car to retire with; mpg Focus; €45k budget; 32,000km per-year hybrid?
Independent advice desk
Car-value expert Gillian Keogh teams up with Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham to help you make the right choice with your next purchase. Gillian is Editor of a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars produced by the Motor Trade Publishers team. The team supplies a car-valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses.
Q My husband drives a Nissan Qashqai and I drive an Auris hybrid. As we are now both retired we are looking at getting one good car and maybe a small van for him. Because I have been driving a hybrid for more than 10 years, I am impressed with them. We are looking at the RAV4, C-HR and had a look at the Honda CR-V. I must admit the KIA plug-in hybrid (Niro) piqued my interest but I have no yardstick by which to judge. I don't know much about KIAs. Do you have an opinion?
Gillian: Last week we had a query which put the RAV4 up against the CR-V a little. I opted for the Honda by an inch and Eddie went for the Toyota, so I would say both are excellent choices if you need something that size. If not, then I wouldn't overspend. The Toyota C-HR and KIA Niro are also, in my opinion, two motors that work well as hybrids (Niro is a plug-in). I do suggest a home-charging station for any car you can charge such as the Niro. There is a government grant available towards this cost. You say you don't know much about KIA but I would have no fears buying one, as they make excellent cars. And don't forget they have a seven-year warranty on all new models. Most brands offer somewhere between three and five. The Niro costs €31,495 after grants, the CH-R is from €30,710, with the RAV4 from €35,900 and the CR-V from €39,500. They are all worth a spin. Take your time to see which feels best for you.
Eddie: I haven't changed my mind in a week. The Niro looks the best plug-in value but please get a home-charging kit so you don't just drive it on petrol alone. Too many doing that.
Q I have been driving a company car for the last 20 years. Currently it's a Hyundai i40. My wife doesn't like it. I am retiring shortly and am looking for an SUV-type (high seating) vehicle with auto/CVT/DSG. There will only be myself and my wife. I expect I will be doing low mileage after the first six months. My budget is €20,000 cash. I will not have a trade-in. If you could come up with two, max three, vehicles you think might work for us it would be great. I'm not a fast driver and I won't be in a hurry when I retire.
Gillian: If you plan on keeping it for a few years then go for as new as possible - but also pick the right size. There are varying shapes in the SUV market ranging from compact to large seven-seaters. There is the small SEAT Arona; you could afford a one-year-old DSG model with your budget. It has plenty of room, and higher seating than a standard hatch. The 1.0 petrol model should suit you.
If you wanted something a bit roomier, then a three-year-old Ateca also from SEAT is an option. Realistically you're looking at a 162, as they only arrived in Ireland before the summer of 2016. If you had another €2k/€3k there are a few more options. But sticking with budget and a maximum of three suggestions, I will throw in one more: the Nissan Qashqai 1.2. It comes with manual and automatic transmission (some of my other suggestions don't have that option). You will get a fresh two-year-old well-specced motor that is also good to drive. Seat height is ideal for most and I have little to fault it on.
Eddie: You need a small or compact SUV; no need for anything too big at all. There are several but not too many with automatic transmission. My suggestion is you stretch your budget a little - but not much - and try for a fresh/demo model Volkswagen T-Roc with DSG auto. It's big enough for the two of you and has good seat height. Rock-solid buy. Alternatively, try for an older (but larger) Toyota C-HR hybrid (auto transmission). Finally I'd try a relatively fresh and underrated Honda HR-V with its seven-speed automatic transmission.
Q I have had a 151 and a 171 Ford Focus diesel. I changed in the new year to a new 191 Focus 1-litre 125PS EcoBoost petrol. Ford's official consumption figures are: urban driving - 5.9-6.2litres/100km, Extra Urban 4.1-4.4litres/100km. Combined 4.8-5/litres/100km. I filled the tank on two occasions and drove 200km each time replacing 20.5 litres of petrol. The trip computer is showing 9.8-to-10.2litre per 100km, which is exactly the same as my test. It is so disappointing, I wondered if you had tested this new Focus petrol or if you had any feedback on it.
Gillian: I am afraid I have not tested it for fuel consumption. My research on valuations tells us it's a good seller and people like them. The Focus is always on our top-selling list and I don't see the new model being any different. I understand your disappointment but perhaps Eddie can shed some more light on it for you.
Eddie: I have found the 1-litre EcoBoost (there are different power levels) to be hard on fuel when driving down the country on longer journeys. In contrast, it was particularly thrifty around town on shorter trips and in heavy traffic. I've said it before: I believe engines like this have a big role to play for people doing up to 15,000kms of mostly urban driving. I don't believe they are capable of matching diesel for the long haul as yet. I think the PSA and VW small turbo petrols are better on that front than the EcoBoost in terms of litres/kilometres. That has been my experience. I think big-mileage drivers going from diesel to small petrol are going to notice the adjustment in consumption - as you have most pointedly.
Q I currently drive a 2009 Vauxhall Vectra diesel; 195,000 miles (312,000km) on the clock and starting to creak at the seams. Servicing costs and repairs are making it unsustainable. I can't see it having any meaningful resale value; perhaps €1,500 at best. My annual mileage is about 40k miles (64k km) but is almost all motorway driving. I have a budget of anything up to about €45,000 and have been giving serious consideration to the new Toyota Camry hybrid to try to reduce my current weekly diesel bill of €75. My wife and I are due our first child in the coming months so safety, back seat space and boot space (also handy for golf clubs) would be important.
Gillian: A Toyota Camry? Yes I would consider the same. You will get yourself the top-level Platinum model at €42,950. The boot will accommodate whatever sized buggy you get for the new arrival. The Camry also got a 5-star NCAP rating so safety is covered and the back seats have plenty of room for a growing family. As for the golf clubs . . . no worries. I did say at the start that I would consider one. Just remember, saloons are not madly popular right now - they haven't been for a while. There are some lovely new models such as the Peugeot 508 but SUVs are where it's at now. However, SUVs aren't as roomy as some think. Go for the Camry.
Eddie: The Camry sounds like a decent choice and it's a hybrid. The Peugeot 508 is gorgeous but I'd be a little concerned about rear headroom and access due to the sharpish slope of the roof.
But the one I'd urge you to also test drive would be the Skoda Superb diesel saloon or estate (mega room). For €40,000 or so you'll get a mighty package. Disposing of your Vauxhall will be difficult. I'd get the dealer to just take it off your hands and give you a nominal few euro.
Q I have a 2008 1.4 petrol Auris Luna (175,000km). I'm looking for a similar-sized car. I travel 32,000km a year including a commute of 45km each way. What fuel type would be best? Is hybrid uneconomical with the mileage that I do? My budget is €16,000 plus trade-in. I would be hoping to get a 2015 car; maybe newer if possible.
Gillian: Your most fuel-efficient for that driving is the diesel. A hybrid will do the job too, of course, but some people regard diesel as being more acceptable for that mileage. Just something to consider. Also by looking for a hybrid, your options are reduced greatly as there aren't too many around for your budget and ideal reg-plate year. There is, of course, the Auris hybrid. You might even squeeze into a 161-reg if your current car is in saleable condition. That would be for a higher Sol model. For a bit more luxury, the Lexus CT200h is the right size and if you get one with low kms, you may not have any concerns re-selling.
Your diesel options are huge and I would suggest the following: Skoda Octavia 1.6, Corolla/Auris 1.4 and Kia Ceed 1.6. These are all well tried and tested at this stage.
Eddie: I had reservations about hybrid for long journeys until I took the new Toyota Corolla to Letterkenny and back and got around 60mpg. So they are making big advances. However, owning the new one is beyond your budget. Maybe next time? It means you only have a few hybrid choices really and the seamless switch is to an Auris hybrid; or a slightly older Prius. I'd go for the Prius.