My old 4×4 Mitsubishi Shogun Sport that I bought back in 2006 was beginning to look a little worse for wear. Living where we do by the sea, anything metal tends to rust quite readily. Rust spots and stains show up quite well on a white car too so it was looking a little old and tired. I also didn’t really need a big, smelly, dirty 4×4 anymore as we don’t tend to go away on windsurfing trips like we used to do and I don’t even head off into the hills mountain-biking much these days. As far as the four-wheel drive abilities go, then I did use them a fair bit whilst windsurfing and therefore driving and parking on the soft sands of the estuary, but I don’t do that much these days and it isn’t completely necessary even if I do want to. The 4×4 abilities were nice to have but not essential for me.
We were therefore beginning to think about down-sizing a little. I still wanted a car a little larger than Anna’s Honda Jazz so that we could use it for long weekends away and camping trips. It would also be useful if I could still get my bike and windsurfing kit in it should I want to. With that in mind though I should still be able to get away with a decent sized MPV rather than a big 4×4 truck. The idea therefore was to look out for an MPV and hopefully reduce some of the costs associated with motoring at the same time. The theory was that I should be able to find something that was cheaper to tax, cheaper to insure and less thirsty on fuel too. My Shogun cost £280 a year to tax, close to £200 a year to insure and did about 30mpg with it’s 2.5 litre diesel engine.
I was particularly looking for a diesel Ford C-Max as it looked about the right size, was only £30 a year to tax, in a low insurance band and was supposed to get around 60mpg. Other’s on the radar were the Vauxhall Meriva, the Renault Scenic and possibly the Kia Carens. I wasn’t ruling any others out either, but the main plan was a second hand Ford C-Max or something similar. So, we started to shop around.
There isn’t a huge amount of choice in the Aberystwyth area when it comes to buying second hand cars, but I had put some feelers out there and had let the dealers know what I was after so they could keep an eye out for me. I also thought I’d check to see how much MOT my Shogun had just so that I could find out how much it was worth. I thought it was MOT’d until June for some reason but when I checked at the weekend I noticed that the MOT had expired back in February – Not again, I did that last year as well!! Oops!
This suddenly meant that getting a new car was a matter of some urgency. Yes, I could have MOT’d the Shogun but that may have cost some money, so trading it in and getting something new was probably the best thing to do. It may not have been the best thing financially as it probably would have worked out better to get it MOT’d first and then to sell it privately, but that’s a fair amount of work and hassle and there were other issues with the car other than the MOT that made it a little bit of a pain to own. Such as the catch on boot getting jammed all the time which often resulted in large items being stuck in the car for a few days with us unable to get them out! We bought a new lawn-mower a few weeks ago and ended up not being able to use it for a couple of weeks as it was stuck in the boot of the car!
A newer, fully functioning car was the way to go, but choice in Aberystwyth was limited. I had the option of a 2007 Seat Altea that looked really nice, but the price was £5,495 and the garage that was selling it would only give me £1,000 for my Shogun. That meant I’d have to find £4,500 to buy it, although I’m sure I could have got that down to £4,000. There was also a 2007 Citroen Picasso C4 that looked nice and was being sold at £5,750. The dealer selling it dropped that price to £5,000 straight away as soon as I was interested in it and offered me £2,000 for mine.
This is where I want to go off on a rant about 2nd hand car dealers. I won’t say too much but why is it that you always feel as though you are being ripped off by them? Surely there must be a way for them to sell 2nd hand cars where everyone, buyer, seller and car dealer end up feeling happy with the deal but it never seems that way. Clearly this Citroen wasn’t worth the £5,750 it was advertised at and the fact that he gave me £2,000 for my car not the £1,000 other dealers were offering probably meant that the Citroen was really only worth around £4,000. All the same, it would still mean that if I could fine £3,000 the car could be mine – that was quite a lot less than the £4,500 I needed for the Seat. I took it for a test drive and got the thumbs up from Anna and Morgan. It was OK to drive, nothing special, just OK, but it felt roomy, had loads of boot space and quite a high driving position and a lot of height in the boot for a bike too. The styling looked good too and it looked as though it was in pretty much perfect condition.
We slept on it but decided to go for it as we didn’t really have much choice or much time to play with. It wasn’t quite what we were looking for as it didn’t really help with the cost of motoring as it is almost as expensive to run. For some reason, the annual tax is still £260. It’s mpg figures aren’t much better than my old Shogun either, but it is petrol not diesel so should be a little cheaper fuel-wise. Insurance should be a little less expensive as well.
I’m hoping I’ve done the right thing and so far the car seems nice. I haven’t driven it much yet though as I need to get it taxed first. That is going to set me back £260 on top of the £3,000 I’ve just spent on it but hopefully as I drive it more and get to grips with it it will soon start to feel like mine and I’ll grow to love it. The spending doesn’t stop there though as I bought a few cleaning products for it from Halfords yesterday so that I can at least look after it and keep it looking new, and no doubt I shall need a few things like floor mats too.
I don’t know if we’ll fit a roofrack to it yet as that is never cheap and I’ve also discovered that the really nice Saris Bones bike rack that I have won’t it on it either. In fact no rear-mounted bike rack will so that’s a bit of a problem that I should have thought of before buying it but you can’t think of everything. Ideally I would have had more time to shop around and think about such things, but it is done now and I have a nice new shiny Citroen Picasso C4 on the driveway.
It looks nice from the outside and has some cool little features too. The safety aspects of it are top notch with loads of airbags, isofix rear seats and such like which is quite an upgrade over my Shogun.. Although saying that, the Shogun was quite beefy so would probably have fared quite well against most other cars! Other safety features include things like ABS, ESP, ASR and plenty of other three-letter things that I don’t really understand! It has a much more modern feel as well with it’s large digital display, trip computers and a huge panoramic windscreen. The seats are comfortable as is the driving position and it has really good visibility even from the back seats. There’s also plenty of storage options which is always good and best of all so far everything seems to work. It even has cruise control and a speed limiter although how often I’ll use those remains to be seen. It’s MOT history suggests that there has been little wrong with it mechanically and with only 25,000 miles on the clock hopefully it’ll stay that way for some time to come.
As I said earlier, I never quite trust 2nd hand car dealers so I’m still expecting to find something wrong with it. I guess you are always fairly nervous when spending this amount of money on anything as well, never quite sure that you’ve done the right thing, but at the same time it’ll be nice to have anew car to get used to as well. Morgan seems quite excited about it for some reason – who knows, he might even help me clean and wax it once or twice!