It was good to hear from Craig, who needed a great big barge to get to work and back. His is a pretty serious commute of 90 miles, and although he doesn’t have to be there every day, his annual mileage is a substantial 30,000. The best bit is that he actually wanted my sort of ‘bargey’ motor.
“I’d like a barge that takes the pain out of the commute,” he said. “I currently have a manual Mondeo estate, which is fine but a little noisy – and you notice all the little things with spending so much time in the car. I need a family barge that makes the miles fly by. Plus I need something which can go from service to service without visiting the garage. I would like the car to last at least five years and ideally I want 30-35mpg at motorway speeds.”
What an absolutely wonderful brief, with a solid budget of £20,000- plus. It also leads us shamelessly down the evil path of diesel. But this is what these big old oil-burners were built for, and the Volkswagen Group has most of the contenders here.
I like the Passats, and they do colossal mileages, too. Our £20k budget puts plenty of 2018 2.0 TDI GTs within touching distance. They will still have a new warranty and around 12,000 miles on the clock, so lots of scope to add more. Big dealer groups have them and it will officially do 49mpg overall. Dial out post-Dieselgate prejudice and I still think Craig will get a solid 40mpg.
Obviously there’s the Audi A6, which you can get with a similar 2.0 TDI, but why not consider a V6 TDI? Stretch to £24,000 and you can get a 2014 3.0 TDI Black, which won’t necessarily be black. It will have around 25,000 miles, which again leaves lots of room to add more. Official economy is 39mpg, so it may be more of a challenge to hit 35mpg, but it will be fun trying.
BMW remains the ultimate driving machine and with £20k you’ll get a 2016 530d M Sport Touring with 30,000 miles. Official economy is 43mpg, so I’d like to think that fits the bill. I worry it may not be quiet enough, though, so I’m also thinking Jaguar. I do worry about the reliability, but being a Jag, an XF D V6 3.0 from 2018 with 15,000 miles is around £28,000. There’s that reassuring warranty, too, of course.
That’s only scratched the diesel surface. With £20,000, which is only a loaded hatchback these days, there are some amazing bargey estates you should buy before the only option is a battery SUV. Long live diesel.
What we almost bought this week
Austin Maestro 1.3 L: Unmarked, full history and only 46,000 miles, this 1989 F-reg Maestro, priced £3495, is a rare ’80s survivor. As yesteryear’s stars move out of reach, orphans like this are finding fresh followers, especially if they’re in top nick. Elsewhere we found a 1988 Maestro 2.0 EFI described as being in superb condition and with 106,000 miles for £3200.