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What automatic estate to buy?

in Motoring
51 replies 2.9K views
We are on the look out for a nice new family estate car. It needs to be an automatic and have decent boot space. We've excluded the Fabia (too small), i30 (too small plus plasticky looking interior), Focus (too small) and are looking at cars like the BMW 3 series, Passat, Octavia and Mondeo. I have no particular preference over petrol or diesel. We do about 15000 miles a year, a mix of urban and motorway journeys. Our budget is up to £8.5-9k, however this would be for a car that is fuel efficient, doesn't depreciate as much etc.

To help us choose I've tried to work out what the real cost of ownership would be. I've chosen a range of cars on Autotrader, looked at the cost of insurance, the cost of tax, the cost of fuel, servicing costs (using an estimation from the car cost calculator on Parkers price guide website) and depreciation over a year. In an ideal world I would like to work out estimated costs over 3 years, but the Parkers website won't allow me to look further than 7 years and most of the cars we are choosing are from 07-08.

Based on this we have realised that the octavia (1.8 petrol) or BMW 3 series (318i or 320i) are both good options. Although they get less mpg, the costs of servicing are lower. However to get a BMW we would get one with slightly higher milage (80k compared to 40-50k). As we are unable to estimate costs of servicing etc beyond one year, its unclear if we should go for the car with the higher milage BMW or the lower milage Skoda. The Skodas all have the DSG gear box, which is notorious for being iffy and expensive to fix if it goes wrong, however BMW parts are pricey too. In my calculations I've looked at older cheaper cars like the Vectra, however once you add in the estimated cost of servicing etc, they are actually more expensive to run than the BMW or Skoda, despite the initial cheaper outlay.

Do you motoring gurus have any advice or tips on what to do. What would you folk look for? What would be your best option?


  • RichardD1970RichardD1970 Forumite
    3.8K Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    My dad has a VW Passat Estate Diesel Auto, which I borrowed for two weeks and it is fantastic.

    I think he paid about £8000 for a mint 07 reg.

    It was so good it converted me to a Auto when we look for a new car, we now have a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 Diesel EGS which although we have had only had a few weeks we absolutely love. It has a nice high driving position and the option for 7 seats when/if we need and a large boot when we don't. Visibility is excellent with a large windscreen and thin pillars, it pulls ok and so far on town driving have managed over 40 mpg. Ours is an 08/57 reg and was £7500
  • forgotmynameforgotmyname Forumite
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    Mondeo. Depreciates LOTS in the 1st couple of years. But that means its cheaper to buy.

    I paid just over £2000 for a 5 year old one. in 2009.

    £2000 would buy me a nice 2007 MK3 one of the last made. Before the MK4 came out.

    Heavy depreciation is not so bad when it costs less in the 1st place.

    Buy a £10,000 Merc that loses 30%. A £6000 Ford would have to lose over 50% before it loses as much as the Merc.

    Which it wont after its a year or 2 old.

    Mondeo estate is huge.
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  • oliverroliverr Forumite
    418 Posts
    Forget the petrol models. It may be cheaper in the short-term but with those miles every year, you'd save money on fuel by going for a more economical diesel.

    The Passat is a good car and as the above poster says, you can pick up a decent one for your budget, plus it's a VW so it will hold onto it's value better than a Ford or a Vauxhall for example. I'm unsure on how much servicing or repairs are on a car like that, but Passats are generally of good quality.

    Alternatives would be the Mondeo, the 2.0 TDCi engine is powerful and efficient. It won't hold its value as well as the VW however, but is a good car nonetheless.
  • getmore4lessgetmore4less Forumite
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    When I read the title I was going to say a Octavia 1.8TSI(if you can find one) or a 1.9TDI

    L&K spec or Elegance

    Cargiant get the odd one in.

    if going diesel octavia stick with the 1.9 and look for one that has had the DSG oil change and the cambelt they are the 2 big extras over regular service.

    can't argue with the Mondeo value for money if you like them.
  • Wow, thanks for all your replies.

    The assumption that diesel is cheapest though is what worries me. Yes fuel is cheaper, but the initial outlay for a diesel car is more, plus parts and servicing are more. So I want to think carefully before buying.

    Thanks for the tips about the dsg. I've heard that before and did actually phone up about a skoda yesterday that had fsh with skoda but the owner didn't know if it had had the dsg oil changed.

    It's interesting that nobody has picked the BMW 3 series touring. They seem popular and hold their value well. Can I ask why nobody likes them?

    I have looked at the mondeo but there doesn't seem to be loads about at the moment. I sometimes think the ford interior can be plasticky compared with skoda, vw et al.

    I like both the octavia and the passat but again it's finding one with the right service history. We are in Manchester so car giant is out of the question. Plus I'm really put off by their policy of only allowing brief test drives. I want a spin on a motorway at the very least.
  • vikingaerovikingaero Forumite
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    JoeyEmma wrote: »

    It's interesting that nobody has picked the BMW 3 series touring. They seem popular and hold their value well. Can I ask why nobody likes them?

    The 3 Series Touring has about the same interior dimensions as the Focus.
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  • RobisereRobisere Forumite
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    vikingaero is correct.

    The BMW 3 Series is quite cramped compared to, say, a VW Passat. That, btw, is the one I would recommend. Roomy, comfortable, lower depreciation, popular so parts & servicing relatively cheap. In addition, one of the safest cars you can buy. And they drive well. The diesel does not feel like a diesel when on the road.
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  • oliverroliverr Forumite
    418 Posts
    The 3 Series is a smaller car compared to the others you are comparing. Sure, its a BMW but you'd be better off getting a similar quality Passat which is newer, and bigger.

    And trust me, a diesel will be better for you, as you say you cover around 15,000 miles a year. The majority of those sort of cars are diesel also, so it might not be as much extra to buy in the first place. I'm not sure if parts and servicing are neccessarily more with a diesel? And diesels (especially the VW Group ones) will usually run easily over 100,000 miles.

    I know not a VW, but my dad has a 10 year-old C-Class brought second hand and it has covered over 150,000 miles and bar a few minor niggles it is running well.
  • BigManBigMan Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    Definately a ŠKODA Octavia Estate.

    As for the cambelt & DSG issues, most ŠKODA dealers will do a cambelt & water pump for £369 and a DSG change for £100-£150.

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  • BigMan wrote: »
    Definately a ŠKODA Octavia Estate.

    As for the cambelt & DSG issues, most ŠKODA dealers will do a cambelt & water pump for £369 and a DSG change for £100-£150.

    Thanks, thats really useful to know.

    What sort of milage would you be looking for when buying second hand? Too low and I would worry that the diesel engine hasn't been having enough of a run out, too high and I worry that things would start needing replacing.

    Am I also nuts to be put off by cars that have had numerous owners? Cars that have had 3+ owners make me feel nervous.

    I think I am overthinking all of this. Our current car is an '05 1.6 petrol Toyota Corolla which has been a total gem of a car. A proper workhorse, the only thing that has gone on it is the tray the drivers seat is attached to. We just get it services every 10,000 and it does great.
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