Yes, you can buy the cheapest car but you will pay for it in other ways
Do the sums: only if the figures add up do you go for diesel and there’s great value to be had second hand
Older wiser: For the most of us who use cars for a commute, for shopping, for the daily grind, we can make our money go much farther by buying a slightly used car
How to save your motoring money in 2013? You buy a Dacia Sandero 1.2 for €9,990. Job done. Well, not quite but there is a perception out there that simply by finding the cheapest new car, with the smallest engine, your motoring budget will suddenly balance.
Sadly, things are never that simple and while there are many ways to save money on sections of your motoring budget, there are an equal number of pitfalls. For instance, take the above mentioned Sandero. Yes, it’s cheap, as a small and therefore mostly frugal engine and for an extra €300 you can extend its warranty from three years to five, which should give you some peace of mind.
Of course, if you’re someone who does regular long motorway trips, then forget it. The base Sandero’s 1.2 petrol engine simply can’t cope and your fuel bills will rocket.
Quite apart from the fact it’s not especially Co2 efficient, which means you’ll pay more for motor tax than if you’d gone for the 895cc TCe turbo petrol or the 1.5 dCi diesel. Both of which cost more to buy, though, so, oh dear, now your calculations have gone right out the window.
Sorry about that, but there simply is no one-size-fits-all cost reduction regime for motoring, no four-wheeled Operation Transformation.
What you have to do is figure out exactly what your driving needs are, what your driving habits are and how much leeway you need around your normal driving regime to find the right car at the right cost with the right running costs.
So, if you live in town, drive mostly only in town and don’t do high mileage, forget diesel. I know, it’s a risk – the Irish market is diesel obsessed at the moment (although petrol sales have begun to make a small rally) and I do know people who bought perfectly serviceable petrol versions of popular cars a few years back and cannot sell them on.
Extra purchase cost
Still though, the extra purchase cost of pretty much every diesel model versus its petrol stablemates is a figure worth paying rapt attention to. You need to sit down, do your sums on mileage versus fuel cost and see exactly how many litres of diesel the saving on the new price will buy you.
You might also need to factor in the fact that you can likely haggle a bit more off the price of a petrol-engined car, new or used.
If you do regular long journeys then yes, diesel is the way to go, without question. But even then, some careful shopping is needed.
We’ve all read in the past few weeks how the car makers are massaging their fuel consumption figures, so you’ve got to shop carefully to make sure you’re not getting bitten once you get up and driving.