Are you buying a second-hand or new car? Ask our experts


Are you buying a second-hand or new car? Ask our experts


Lexus UX
Lexus UX

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

We have a three-year old Volvo S60 2-litre diesel, bought new; now has just more than 100,000km. We use it for a daily commute of 60km while there is considerable work-related travel. Despite the mileage we are really happy with our fuel consumption and satisfied with the Volvo. Other than usual expenses, it has cost us nothing in repairs. With retirement on the horizon ideally the next car will be one to hold onto for a while. And now with only two of us the need for the bigger car is not a big deal. I wonder about hybrid with a longing look at the Lexus but equally wonder about changing back to petrol. We could invest €20,000 to €25,000 and wonder what the best options are? Looking forward to your suggestions.

Gillian: Great to hear a small review of the S60. I really like the car too, but I understand you may not require a larger auto over the next few years and why you would look to switch to hybrid.

By going to hybrid, you will be going petrol also as diesel hybrids are rare. The Lexus CT200h (which I currently drive and love) is a hatchback with plenty of spec and is an enjoyable drive. My only issue with it is that the boot is so small.

The car has also been around since 2011 so we’ll see a change of model soon. Lexus have introduced a new crossover recently that might be a good option. The UX 200h starts at €40k so will fall within your budget. It is a compact SUV and is lower than others in its class, but slightly longer so its size might be what you are looking for. Lexus have a good range of new hybrids. Toyota have too. The new Corolla hybrid is a super motor too but with your budget and coming from the S60, a Lexus might be the better move.

Eddie: I’d buy the Toyota C-HR compact hybrid crossover. It’s got wonderful styling, a nice height and you won’t be affected by a dark cabin at the back.

I am looking to change my car. I have a budget, including trade-in, of €15k. I do about 45,000km a year mostly on the N11/M11. The cars I’ve been looking at are: the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Skoda Superb, Infiniti Q50 and Volvo S60. What do you think? Also could you advise on whether a 2-litre or a 1.6-diesel would be most efficient?

Gillian: For €15k I’d be looking for as new possible with the best spec possible and a car with a low odometer reading. You will be racking up some kms and don’t want to get bogged down with extra running costs. The Mondeo, Passat and Superb are excellent choices and are available as manual in the 2.0 diesel engines from new. The 1.6 is off for now anyway.

So, I would say go for a 2.0 for that little bit of extra poke and because they generally come with nicer spec. Mondeo had a change of model in 2015 and I would be surprised if you couldn’t squeeze into a Titanium model with a 151 plate. The Superb changes from 152 but you would need to push the budget another €2k to get a high spec Style model in this one. And similarly, a top-spec Passat may require a touch more funding but €1k should do it. I wouldn’t rule out a the S60, even though you will more than likely need to go one year older, but they are quite impressive and would suit someone doing your annual driving.

Eddie: Through a process of elimination I’d go for the 2-litre Passat or Skoda Superb. Push me hard and I’d go for the Superb – better value.

I have availed of the disabled passenger scheme (no VAT or VRT) since 2013. I am designated driver for my mother who is in a wheelchair. I want to change the car in July and am not sure if a hybrid is the right option. Is there VAT/VRT payable on them? I currently have a Volkswagen Passat 1.6, July 2017. Any advice appreciated.

Gillian: Hybrids are subject to VAT and VRT and there is currently a small VRT rebate of €1,500 for a new model. If you want a hybrid then go for it. I don’t really know your full needs, but assuming you need a large boot for a wheelchair, the Passat was a good choice.

Hybrids generally don’t offer large boot space because it can often be taken up by the battery. The Hyundai Ioniq, however, stores its battery under the seats and so the boot is roomy. It is priced roughly the same as a VW Passat so worth a look. You could of course stick with a diesel or go petrol, depending on your needs.

There is a lot of hype around hybrid at the minute but the choice is still fairly limited so be careful not to fall into the ‘trendy’ trap. SUVs are hugely popular but perhaps the higher ride height wouldn’t suit access from a wheelchair. Honda have some of the most impressive models for boot space. The new Civic is excellent. It comes as a hatchback or saloon, petrol or diesel, manual or automatic and a good choice of spec. I would start there.

Eddie: I’m getting some really good feedback on the KIA Ceed sportwagon (estate). I’m not surprised. I liked it when I drove it and I think it is a real option for you – diesel or petrol.

I drive a 2011 Audi A3, 1.6 diesel and average about 10,000km/yr. The car has 49,000 miles on the clock. Most of my driving is short trips around the city, although I tend to have one long motorway journey a month. I need a car that can handle 120kmh. I’d like to upgrade the car and hopefully move up to 2016, but my budget is limited. I have about €4,000 plus trade-in. Would you recommend a Ford Fiesta or would it be better to buy an older Ford Focus? Would it be crazy to buy a petrol or is there much difference in price?

Gillian: Your own car has low kms. If it has a full service history and is in good condition, you will have no hassle selling it on. Add this to your €4k and you should get the 161 you are looking for in the Fiesta or a 151 Focus, both in petrol. You only cover 10,000km/yr so there really is no need for a diesel. Because you like to drive at maximum allowable speed on the motorway, I would opt for the Focus out of the two. To answer your question on the difference in price between petrol and diesel, most dealers say it’s €500. Some say no difference; some say €1k at most but a good guide is the mid-way point. Be prepared for a lack in power coming from the A3. While the Focus is a 1.0 turbo and won’t have any issue on the motorway, it isn’t a 1.6 diesel Audi so I would suggest you look for the 125hp model over the standard 100hp.

Eddie: I’d also drive a Peugeot 308 petrol. You do not need a diesel.

My wife and I have a 151-reg 1.6TDi Passat saloon. While we occasionally have the grandchildren in the back, most of the time it is just the two of us. Most (90pc) of our journeys are in Dublin with two longer trips a down the country. Economy is good in the city – average 6.5l/km. However, on long runs and with a gentle right foot we can achieve 4.2l/km. However, it is the comfort in the Passat that we love and the safety feeling while driving a solid car. We are thinking of changing and we are considering hybrid v electric v stay with diesel. Electric sounds great but range anxiety and cost are big concerns. Stories of charge points on routes being out of order or inconsiderate drivers parking at or blocking points is a concern. Ultimately, the cost of replacing our Passat with a similar car will influence our decision. We feel safe and comfortable in the Volkswagen and to get that feeling in a new electric/hybrid is expensive. It costs us approx €80/month for diesel so it would take some time to get back the extra cost.

Gillian: I wouldn’t suggest you opt for electric with the concerns you have. It is not worth the brain space. Hybrid shouldn’t cost you a thought as you don’t need to do anything with it. You drive it, and as you do so the petrol/diesel engine is charging the battery. You don’t need to plug it in or worry about charging stations. It drives like a typical car but fuel costs are generally lower, depending on your driving. €80/month in diesel doesn’t sound like you do a whole lot of driving and with mainly city driving and the fact that you are even considering electric makes me think a hybrid is a good fit.

Volkswagen and other brands in the VW group haven’t really jumped on the hybrid train just yet. Toyota is your best bet and while the Corolla isn’t as big as the Passat, it has plenty of rear space when the grandkids come over. The saloon option is good and starts under €27k. The Toyota CH-R is an option.

Eddie: Why change from the Passat? If you like the car so much I wouldn’t be swayed by talk of hybrid and electric. By the time you come to change your next Passat you’ll have plenty of choice on the EV and hybrid fronts.

Help us help you

WE love 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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