By now I had hoped I’d be able to give some sort of update to you all regarding my job situation, and by extension maybe there would have been some movement on the car front. Unfortunately this is yet to be the case; I won’t go into too much detail but essentially I am waiting to hear back on the assessment centre results for 2 graduate schemes, one is for an energy company and the other a large retailer I am very familiar with. Both jobs have their pro’s and con’s (ie location/salary/working patterns) but I feel it far more likely that I will get a yes in one of them. Sorry to be a bit cryptic but seeing as though I mentioned my blog on my CV there is always the possibility some background checker will stumble across this post!
Obviously if I am successful in getting onto a graduate scheme then I will be able to take a fresh look at car options because I’ll be more financially secure and could even look at a new car (as I’ve already discussed not too long ago). However equally a new job would throw up lots other considerations for me to look at – I mean one if not both of these jobs would require me to relocate, which brings plenty of other expenses, and even if I don’t have to relocate it is pretty certain that I’d have a significantly longer commute! All of this means that my previous ideas about cars have been tossed up in the air and I’ve been re-looking at my options (not a chore I have to admit…I’m my own worst enemy sometimes!).
The easiest way for me to surmise these ideas is going to be to write them down model-by-model in alphabetical order. This might be a pretty long-ass read for you all so feel free to skip to the bottom if you want to hear some garbled conclusions 🙂
I really love the Q5 and it is one of the few cars that it actually makes sense for me to buy; it’s not big yet commands a lot of presence with good tech and reasonable fuel economy. Unfortunately these talents mean that it remains really expensive to buy; £20k only fetches a high mileage automatic/S Line car and new ones are around £500 per month to buy. I won’t rule one out but realistically it is too much of a stretch.
The Q7 has soooo many negatives that it really doesn’t make any sense for me to buy one…but the fact I desperately want one means that it is still a strong contender. Basically it’s a big thirsty beast that is hard to park and expensive to tax, plus it eats tyres like I eat Haribo (ie ravenously!), plus whilst it is by no means the most expensive car on this list to buy prices for the earliest models still hover around the £14k mark, to my mind a little much for an 8 year old vehicle.
I havn’t really discussed the X1 in much detail before, mainly because of the fact I’ve not seriously considered it. Very cost efficient to run and not even too much to buy brand new, the X1 offers a decent way into BMW ownership. However is it really an SUV? It’s smaller than all the other cars here and most used vehicles lack AWD, as well as an automatic gearbox and navigation; by the time those are added to either a used or new car the prices jump significantly.
There have been 2 generations of X3; the current car is almost perfect but prices have yet to sink below £20k and deals on new cars are few and far between. The original was a much less well rounded car but is probably a more realistic option as prices are as low as £6k for the first cars. I hadn’t seriously considered the first X3 until recently because of it’s bad reputation for cheap interior and questionable looks, but the fact I could get a loaded 3.0sd example with a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds for around £13-14k makes it tempting, especially as it promises about 10mpg better than a comparable X5.
It seems pretty likely I could end up with a BMW X5 in some shape or form. The original is quite reasonably priced, not too uneconomical and is widely available…but has an air of chaviness surrounding it and given the fact that even the oldest cars are now approaching 10 years old it might not be my best bet. The second generation car is even nicer and comes with bags of extra technology but the prices reflect this…to get a 2008 car with cheaper road tax/more economical engine it seems to be around £16k for a decent one, more or less double the prices of first generation cars which are only 3 years older! I’ve got a lot of thinking to do when it comes to the Beemers.
Although they have very little in common, I have always associated the Ford Kuga with the Range Rover Sport in light of it’s aggressive/sporty styling and popularity with ‘yummy mummies’. The Kuga though is actually pretty fuel efficient, reliable and available well within my budget and whilst the Ford badge may not have as much kudos as the Range Rover’s in the car park it doesn’t do too badly. Why am I not entirely sold? Well IF I insist on getting an automatic car then those reasonable prices start to climb and become comparable to more premium rivals, plus it’s pretty small…the boot is smaller than the Focus for god’s sake!
Another mainstream compact SUV, the CR-V is the car that started this process off; I went from considering a cheapo second generation version to the popular third in a short space of time and from there came bigger dreams. But as with a lot of these smaller vehicles examples with both a diesel engine and an automatic gearbox are pretty rare, and to get one I’d need to stretch my budget much closer to £15k, and even if those cars are 2010 models it still seems a little much for a Honda with an odd face.
Hyundai Santa Fe:
I’ve always liked the second generation Santa Fe and the 2010 facelifted merely enhanced this appeal, but merely liking a car may not be quite enough for the Hyundai as it lacks a fair number of features I’d like, namely navigation! There is also the cheap cabin and unusual cabin layout to contend with, and as with the CR-V when all things are considered £15k for a car such as this doesn’t seem like such a good deal.
Sister car to the Santa Fe, this other big Korean is a car I’ve actually coveted since it’s launch back in 2011. This second generation has a pretty modern feature list, is cheap to run and in KX-3 spec gets a full equipment list and attractive alloy wheels which really bring the look together. However most people seem to agree with me, as even the cheapest KX-3 versions are in excess of £20k! That puts it up there with comparably aged second generation BMW X3’s which is not an easy place to be for anyone.
Land Rover Freelander:
The Freelander is yet another car I’ve not seriously considered because of it’s size and ‘bottom rung’ position on the Land Rover ladder. That’s a tad unfair though, because in addition to being the most economical and most car like Land Rover vehicle (besides the new Evoque) it is also the cheapest to buy both new and used. But, and this is a Kardashian-sized but, most Freelanders are pretty damn poor value when they are in automatic HSE guise, and those with the latest facelifted exterior and interior actually command prices in excess of £25k! That’s insane for a pretty dated car that’s ready to be replaced, even if those examples are only a year or two old.
Land Rover Discovery:
Winner of so many accolades it hurts, the Discovery is a car that even old-school petrol heads recommend to those looking for a practical family haul around that can double as a serious off-roader. The basic platform is now nearly 10 years old, and whilst still desirable the original ‘3’ models are starting to show their age in terms of engine performance and interior, and of course still have the traditional Land Rover reputation for awful reliability. The ‘4’ was introduced in 2010 and remedied many of these traits, but whilst the ‘3’ can be bought for just about £14k in a reasonable spec, a comparable ‘4’ would set me back well over £22k.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport:
Confession: if money were no object it would be the Range Rover Sport I would be buying. Aggressively styled and commanding to drive the Sport offers raw appeal that is hard to match. Yes the original V6 engine is a little slow but the V8’s are brutal, and the facelifted version brought a much improved V6 as well as a lovely new interior. Money is the issue when it comes to this vehicle though, as even pretty ropey 2005 Sports require £15k to get behind the wheel, with the first 2007 V8’s costing an extra £2k and the facelifted versions asking over £25k for what still hasn’t proved to be a particularly reliable vehicle either. Road tax is high too, and whilst the V8 is a diesel 20mpg is probably realistic (V8 petrols are going to return even less!), but as with the Q7 it’s charms are hard to rule out.
Land Rover Range Rover:
Ask me what my dream car is and I would state the Range Rover, not the Sport as I alluded to before but the full fat vehicle, as when I’m old enough to afford a brand new dream car the Sport will probably seem a little crass for my tastes. The full fat is well within my budget now though; 3.0 TD6 cars can be found for well under £10k and even the TDV8 shared with the Sport can be found under the bonnet of vehicles costing under £16k…a steal when you compare it to similarly aged Sports. Interior design and quality is beautiful and if nothing ends up going wrong then the ownership experience is only blighted by the hefty fuel bills and road tax. That’s a big if though…
Reliable to the extreme, the Lexus RX can often be found in hybrid guise for reasonable fuel economy and lower road tax prices. Inside equipment levels tend to be high and although the design is a little American and dated it still beats some vehicles here. My problem though is that the Lexus lacks pretty much any desirability for myself and as such comes across as a car I am not sure I’d ever be satisfied with.
The ML is a pretty good match for me, not an old design but still cheaper than comparably aged X5’s, plus the V6 diesel gives decent performance and not appalling fuel economy. My personal issue though is that the facelifted cars have a number of improvements that make them vastly more appealing (ie posh wheels and better nav system), and the fact they are not priced too far out of reach makes them tantalisingly close. The original versions start from around £10k for leggy high milers and the facelifed cars can be found from between £15k-£16k, and considering those vehicles are only 5-6 years old that doesn’t seem that bad. All ML’s though do fall foul of high road tax costs, apart from a few early examples, meaning that it is a little hard to justify the Merc over the X5 if they are at a similar price.
There isn’t really much sense in me choosing the GL over the ML besides snobbery and aesthetics; they are pretty much the same vehicle but the GL is bigger, more imposing and comes with an extra row of seats. I really like the bigger car to be honest but a 2007 GL is £17k, which would buy me a 2010 ML with improved interior and better fuel economy. Maybe next time though!
The only vehicle here I have actually driven, albeit it the throaty V8 petrol version, the Cayenne fills me with mixed feelings. It was admittedly amazing to drive, and whilst the running costs of the V8 worried me the V6 diesel is likely to be fairly economical and still able to offer decent turn of pace. Aesthetics are also improved, but the price is also dramatically higher when compared to earlier petrol cars; the £10k difference in price between a 2005 V8 and a 2008 diesel would pay for a lot of fuel…and road tax is even cheaper on the older model too!
The Tiguan strikes quite a good balance between the likes of the Kuga and CR-V against the might of the BMW X1/X3 and Audi Q5, at least in terms of desirability and performance if not price. As a concept the Tiguan is an attractive one, and prices aren’t even too horrific for automatic versions, many of which have sat nav. But for me the design both inside and out leaves a lot to be desired, and whilst the 2011 facelift remedied the exterior looks somewhat prices for those cars remain above £20k, and they are still stuck with that MPV like dashboard.
I go back and forth with my opinions of the Touareg, facelifted versions of the original car are actually pretty attractive and the updated version of the V6 engine remedies some of it’s mpg woes (and in some cases means cheaper road tax too), plus the interior looks great and comes highly specced. But it does have some gaping niggles, as even overlooking badge snobbery most models don’t have electric seats for some reason, and given that I didn’t get on especially well with the Cayenne I am slightly worried I wouldn’t like it’s sister vehicle. Second generation cars are a lot more modern and have caught my eye, but whilst £21k for a 2010 example isn’t too bad it is still too much for me.
Another car I havn’t paid too much attention to, I had always assumed that the XC60 would be too expensive given it’s popularity and posh image. However that doesn’t appear to be the case; 2008 versions of the Swede can be had for around £12k, and it’s only if you want the (admittedly desirable) R Design cars that things start to get a little pricey. Interior quality is good and design outstanding, even if cabin tech is lags quite far behind rivals, but the Volvo image and specifically the XC60’s female-based customer demographic shrink it’s appeal a fair bit.
Probably the only vehicle I would seriously consider new, the XC90 is a beast nearing the end of it’s long life but that means great deals. The car itself is a decent one I guess-quite attractive and high quality if dated inside, and the fact I’d be able to spec my own is appealing (black wheels would be a certainty!), but the navigation is so poor I’d skip it and the engine is nowhere near competitive in performance terms. I could buy used, but my money would probably only get me a low specced 2009/10 model or maybe a nicer pre facelift 2007/8 car. The best used deal I’ve seen is £9k down then £200/month for 2 years, not too bad at all but the £15k final payment would likely be difficult for me to find.
Well there you have it, my garbled summary of vehicles I’d be rather happy to see on my driveway. If I end up with no new job offers then I’ll likely stick to something like the original BMW X5 until I am able to progress further with my career. If I end up with a long commute or moving away and paying rent then something more economical like a BMW X1 is more likely, but if I end up working relatively close to home then I will hopefully stretch myself to something a little bigger 😀