Car Buyers' Guide: European style

By Jack Biddle

The dilemma: Dad-to-be seeks a vehicle that's safe and value for money

With a baby due very soon, Nilesh is after a second new addition to the family: a bigger car. Currently driving a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta that has 100,000km on the clock, he wants to continue owning a European car.

"Value for money and the latest safety features are weighing highly in my decision making," he says.

Well Nilesh, some will argue that if you want value for money you should go for a low mileage second-hand vehicle where the first owner has taken the biggest hit on depreciation.

You could also be assured that any near-new model will likely come fitted with a bunch of high-tech passive and active safety features. Safety is a moving target, and mainstream vehicle distributors don't tend to claim the high ground for very long these days, such is the ongoing development in this area.

There is also a strong argument for buying new (or ex-demo/pre-registered). New car prices overall are extremely good at the moment.

If you plan to keep the vehicle reasonably long term, the whole depreciation argument becomes a lot less relevant. Add to that the warranty programmes that start from scratch when you buy new, plus, in some cases, the fixed-price (and in some other cases no-cost) service plans you will automatically inherit.

In summary, finding the vehicle that's fit-for-purpose is key, but looking at the other sweeteners on offer can often get you over the line.

If the Euros below don't appeal, check out the new Mazda6 wagon.

The budget: $45-50,000

The shortlist


VW Tiguan

It would seem your experience with the VW badge has been positive, so why not give them the first chance to impress? The Tiguan is offered in both petrol and diesel formats - with the 2L (132Kw) petrol variant within your budget ($49,500) - and for around-town commuting, is probably the best option in terms of overall ownership costs. VW is running an autumn campaign on the Tiguan; prices start at $42,900. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 8.6L/100km.

Skoda Superb wagon

Skoda would have to be one of the most underrated brands on the New Zealand market. Build quality is second to none, and additional safety features on the Superb wagon include the activation of warning lights during panic breaking and a driver's knee airbag. Claimed fuel consumption from the 1.8L petrol engine (118kW) is 7.3L/100km. Due to be facelifted later this year, the current model is being sold for well under the recommended retail price of $48,500, including on-road-costs.

Audi A3 Sportback

At $48,400, the Audi 1.4L TFSI is worth a look. It's full of the technology one expects from the brand and is a drive that won't disappoint. Don't be put off by the small engine as the turbo helps lift performance to 90kW, while combined overall fuel consumption is a very low 5L/100km. Make sure you do your homework on what comes standard and what are classed as chargeable extras as base costs can escalate fairly rapidly.

Driven recommends

The Skoda Superb wagon is a multi-award winning vehicle with lots to offer as a family car. Buy new at the  discounted price and you shouldn't be disappointed.

Are you looking for a new car, or struggling to make sense of what's good and what's not? Write to and our man Jack will give you the right information to get you in the right car.

- Hamilton News

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