BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - johnlondon

Hey all,

I've got a £15k budget for a new (2nd hand!) car. I've been looking at the following:

  • BMW 3 series Touring M Sport (05-12)
  • Mercedes C220 CDI Estate (2008 > ...I think)
  • Audi A4 Avant (Either Black Edition or S-Line)

So mainly estates. I need enough boot space to bung a big pram, flat pram seat thingy and shopping in the boot. Good MPG is required as I'll be doing motorway stints from London to Manchester. 4 doors required due to a child seat (baby included!) so rear space doesn't have to be suitable for 6ft adults as it's mainly gonna be me, the wife and the step daughter (along with the new baby).

Any solid advice/experience with the above or solid gems I've missed off the list? I want as new and as technology filled as possible. Mileage preferably below 60k.

Lemme know what you think

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - confusedbuyer

Have you considered the 'middle-class' tier as my Dad would call them?

Volvo V60

Skoda Octavia/Superb

Mazda 6

Vw Passat

As someone who has the V40 diesel it was an excellent car and great at the London-Manc drive. Pretty sure all three could carry a years warranty+ and would be packed with tech to compensate for the respective badges vs the three you have identified above?

I'd probably personally go with the V60 or the 6, depending on your priorities (comfort v zoom zoom) and relative exclusivity of both too.

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - barney100

Have you could considered a Volvo V70 deisel? For £15k you could get a good one, solid as a rock, easy to drive long distances and good MPG and swallows good loads.

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - daveyjp
If I had £15k and wanted a diesel I would disregard the marque and buy the newest I could to avoid potential issues with DPFs on older diesels.

At 5 years plus old you have to expect at some point a bill for DPF work. On a German brand it will not be cheap. A colleague has just spent £1500 on his 320d for new DPF and associated sensors.
BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - Engineer Andy

Hey all,

I've got a £15k budget for a new (2nd hand!) car. I've been looking at the following:

  • BMW 3 series Touring M Sport (05-12)
  • Mercedes C220 CDI Estate (2008 > ...I think)
  • Audi A4 Avant (Either Black Edition or S-Line)

So mainly estates. I need enough boot space to bung a big pram, flat pram seat thingy and shopping in the boot. Good MPG is required as I'll be doing motorway stints from London to Manchester. 4 doors required due to a child seat (baby included!) so rear space doesn't have to be suitable for 6ft adults as it's mainly gonna be me, the wife and the step daughter (along with the new baby).

Any solid advice/experience with the above or solid gems I've missed off the list? I want as new and as technology filled as possible. Mileage preferably below 60k.

Lemme know what you think

Are your trips up north very regular? Its worth you telling us a) what your estimated annual mileage will be, and what type of journeys will that consist of. If its below 20k pa, then a petrol-engined car may, over the long term (how long do you envisage keeping it, baring in mind you'll need to fund the replaecment, and if you're going to do 25k+ miles pa, then you won't get much for the current car after 3-5 years of ownership) be more cost-effective, especially when you factor in the high cost of parts on modern diesels, which are more susceptible to going wrong during the first 5-7 years of life than in petrol-engined cars (though not all). You may find some of them are that bad as mpg is concerned.

You'll need to factor in servicing, insurance, VED and repairs (parts failures and consumable, like tyres), none of whom will be cheap (OK with VED except on the really flashy versions) on German marques. Don't forget that cars that cost £30k - £45k when new come with running costs (not just fuel) proportionate to their original RRP. If you can't afford to run them, factoring in at least one big bill (say £1k+) for repairs over a 3 year period, then go for the 'middle-of-the-road' makes and/or the reliable (but often dull) Oriental makes.

Also, buying a premium (not necessarily of enginering quality, just fit and finish, performance/handling and styling) car also comes with a very firm ride due to the ultra low profile tyres. Not only will these be extortionate to replace (and won't likely last more than 20k miles), they may not give a comfortable ride on longer journeys and often contribute to higher instances of suspension parts failures, as they have to do far more of the work due to the lower cushioning effect of the tyres. Models with 55 profile tyres and higher may be more suitable for use on longer journeys and on our pothole-ridden roads (also far cheaper to replace and last longer).

I would also go for an extended test drive on a variety of different types of roads (whatever you whittle any final list down to) before you buy, and if your wife is going to be driving it as well, make sure both of you get a crack behind the wheel and as a passenger. I would also reconsider wanting 'all the toys' unless you are buying new and can afford the high running costs of such cars (see above) - do you want a reliable and comfortable newer car, or a flashy, older car that might let you (work) or your family down and burn a big hole in your wallet, money that could be better spent on your family generally.

Be careful not to be suckered into the marketing speil of the German marques and buying for image (which you're pay a big premium over others) over real engineering quality.

You may also find that some hatchback/saloon cars have very large boots and may be worth a look over estates, which often come at a premium. Just make sure larger items can fit through the boot apertures (they can be quite small on some saloons, despite the large boot capacity) by taking such items (prams, buggies, bikes, luggage, etc) with you to the showroom. It would certainly be rather embarrassing to find out just as you pack the car for a trip/holiday that those sort of items won't fit through or the boot is too small or oddly shaped and won't all fit in). Same goes for mounting any child's car seats.

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - johnlondon

Hey again

Unsure on mileage. Trips up north will be at least once a month - factoring in other trips around (I see visiting her family down south becoming very common, along with all the other stuff a new baby entails!). So at least 6500 miles to do the drives up north per year with an additional 50-60 miles per trip for seeing friends, etc. Everything down here will add about 500-600 a month. So I'd be comfortable saying 15k miles at most. Given that I currently own a Lexus IS250 that struggles to break 20mpg in town...any of the above cars is considerably better in every situation for MPG.

Thankfully, I don't need to factor in any VED, insurance or servicing as none of those are a financial struggle for me. Besides, the VED even on the 3 litre is only £150 a year.

A set of tyres would set me back about £700 for all 4 corners. I don't consider that too bad for circa 20k+ miles of use. I'm not very heavy footed :)

I've already said what car I want, they're listed above - I'd hardly consider any of them old though? Most have mileage hovering between 35 and 60k, not really a stretch on a big displacement diesel, wouldn't you agree? So surely reliability can't be that much of a worry...unless I'm missing something? Getting to work won't be an issue, I've got three motorbikes for that! :)

Other cars I wouldn't mind throwing into the mix would be good hybrids. I'll be doing some research on Lexus models this evening.

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - SLO76
If you can afford to buy a good approved used example and are willing and able to shell out for main dealer servicing and repairs then they are genuinely nice cars to drive and sit in.

General reliability is nowhere near as good as image suggests largely due to sheer complexity but this falls off a cliff if non-franchise garages are used to maintain them as they simply do not have the expertise or equipment to do so effectively. Use the incorrect grade of oil and you’ll kill it in no time. If you have a genuine and well respected specialist nearby they may be worthy but again these guys tend to be no cheaper than main dealers if manufacturer parts are used.

BMW 4cyl diesels (and petrols for that matter) are prone to timing chain issues while the sixes seem much better in terms of durability, DPF problems are more common than most and suspension and trim issues again worse than most. Merc are nothing like as well built as they were in the 80’s/early 90’s, with electrical problems common but the engines and gearboxes are generally good. Dealers are appallingly overpriced though for work.

Lexus hybrids are smooth are usually utterly reliable but on distance runs they’re inefficient as all it is effectively is a large petrol engined car hauling a load of batteries and an electric motor or two around for the ride. If your use is mostly local then they do make sense but be warned battery packs degrade over time and cost a fortune to replace or repair.

Faced with your usage my choices would be different but I get the appeal of a powerful German turbo diesel. I’d favour a 6cyl 3 series if pushed to choose, an Estate with auto box for resale reasons and sheer practicality.

Edited by SLO76 on 19/12/2017 at 22:20

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - SteveLee

Don't overlook the Jaguar XF Sportbrake - better judged suspension than most of the German rivals and a real looker (IMHO.)

if you must to keep up with the Klauses - then looking up a tier from your list of German cars at the Merc E Class will give you more car for the money than the C class, E Classes are much more refined motorway cruisers and aren't actually that much bigger, depreciation is heavier than the C Class so they represent much better value for money second hand.

I'd still take the Jag...

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - Engineer Andy
If you can afford to buy a good approved used example and are willing and able to shell out for main dealer servicing and repairs then they are genuinely nice cars to drive and sit in. General reliability is nowhere near as good as image suggests largely due to sheer complexity but this falls off a cliff if non-franchise garages are used to maintain them as they simply do not have the expertise or equipment to do so effectively. Use the incorrect grade of oil and you’ll kill it in no time. If you have a genuine and well respected specialist nearby they may be worthy but again these guys tend to be no cheaper than main dealers if manufacturer parts are used. BMW 4cyl diesels (and petrols for that matter) are prone to timing chain issues while the sixes seem much better in terms of durability, DPF problems are more common than most and suspension and trim issues again worse than most. Merc are nothing like as well built as they were in the 80’s/early 90’s, with electrical problems common but the engines and gearboxes are generally good. Dealers are appallingly overpriced though for work. Lexus hybrids are smooth are usually utterly reliable but on distance runs they’re inefficient as all it is effectively is a large petrol engined car hauling a load of batteries and an electric motor or two around for the ride. If your use is mostly local then they do make sense but be warned battery packs degrade over time and cost a fortune to replace or repair. Faced with your usage my choices would be different but I get the appeal of a powerful German turbo diesel. I’d favour a 6cyl 3 series if pushed to choose, an Estate with auto box for resale reasons and sheer practicality.

Odd how the OP wants to spend £15k (not a small sum) on a 5-10yo complicated (and likely not anywhere as reliable as he thinks, especially as it will be of the age when BIG bills [even on wear and tear items] are due) bit of machinery (rather than a new one) and yet thinks that shelling out £700 for s set of four tyres every 1-2 years (mileage dependent), rather than £250 - £350 (for a set of four 16in 55-60 profile tyres from a quality manufacturer, fitted) is 'reasonable' - as that's as much as I've been paying out for things like a clutch (which hopefully lasts much longer than 2 years) on my Mazda.

Sorry OP, but I still think you are buying for image over substance, and, as SLO says (heed his words, as he is a car dealer and is well respected here), you could be shelling out several £000s in a very short space of time for servicing and repairs, which you'll need to budget for - hence why many of us here generally recommend people on a budget don't buy luxury cars (which are complex and can cost a fortune to run - German ones especially as they are nowhere near as reliable as Lexuses like yours), keeping to mid-range brands (especially from the Far East) and not full of toys that often go unused and are expensive to repair/replace when (eventually) they do fail.

If I were you, I'd:

  1. Check out the reviews section for the cars you are looking at, paying particular attention to the 'Good & Bad' sections as well as owners' reviews, both of which give viewpoints of real ownership well after the shine has disappeared from the brand new cars when tested by journalists. Similarly using the search function on this forum, as many 'woes' and issues are highlighted here.
  2. Make sure, whatever you buy, you can afford all those costs (including potential big bills) before you buy. No point in getting something you'll have to sell at the first sign of a major issue after a year or so, especially as you'll lose quite a lot on trading it in for another car.
  3. If you are going to use the car to ferry your family around (especially with babies and young children), I'd be looking for reliability, comfort and practical over performance, styling and image. Your wife won't be happy (and I would hope you wouldn't be either) if the car breaks down when on the way to an important appointment with two screaming kids in the back.

In my (and many others here [see SLO's comments], including, I believe, that of HJ himself) opinion, luxury German cars built from the late 1990s onwards are not of the same engineering quality as they were (for the time) beforehand, compared to Japanese and (now) Korean brands, and once out of their warranty period (given those on your list are WELL out of warranty), will likely be very expensive to maintain for the reasons SLO states. There is nothing to be ashamed about by buying non-German makes of car, many of which are very styling, reasonable/good to drive, cost-effective and very dependable, as long as they are well-maintained.

If you still go with those cars you originally were looking at, good luck to you, however this isn't the first time that a new member has asked on these pages for such advice, mainly to validate their own choices (rather than to actually seek advice) which they then regret later on when the car fails in a big way (often due to neglect before and/or after its bought, because of the high maintenance costs and a reluctance to use main dealers who have all the [expensive and often unique] specialist equipment to maintain them).

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - CK91437
If you can afford to buy a good approved used example and are willing and able to shell out for main dealer servicing and repairs then they are genuinely nice cars to drive and sit in. General reliability is nowhere near as good as image suggests largely due to sheer complexity but this falls off a cliff if non-franchise garages are used to maintain them as they simply do not have the expertise or equipment to do so effectively. Use the incorrect grade of oil and you’ll kill it in no time. If you have a genuine and well respected specialist nearby they may be worthy but again these guys tend to be no cheaper than main dealers if manufacturer parts are used. BMW 4cyl diesels (and petrols for that matter) are prone to timing chain issues while the sixes seem much better in terms of durability, DPF problems are more common than most and suspension and trim issues again worse than most. Merc are nothing like as well built as they were in the 80’s/early 90’s, with electrical problems common but the engines and gearboxes are generally good. Dealers are appallingly overpriced though for work. Lexus hybrids are smooth are usually utterly reliable but on distance runs they’re inefficient as all it is effectively is a large petrol engined car hauling a load of batteries and an electric motor or two around for the ride. If your use is mostly local then they do make sense but be warned battery packs degrade over time and cost a fortune to replace or repair. Faced with your usage my choices would be different but I get the appeal of a powerful German turbo diesel. I’d favour a 6cyl 3 series if pushed to choose, an Estate with auto box for resale reasons and sheer practicality.

All good points there.

With the Mercedes I would also put rust as a big issue on these cars. That's rusty bodies and brake pipes etc.

Jaguar is also a "premium" badge. How would you rate there reliabilty thou?

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - SteveLee
.

Jaguar is also a "premium" badge. How would you rate there reliabilty thou?

BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar - reliability is similar, you might get a good one, one might not - but don't expect reliability as a given with "premium" German brands - that's a myth and has been for a while. My two post-Ford takover (pre Tata) Jags were fantastic - never gave me a sniff of an issue. 170K miles in a Jag XJ8 - one wiper motor sensor and two wishbones outside routine servicing (and I thrash my cars), + 50K in a Jag XJR - never had an issue, although I think a supercharger bearing got changed under warranty during a routine service IIRR, as there were no symptoms and I didn't pay for it, it was a sort of non-event - the best bit were the dealers - first rate - couldn't do enough for me (Lexus are the only brand where I've been so impressed with the dealers/)

My work colleague's brand new bimmer 330d has just had complete engine failure - less than 2K on the clock tut tut - and boy are they dragging their feet with the repairs - and he drives slower than my grandma - and she's dead.

BMW/Audi/Mercedes - £15k budget for a family car - scott1s
The Lexus you have is a far, far better car than any of the ones you are looking at, in my humble opinion..... however they don’t do an estate.

For engineering integrity I wouldn’t look past a Honda. Accord with loads of change left in your pocket. Or even a CR-V or Civic Tourer all available with Hondas excellent diesel if that’s what you want

 

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