Who has What Car? helped this month – July 2017

Readers contact our Helpdesk every day with questions and appeals for help with car-related problems. Here are their stories...

Seat Ateca SUV for dad-to-be

One reader wonders what is the best family car for him to buy

I currently drive an Audi TT, but my wife is pregnant with twins, which are due in July, so I need to change my TT for a safe, practical family car. I will use the car for my daily 45-mile motorway commute to work and to transport the family at weekends, so it needs to be economical and roomy. So, what is the best family sized car for around £20,000?

Steven Kenney

What Car? says...

We’d recommend an SUV, because it will provide all the space and practicality of a family hatchback plus rear seats that are positioned higher up, making it easier to get child seats and children in and out.

We think the Seat Ateca is one of the best. In fact, it beat our long-term favourite, the Nissan Qashqai, at the 2017 What Car? Awards to win the title of Small SUV of the Year.

The Ateca shares most of its mechanical bits with the Volkswagen Tiguan but is cheaper to buy and still well equipped. All Atecas get alloy wheels, LED lights, low speed automatic emergency braking and a touchscreen infotainment system with steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls. Mid-level SE Technology trim adds a reversing camera and better infotainment with sat-nav and a digital radio.

The 1.4-litre petrol is our pick of the engines because it’s stronger yet just as frugal as the 1.0-litre, and cheaper than the 1.6-litre diesel. It should get more than 50mpg on your motorway commute, and that figure shouldn’t drop too much when you’re driving in town.

What Car?’s Target Price shows that you should be able to get a 1.4 TSI Ateca in SE trim for around £20,000, although expect to pay £23,000 or so if you go for SE Technology.

Who has What Car? helped this month – July 2017

Which is the best small hybrid?

Reader wants to go hybrid - which car should he buy?

I wish to trade in my car for a small hybrid model. Which one would you recommend?

Kenneth Bromwich

What Car? says...

There are a growing number of small hybrid cars around. Two of our favourites are the BMW i3 Range Extender and the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.

The i3 Range Extender uses a two-cylinder petrol engine to add another 80 miles to its electric motor’s 124-mile range. That doesn’t give it as long a range as a conventional petrol-engined car, but according to the official figures it should return an average of 85mpg. While the i3 has a decent amount of space up front, it’s fairly cramped for back-seat passengers and the boot isn’t huge. What the little BMW hybrid does have, though, is agile handling, futuristic styling and a smart, user-friendly interior.

It doesn’t come cheap, though: the i3 Range Extender will cost more than £31,000 new, even after you’ve factored in the government grant. The recently updated Yaris Hybrid is a more affordable option, with the cheapest new models costing around £16,000. Toyota has been a pioneer of hybrids and this compact hatchback, which is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, is cheap to run and sprightly enough for busy urban traffic.

The Yaris Hybrid comes well equipped with plenty of safety kit, including low-speed automatic emergency braking, and being a Toyota, it’s likely to be reliable.

If you’re not wedded to the idea of buying a brand new car, it’s worth seeking out a second-hand example, because small hybrids lose value quicker than their regular counterparts. Settle for a 2014 i3 Range Extender with about 50,000 miles and it should only cost around £15,000, while a Yaris of the same age with less than 20,000 miles should be less than £10,000.

Who has What Car? helped this month – July 2017

Pre-emptive EV home charger

Can you get an electric charging point installed before getting an electric car?

I don’t own an electric car, but I would like one in the future. Should I get a charging point installed at my home now while the cost seems relatively low?

Simon Wickers

What Car? says...

At present, you can get a grant of up to £500 to cover 75% of the cost of installing an electric vehicle (EV) home charging point from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). Its Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme aims to help people to offset some of the upfront costs of buying and installing a home charging point. However, this grant is only available to people who already own, lease or have primary use of an EV, so you won’t be eligible until you’ve changed your car.

When you do own an eligible car, you can expect to pay around £200 (after the government grant) for a 3kW charger, which will recharge the batteries of a small electric car, such as a Nissan Leaf, in six to eight hours. A more powerful 7kW charger that will fully recharge batteries in four hours will cost around £350. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to have suitable off-street parking at the point where the charger will be installed, and an OLEV approved installer must carry out the work.

Find out about the EV homecharge scheme

Who has What Car? helped this month – July 2017

Confusion over new tax for £40k-plus cars

What's the deal with new car tax rates for expensive electric cars?

I’m confused by the changes to the cost of road tax that happened in April. What will I pay if, in two years’ time, I buy a second-hand premium electric car, such as a Tesla Model S, that originally had a list price of more than £40,000?

Rachel Seymour

What Car? says...

As of now, if you buy a Model S that was first registered before 1 April 2017, you won’t have to pay any vehicle excise duty (VED). However, if you buy one registered after that date, you will have to pay the new premium tax rate of £310 per year until it’s six years old. Under the current rules, taxing it will be free once it’s seven years old. See our full guide to car tax for more info.

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