Life Motoring

Saturday 15 December 2018

'My son is looking for a reliable car as a starter buyer'


Audi A1
Audi A1

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'

My son is looking for a reliable car as a starter buyer. He likes the Audi A1 and has a budget of €10k. Would this get him a 2012 model with perhaps 50k to 80k miles on the clock? He was looking at importing one from the UK. However, the taxes at 33pc are high. Perhaps the VW Golf would be a likely alternative?

Aidan: I don't know where you are getting a 33pc tax liability but, regardless, the Audi A1 is not easily or cost-effectively imported because they hold strong residuals in the UK.

The same is true of their values here so they make excellent used cars.

It's a nice, tidy machine and it looks the part. However, his budget will go a lot further in a Mazda2, which should translate into getting something with low mileage.

Tell him to look for a Sensu model. It's ultra-reliable, still very fresh looking, has excellent specification and shouldn't give him any trouble.

Eddie: On price, I think a nice Hyundai i30 hatch or even i20 would fit the bill as would a Kia cee'd or Skoda Fabia. Buy locally. You need the reassurance of back-up close by.

I drive a 10-reg BMW which I bought new. I love the car, but as a 70-year-old with back issues I find it too low and have difficulty getting in and out. I have to change to some type of Crossover/SUV. I would like something of similar quality/standard with comfort being a priority. I would like to spend €25/€30k, plus trade-in. For this I imagine I would get a new Crossover or maybe a 2/3-year-old larger SUV. I tend to hold on to a car rather than being a regular changer and do about 14,000km a year. There seems to be a huge choice out there and would value any pointers on which way I should go and what options you would recommend.

Aidan: Depending on how the deal is stacked, you could find that a 2016 Executive model Lexus NX300h is on the cards. It's ideal for you. Tall without being too high, comfortable, quiet, luxurious and with an automatic transmission.

It's also a hybrid, which your mileage most certainly warrants.

Eddie: On the face of it you are spoilt for choice but on your mileage it has to be petrol or hybrid so, therefore, a lot of SUVs are ruled out.

I just have a hunch that a brand new Toyota C-HR hybrid might interest you (it's also automatically automatic as a hybrid which is a help for anyone suffering from back pain too). It's a tad smaller maybe than you'd ideally like but I found it easy to access (and I've what they call a 'long back' - it has given me enough trouble anyway).

I also like the KIA Niro plug-in. It's nice and tall without being too 'SUV' and the cabin is excellent. You'll be spot-on budget wise.

I am driving a 131 Skoda Octavia estate, 1.6 diesel with 210,000km. It had 85,000km when I bought it at two years old. My daily mileage to work is approximately 106km. Every 2-3 months I take a round trip of 300km to the west. We have one child. I am considering trading in for a hybrid to cut down on diesel costs and for environment purposes. I was hoping to buy a secondhand hybrid (Toyota?) - 2012 to 2014 - my budget is tight (approx €2-3k with my Skoda). Am I mad to think of doing this? Would you recommend a hybrid or should I stay the way I am.

Aidan: Your budget is extremely tight. I am not convinced that it is worth your while changing and yet you seem to have a requirement to do so.

Any move is likely to be quite lateral and you might soon find yourself in a very similar position.

Ideally, you need something with low mileage but that comes with a price tag.

If you can hold off and add to your savings you should be able to broaden your choices with clean, low mileage diesels.

Eddie: It would be easy for your limited budget to fall between the cracks of a deal.

I realise you have big mileage and I sympathise with your situation.

I think your best bet might be to go back a couple of years in the age of car you can buy in the hope of getting a used Toyota Prius with low mileage and a dealer prepared to take yours in for a reasonable amount.

I would not be madly optimistic about that happening but it is worth a try. If there was any prospect of having €7,000 to go with your Skoda in a year's time I'd nearly hold on.

I'm just fearful for you losing the few euro you have and ending up with little better to get you around. Please give it a lot of thought and maybe approach a dealer with a view to buying an older Prius.

I am about to trade in a Toyota Corolla 2009 diesel with a dodgy gearbox. Looking for a 2013 car with good boot space. It has to be diesel because I do a lot of driving. Any suggestions?

Aidan and Eddie: There is such great value for money in saloons that we think you could capitalise upon.

Here's a round-up of key models:

The Avensis 2-litre diesel is a nice choice and it's something you will be familiar with. Look for a Luna model if possible.

The old model Skoda Superb has aged a bit now but it's still a fine car with loads of space. The 1.6-litre diesel model was most popular but the 2-litre might suit you better.

The Mondeo 2-litre diesel is a good long-distance cruiser and the bigger engine was almost always kitted in Zetec or Titanium trim so you will be treated to nice specification.

The Volkswagen Passat is an obviously sensible choice. Again, we prefer the 2-litre for your long distances. Comfortline models were most common until the new model arrived in 2015.

The Peugeot 508 is underrated, especially as an estate. The 508 SW (estate) in Allure trim is lovely.

Finally, the Opel Insignia is finding the going a little tough in the market so you will pick up a nice SC model for decent money.

My wife and I both need cars for work. She drives the longer distance. Both cars are old and in need of trading up.

Our current plan is for my wife to trade up and I'll take her old car and we'll scrap my vehicle which is older and also in a worse condition.

Our plan is to take out a loan, buy her a car and then when the loan is repaid in five years, we'll do the same as the above with me taking the old car and her getting the newer car.

Would you think that buying the car outright is the right way to go versus PCP?

We would love suggestions for an SUV type automatic as we both have problems with our knees. Our budget would be about €18k with about €5k of that as a deposit.

Wife's car: 15k annual mileage. Present car: 05 Opel Astra 1.6 auto. 130,000km.

My car details are: 02 Ford Focus 1.4, manual. 160,000km. 8,000km annually.

Aidan and Eddie: You have a succession plan, which involves owning the newer car outright so that you can inherit it.

If you go the PCP route, you can still opt to buy it at the end but it might make more sense to simply go for a hire purchase from day one instead.

If the APR rate is 0pc, or close to it, on a PCP, then you could avail of the low monthly cost for three years and buy the car at the end of the agreement.

Do not assume that you have to use all of your €5,000 for a deposit.

Make sure that the deposit amount is a fair enough reflection of the amount of equity you will need at the end of the PCP agreement.

PCP is an excellent finance tool but sometimes people misrepresent and misunderstand it.

Crunch the numbers and see what works best. An automatic SUV will be tough to find but look for a Qashqai with the CVT gearbox.

If going new, then consider the Toyota C-HR or a SEAT . Petrol works for both of you.

Help us help you

Welove getting your enquiries and try to reply to as many as possible here or via email. The ones dealt with here often represent a cross section of individual questions. You can help us help you with our free, independent, advice by including the following in your queries:

* Budget (including trade-in).

* Annual mileage (in kms).

* Size of car required (number of seats).

* Present car (make, model, year and mileage) if relevant.

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