First car - Motorway driving - okay91

Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase my first car, which will mostly be used as a motorway commuter car, commuting roughly 100 miles a day.

I'm aware larger diesel cars can be more economical travelling at high speeds, but I have to balance this with the fact I'm a new driver (held licence for 1 year and 25 years old).

In terms of budget, I'm willing to spend up to £5000 on the right car, if it has a relatively good sell on value, as I may work abroad in the next 1-2 years.

Can anyone recommend a car that fulfills the above criteria? Should I stick to a small car or take a hit on insurance to get a better MPG?

Cheers

Oliver

First car - Motorway driving - SLO76
Quite challenging this one. You need a motor that's economical and cheap to insure but also something that's capable of a long motorway commute and despite the high estimated 30,000mile annual usage you also want low depreciation. Not asking much eh?

We had a similar shopping list a couple of years back with a 70mile commute and a need for something compact for city parking but also capable of holding its own on the motorway. It had to be a supermini really but also needed to take a fairly large pray with the parcel shelf in place for safety sake.

I decided on diesel for economy, midrange overtaking performance and because of its high speed refinement due to taller gearing. Most small petrol superminis are quite low geared and can become quite tiresome at higher speeds plus economy suffers as you approach 70mph or so.

After spending ages dithering I eventually settled on a 37,000 mile 2012 VW Polo 1.2 TDi Match which ticked all our boxes. High speed stability is excellent while ride comfort is high for a supermini and the 3cyl turbo diesel has far more pulling power than the equivalent 1.2 or 1.4 normally asperated petrols that were around at similar money at the time. The newer 1.2 TSi petrol is the best engine but they were thousands dearer and well beyond your budget here.

Despite the emissions scandal diesel Polos hold their money well, are generally reliable and pleasant to drive. The only weakness is low speed turbo lag which can catch you out at busy junctions if you're not fully awake. Our wee car cost me £7,000 and I've every confidence I could see £5,500 back on it after almost two years and 25,000miles (we did less than expected) most of which was done at 60mpg so I'd say it's certainly cheap motoring. It's not been without problems but they've all been minor and fixed quickly by our excellent local main dealer.

The Skoda Fabia and Seat Ibiza are mechanically identical and also available with this engine for less money but they drop harder when it comes time to sell on so you need to factor this in. Plus they're due a timing belt at 5yrs so watch this has been done or factor in £300-£400 to do it.

However I'm loathed to point you in the direction of a DPF equipped car at this sort of money as this technology can be a pain as it ages and VW aren't the best regarding DPF issues. The non-turbo petrol models are too sluggish to recommend for motorway use which is a shame because it's an otherwise excellent little car and always easy to sell on.

Good petrol alternatives would be the Mazda 2 1.3, Toyota Yaris 1.3 and Suzuki Swift 1.2 all of which are mechanically robust, economical and also plentiful at your budget. None of them are as stable, economical or as comfortable as the Polo at speed but they perform better than the weak petrol engines in the VW.

Whatever you do though avoid the weak 1.6 PSA diesel as used in the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Mazda 2 and a number of other cars and the 1.3 Fiat diesel in the Punto and Corsa. Both are more trouble than they're worth.



Edited by SLO76 on 03/05/2017 at 21:47

First car - Motorway driving - glidermania

Id stick with petrol even doing a 100 mile daily commuteand probably go for a decent spec Vauxhall Astra. But, the reality is everyone has a different opinion and personal preferences come into it.

First car - Motorway driving - drd63

I'm using Toyota Aygo at the moment, seems perfectly at home on mway commute, 96 miles each way, keeps up with traffic flow on fast bits of M40 and although 4th gear often needed is giving 52mpg. It was bought as a family station car but delays in getting everyday car have seen it pressed into uses outside of expected comfort zone.

First car - Motorway driving - okay91

I'm using Toyota Aygo at the moment, seems perfectly at home on mway commute, 96 miles each way, keeps up with traffic flow on fast bits of M40 and although 4th gear often needed is giving 52mpg. It was bought as a family station car but delays in getting everyday car have seen it pressed into uses outside of expected comfort zone.

This sounds extremely impressive, I didn't think an Aygo would be so easy going at such high speeds. Does it remain comfortable and stable at around 70mph?

First car - Motorway driving - okay91

I don't think I'm being fussy at all!!! I know beggars can't be choosers, but I would love some sort of compremise...

Thanks for sharing your experience, I have always been drawn to a Polo but have had some reservations about its peformance, especially MPG at higher speeds. I'm pleased you can allay some of these fears!

Do you happen to know how I can identify the models with faulty DPF technology?

Edited by okay91 on 04/05/2017 at 11:14

First car - Motorway driving - SLO76
"Do you happen to know how I can identify the models with faulty DPF technology?"

All Mk V Polo Diesels have a DPF and while they give less trouble than earlier DPF equipped VW's they're still prone to sooting up. With your usage you should be fine though. As for spotting trouble. Check the DPF light comes on with the ignition then goes out after the engine has started. If it doesn't appear the filter may have been removed and the car remapped which is illegal or the illuminated DPF lamp may have been covered from behind the dash.

It's best if you can find one that hasn't had the emissions update done. This reduces low speed fueling and increases turbo lag plus increases the frequency of DPF regens which could reduce its lifespan. Ignore any correspondence from VW telling you to have it done. They send quite official looking notifications with DVSA headings to scare you into allowing it. You see no benefit from it what so ever and you're not legally obliged to do it. It's not a disaster by any means, mine has been done and the difference isn't huge. Once it's up and rolling you really notice no difference. It's just at very low speed.

As far as economy is concerned. I average high 50's day to day but this is with a heavy right foot. If it stay below 70mph it'll exceed 65mpg and if you really try it'll break 70mpg.

I like the Seat Ibiza Estate with this engine too. It is a very practical and cheap to run little car which is also cheaper to buy than the equivalent Polo which you tend to find the diesels only come in the higher specs. The Ibiza can be had in more basic form.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/05/2017 at 11:26

First car - Motorway driving - SLO76
Out of curiosity where are you located? Makes a big deference on available choice.
First car - Motorway driving - okay91

Good tips about DPF, I'll be sure to test.

I'm located in North London, but will be commuting into Herts

Edited by okay91 on 04/05/2017 at 13:56

First car - Motorway driving - SLO76
Spotted a few worthy options in your area.

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Edited by SLO76 on 04/05/2017 at 14:54

First car - Motorway driving - okay91

Great help, thanks!

First car - Motorway driving - Engineer Andy

I'm not being nosy, but where are you commuting from/to? 50 miles each way is a long way into Hertfordshire (I live on its outskirts the drive to my parents' house in the south of the county is only 35 miles) - have you considered commuting by train? Not cheap I know, but driving up the M11, A1, A41 or M1 can be a real pain sometimes in the rush hour (depending on where you're going to, especially if you have to use the M25).

It often depends on whether your location station is one that can connect to the main commuter route to the outer areas of the county (a reasonably quick journey), or one that you have to get on slow trains running to the southern parts and change onto another slow train (a very slow journey). I had to turn down jobs in north London for that reason, but commuting in the opposite direction (it was far quicker to commute to central London, sometimes by 30 mins).

If its a new job and it works out, I would seriously consider moving much nearer to the office location, as, for the most part, the housing will be cheaper than London, the commute will be far less in terms of distance/time and will mean you'll be quids in with more free time. You could then consider (before moving) either a short term public transport option (if feasible - may not be) or buying a petrol-engined car, costing more to run intitially than a diesel, but if you moved home closer to work not that long after buying it, then it would be a wise buy, along with the better longer-term reliability that comes with them. I did that with my Mazda3 (had the option of buying petrol or diesel for a 75 mile round trip, then moved out and that reduced the commute to 40 miles each day).

Just a thought.

First car - Motorway driving - okay91

I'm not being nosy, but where are you commuting from/to? 50 miles each way is a long way into Hertfordshire (I live on its outskirts the drive to my parents' house in the south of the county is only 35 miles) - have you considered commuting by train? Not cheap I know, but driving up the M11, A1, A41 or M1 can be a real pain sometimes in the rush hour (depending on where you're going to, especially if you have to use the M25).

It often depends on whether your location station is one that can connect to the main commuter route to the outer areas of the county (a reasonably quick journey), or one that you have to get on slow trains running to the southern parts and change onto another slow train (a very slow journey). I had to turn down jobs in north London for that reason, but commuting in the opposite direction (it was far quicker to commute to central London, sometimes by 30 mins).

If its a new job and it works out, I would seriously consider moving much nearer to the office location, as, for the most part, the housing will be cheaper than London, the commute will be far less in terms of distance/time and will mean you'll be quids in with more free time. You could then consider (before moving) either a short term public transport option (if feasible - may not be) or buying a petrol-engined car, costing more to run intitially than a diesel, but if you moved home closer to work not that long after buying it, then it would be a wise buy, along with the better longer-term reliability that comes with them. I did that with my Mazda3 (had the option of buying petrol or diesel for a 75 mile round trip, then moved out and that reduced the commute to 40 miles each day).

Just a thought.

I'll be commuting from North London to Royston. I've tried trains and as you mentioned they are extremely expensive, unreliable and inflexible. Fortunately, I will be able to avoid the M25 and I will be heading in the opposite direction of most commuter traffic. In term of motorway, I will have the pick of M11, A10 and the A1(M). As things stand I will only be doing this commute for a year, after which I can take a view on whether or not to move closer or change working location

First car - Motorway driving - Engineer Andy

I'll be commuting from North London to Royston. I've tried trains and as you mentioned they are extremely expensive, unreliable and inflexible. Fortunately, I will be able to avoid the M25 and I will be heading in the opposite direction of most commuter traffic. In term of motorway, I will have the pick of M11, A10 and the A1(M). As things stand I will only be doing this commute for a year, after which I can take a view on whether or not to move closer or change working location

Given I live in Royston (for 11 years), if you need any tips or advice about the commute or town, let me know. You may even be working round the corner from where I live, given its near the main industrial estate. House/flats aren't too expensive in the vicinity (avoiding village), including Baldock and Letchworth, which aren't too far away by car or train (not so expensive, roughly the same cost if you factor in all car costs, including depreciation).

I'm not sure which part of North London you're coming from, but if I recall, the A10 up to Cheshunt/bit further north can be quite busy in the rush hour, the A1 not so bad except for the (stupid) 3 lane to 2 lane stretch from Welwyn to Stevenage North; the M11 (up to Duxford - don't go via the A120 - its really bad going through Little Hadham in the rush hour), the A505), well, can be fine or, like the M25, attrocious if there's an accident on any of these roads.

A couple of other snippets of info that may be useful - in case (hopefully not) of car problems, Royston has 3 car main dealerships in town: Vauxhall, Ford and KIA, plus a few independents (including a specialist Alfa repair/servicing shop) dotted about with the tyre fitters. Quite a few not to far away from the A1 if you go that route (e.g. in Stevenage or Letchworth).

Best of luck on the car and job.

First car - Motorway driving - Big John

Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase my first car, which will mostly be used as a motorway commuter car, commuting roughly 100 miles a day.

I'm aware larger diesel cars can be more economical travelling at high speeds, but I have to balance this with the fact I'm a new driver (held licence for 1 year and 25 years old).

In terms of budget, I'm willing to spend up to £5000 on the right car, if it has a relatively good sell on value, as I may work abroad in the next 1-2 years.

Can anyone recommend a car that fulfills the above criteria? Should I stick to a small car or take a hit on insurance to get a better MPG?

Cheers

Oliver

Don't buy too small (eg Panda) - too tiring for 100 miles a day

The budget is getting you close to a new Dacia Sandero (with a good 3 year 60k warranty) - Remember at 100 miles a day during the week over 2 years thats about 50k miles

Used - £5k is a difficult budget -

I'd worry about a diesel - easy to buy someones problem - DPF's etc become more problematic as the miles pile on

VAG tsi economical (I get 46mpg out of a Skoda Superb 1.4) but earlier versions of this engine had some issues which put's it right in the middle of your budget - insurance may also be an issue

Stage left suggestion - in 2011 Skoda did a special offer Skoda Octavia 1.6 SE that now fits within your budget. Really comfortable, suprisingly cheap insurance (no turbo) and real life economy better than official (see HJ Real MPG - on a run you will get over 40mpg). The engine is also bullet proof although worth negotiating a cam belt change as part of a deal

other possibilities - Hyundai I30, Toyota Auris, Kia Ceed

Edited by Big John on 03/05/2017 at 23:58

First car - Motorway driving - okay91

Thanks everyone for the help, I appreciate it!

Has anyone had any thoughts about the proposed extension of the low emmision zone in London, which will eventually cover all current diesel cars? Will this drive down diesel prices in the short term or should I stay well clear of them?

First car - Motorway driving - Terry W

I would suggest you go for something between VW Golf and Mondeo size for motorway comfort and likely to be far less stressed on motorway than Aygo etc.

With a limited budget I would be inclined towards the non-premium brands - you will get more car for your cash with a lower mileage.

But whatever you buy for £5k is likely to be 5-8 years old with 40-80k on the clock. Adding 30k a year will rapidly reduce the value and saleability - in two years time you will have an (say) 7 year old car with 100-140k - difficult to sell except for peanuts.

First car - Motorway driving - Andrew-T

But whatever you buy for £5k is likely to be 5-8 years old with 40-80k on the clock. Adding 30k a year will rapidly reduce the value and saleability - in two years time you will have an (say) 7 year old car with 100-140k - difficult to sell except for peanuts.

With all the topics in the air just now, you'll need to ask someone with a particularly good crystal ball to tell you which car will not depreciate much, with the mileage you are planning.

First car - Motorway driving - Avant

SLO's suggesttion all look like good ones if you decide to go for diesel: but I'm personally not convinced that you should.

Any secondhand car carries risks: you can reduce them by ensuring that you buy something with a full service history, but you can't know how well the car has been treated by its previous owner(s). If a diesel engine goes wrong, it can be very expensive to repair.

I'd suggest a Toyota Yaris 1.3 (not the 1.0 which is a slug) or the Mazda 2 1.3 or 1.5, both petrols. Not sure about the Mazda, but there should be Yarises within budget that have a 6-speed gearbox, which will aid economy on motorways.

And if the Press keep on sensationalising the problems with diesels, they won't go on holding their value as well as cars like SLO's diesel Polo currently do.

First car - Motorway driving - SLO76
Normally I'd be the first to direct people on such a limited budget away from diesel but in this case the very high mileage and higher speed usage suits a diesel more in my opinion.

I agree totally Avant that the Mazda 2 and Yaris 1.3 will both be the safest bet (I've linked one of each) but pile the guts of 30k a year on either and it'll collapse in value while the likes of a Polo diesel even with a six figure mileage will always sell for reasonable money.

Though this OP should possibly be concerned about future legislation banning diesels from cities. It's unlikely to cripple values as few buy small diesel cars for city driving specifically.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/05/2017 at 17:35

 

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