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Looking for a new (to me, but still second hand) car but not wanting to limit the search.

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Looking for a new (to me, but still second hand) car but not wanting to limit the search.

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JustAnotherSaverJustAnotherSaver Forumite
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I've seen a car for sale that i'd be quite interested in. The one and only thing that's holding me back is the power output. This makes me feel like i could be going round in circles on this and I wondered if there's makes & models that may be worth a look at but that i've so far not considered.

Right now i'm not in a position where I need to look for a car. That could change.
The car I just mentioned is a 2009 A3 1.9 TDI 103bhp. I know a remap would put it in the 130-140bhp area which wouldn't be awful, but that was the base of what i had been looking at.
What also makes me consider this is the MOT history. Out of everything i've been looking at, it's the first car that isn't littered with oranges and reds on the Vehicle Smart app. It's had greens all the way (no advisories) since 2014 which only showed a something-or-nothing orange (advisory). On the surface ... it appears looked after.

What i had been looking at were the Mondeo ST TDCI on around the 2006-2007 plate.
Focus 2.0 TDCI 134bhp on around same age.
I'd looked at the MK5 Astra 1.9 CDTI 150bhp although this was more of an if i must, which at the moment i don't. We own the 5 door 1.6 which i think looks awful but the wife is happy enough with it. It only looks decent (my opinion) in 3 door format with XP kit but then i'm not a fan of 3 door cars. The interior is bland as hell. There's annoyances when you fit an aftermarket head unit.
I'd considered the MK5 Golf 2.0 TDI 140bhp. My sister has one & hasn't had anything major go. I'd stay away from the 170bhp version as i believe these all had DPFs whereas the 140s don't.
All in the £3k tops bracket.

What i'm looking for is a car that can be cheap to run - the only thing i can't complain about right now with my car is the insurance. The tax is terrible for what it is at £300 or more per year and the fuel economy is 35-37MPG which i'd prefer to be higher. It's a 1.8 MK4 Astra.

Out of interest, anyone here had the 103bhp unit that i mentioned earlier with the A3? Not necessarily in Audi format but any VAG & can comment on it, especially if remapped?


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  • The_RainmakerThe_Rainmaker Forumite
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    Why would you buy a car that you wanted to remap when you could just buy one with a higher output?  Also you would have to inform your insurer if you remapped it.  All the cars you have mentioned are in banger territory so shouldn't cost you too much.
  • JustAnotherSaverJustAnotherSaver Forumite
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    Why would you buy a car that you wanted to remap when you could just buy one with a higher output?  Also you would have to inform your insurer if you remapped it.  All the cars you have mentioned are in banger territory so shouldn't cost you too much.
    "Could just buy one..."

    Very true. I could "just buy" whatever right now with a higher output. Depends whether you look at the signs though.

    I've constantly been seeing descriptions saying things like "sold as seen" ... translates as will die the moment you get it off my drive but at least i'll have your money.
    I've seen adverts this week "this is an easy fix" "my mate told me it doesn't cost much to put right" "That'll just be xyz to fix it, don't worry about it".
    The best one i saw said basically no test driving of the car because "this virus is about" and not to forget "the insurance thing". Yes i kid you not, that is word for word what they said - "the insurance thing".

    This one from the advert seems in good condition. The MOT history suggests a well looked after car with barely an advisory in all the MOT entries. The one and only thing that has me undecided is the power output. Went to look at it tonight and inside & out it looks decent.

    So while i "could just buy", it's what am i getting. I've skipped many due to adverts such as "that insurance thing"

    When describing the Astra that i mentioned earlier, i made a point to state that it was my opinion of the appearance because it's exactly that - an opinion. Someone else may think they look spot on. You mention banger territory like it's an undisputed fact. It's not. I picked up my current car over 10 years ago when it was 7 years old for £1,400. It was in good condition and has only really cost me tyres, brakes etc. This budget is twice that. Ok I appreciate we're not talking about brand new never before even looked at £100k cars but you should be able to get something decent for £3k. It's not £300, if it was then i'd agree.

  • JustAnotherSaverJustAnotherSaver Forumite
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    Oh and to answer you, if i bought a 140 Golf for example, i'd consider remapping it. If i bought the 155 Mondeo ST i'd consider remapping it. If i bought a 200bhp standard car, i'd consider remapping it. Why? There is no why. Just because. Because i'd want to. Why not?

    I'm also well aware that you need to declare it on the insurance, but then that's drifting a million miles from the topic at hand.

  • edited 11 July at 10:26PM
    daveyjpdaveyjp Forumite
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    edited 11 July at 10:26PM
    The A3 will be one of the last of the 1.9 TDi.  They reworked the 1.9 to make it an 'efficiency' model, hence the 105ps. There were also other changes with gearbox and aerodynamics to reduce emissions, so a remap may not get what you want.

    Find a 140 or 170 (which does have a DPF) 2.0 TDi if you want more power.  

    With any older diesel you do now need to consider clean air zones if you live near a large city.
  • timwalkertimwalker Forumite
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    Excuse my ignorance OP, but what exactly do you want to know. I can't work it out from your rambling.
    Are you ok breathing on your own?
  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    I've constantly been seeing descriptions saying things like "sold as seen" ... translates as will die the moment you get it off my drive but at least i'll have your money.
    "Sold as seen" is meaningless. It's an 11yo cheapish car. If it's from a trader, your consumer rights are very limited due to that. If it's from a private seller, you're buying with no comeback anyway.
    The best one i saw said basically no test driving of the car because "this virus is about" and not to forget "the insurance thing". Yes i kid you not, that is word for word what they said - "the insurance thing".
    Well, that's not a problem, because you aren't expecting the vendor's insurance to cover you anyway, so you know that your own insurance does cover you, and can prove it to the vendor... right?
  • edited 12 July at 1:21PM
    MinuteNoodlesMinuteNoodles Forumite
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    edited 12 July at 1:21PM
    103BHP in a diesel hatchback the size of the A3 is just fine. I have a 118BHP MK4 Focus 1.5L diesel and it accelerates equally as fast as my 140BHP 2.0L TDCi MK4 Mondeo did both 0-60 and 40-70 as I did acceleration tests with them both (wife driving Mondeo and no, she doesn't hang about) and the Focus kept up to the Mondeo. It'll feel quite comparible to your Astra, probably quicker due to the maximum power being lower down the rev range and the feeling of faster lower end acceleration you get with a modern TD engine.
  • forgotmynameforgotmyname Forumite
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    It may only have 103bhp but the gearing makes a huge difference.

    Why does a car with just 108bhp tow better than a car with 142bhp?  Because the top speed of the 108bhp is
    110mph where the 142bhp car needs to be geared for almost 150mph.

    Just because a car has 6 gears and pulls along fine as low as 40mph does not mean thats the
    most fuel efficient.  I tow in 5th gear as 6th gear uses more fuel until you reach closer to 70mph.

    Similar results using 5th gear at or below 40mph, yes it will do it, but its not as efficient which is not
    what they taught us when learning to drive, change us ASAP but that may no longer be the case.


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  • benbay001benbay001 Forumite
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    It may only have 103bhp but the gearing makes a huge difference.

    Why does a car with just 108bhp tow better than a car with 142bhp?  Because the top speed of the 108bhp is
    110mph where the 142bhp car needs to be geared for almost 150mph.

    Just because a car has 6 gears and pulls along fine as low as 40mph does not mean thats the
    most fuel efficient.  I tow in 5th gear as 6th gear uses more fuel until you reach closer to 70mph.

    Similar results using 5th gear at or below 40mph, yes it will do it, but its not as efficient which is not
    what they taught us when learning to drive, change us ASAP but that may no longer be the case.


    A car with a top speed of 110mph isnt going to be limited by gearing, and the same car but with 142 mph wont get anywhere close to 150mph. If the 108bhp one does 110, the 142bhp one will likely get 120mph.
    An old tech diesel with 103bhp in a mid size hatchback will be plenty quick enough for most people.
    BHP is argueably a meaningless figure for most people, as that power peak is usually produced at an RPM they rarely drive at.
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  • JustAnotherSaverJustAnotherSaver Forumite
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    daveyjp said:
    Find a 140 or 170 (which does have a DPF) 2.0 TDi if you want more power.  

    With any older diesel you do now need to consider clean air zones if you live near a large city.
    I've experienced the 140. It was decent enough. I think with a remap it would be ok for what I want, possibly. Who knows, i've never driven a remapped one. I have read concerns about the reliability of them but then while she has had some issues with the car, i don't think my sister has had a ton of problem with her 140 (though in MK5 Golf format).
    The 170 would be a no due to the DPF. I'm not willing to buy one to find out it isn't going to work out.

    That whole clean air zone thing doesn't apply here. Not yet anyway i suppose.

    timwalker said:
    Excuse my ignorance OP, but what exactly do you want to know. I can't work it out from your rambling.
    Are you ok breathing on your own?
    I was going to answer your question, but with that attitude you have as you finished off the post then forget it. Totally uncalled for.

    AdrianC said:
    "Sold as seen" is meaningless.
    Exactly. That's why whenever I see it in an advert I totally write the car off. To me they're the first words a con-man would come out with.

    AdrianC said:
    so you know that your own insurance does cover you, and can prove it to the vendor... right?
    Like I said, those are the words in the description of a car - which means i didn't write them...right?
    I know full well that there is no 'insurance thing'. I can be covered on any car i wish to buy and prove it.
    The point i was making was that the second hand market seem to be filled with idiots. To say you can't test drive it "because of the insurance thing" is just absurd.
    It's also a wind up when they say they have a part for some simple fix. Just bloody well fit it then if you have it and it's so simple.

    I would say the vast majority of the cars i've looked at have these kinds of people writing the adverts. I don't even entertain them.

    103BHP in a diesel hatchback the size of the A3 is just fine.
    It'll feel quite comparible to your Astra,
    Now that one depends.
    My mother for example would be quite happy with a car that couldn't do above 30mph as she just tootles along to the shops and back. However the car performs would be fine for her as she just wants to get from A to B.
    Standard, the 103bhp version, I wouldn't be happy with it. Remapped maybe but depends what it pushes out to and i don't just mean a bhp figure, i mean how that translates in to real world performance.
    I also don't want it to feel comparible or to feel quicker, i want it to BE quicker, noticeably so. I wouldn't even consider my car quick as to me it's not, although others have commented it is. Maybe to them it is but i'd just consider it a bit nippy, nothing more.

    benbay001 said:
    An old tech diesel with 103bhp in a mid size hatchback will be plenty quick enough for most people.
    BHP is argueably a meaningless figure for most people, as that power peak is usually produced at an RPM they rarely drive at.
    1) I agree totally. It would be plenty quick enough for most people. Most people aren't interested in something 'quick'. They just want to get from A to B and would prefer to have a nice shiny toy than one that's been used but is considerably quicker. They want to look good to the neighbours.

    2) Agreed it is a meaningless figure however i'm sure you get where i'm coming from with it? If I said for example that i was looking at a MK5 Golf for sale what does that even mean to you? Could be anything right? Doesn't even say whether it's diesel, petrol or whatever. Could be the R32, could be a 1.6.
    However if i say i was looking at the 103 (though isn't it the 105 in the Golf? Not sure but it doesn't matter) 1.9 TDI then anyone with an interest will know instantly what flavour i'm talking about and have an idea of the performance it has.


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