27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: I currently drive a 2009 Mazda3 Sports Max and, although I’m very pleased with it, would like to upgrade to a new Mazda.

I am deciding whether to purchase a hybrid Mazda, which one might be the equivalent to the Mazda3, or whether to purchase the full-electric Mazda.

I am just concerned that if I purchase a hybrid and then all cars become electric soon, then my new Mazda will devaluate in a very short time after purchase.

Do you think it’s worth buying the hybrid Mazda now or waiting to buy the full electric Mazda?

Anna-Jo H

A: Electrification will not have any major impact on the value of a new Mazda because we’re a very long way from a battery takeover, with only 5000 cars sold last year compared to a total market of 900,000. The first electric Mazda will be a version of the MX-30, which we’ve driven as a hybrid and found very nice, but you need to look at the costs. Right now, a battery electric car is close to double the price of an equivalent car with a petrol engine. So if you want to go green, a hybrid makes far more sense for now.

Q: Just writing on the off- chance you could advise me in choosing between two small SUVs.

I am considering the Mazda and the Kia Seltos and looking for safety, reliability, comfort and pazzaz.

I’m driving to Perth in the new year so hoping to make a choice very soon.

Robyn W

A: Do you mean CX 30 or MX-30? If it’s the MX model, it will definitely do the job and has the pizzazz – check out the clamshell-opening doors – to make you smile. But between CX-30 and Seltos, the Kia is better value and comes with a much longer warranty. Perhaps a bit boring compared to the MX-30, but it does the job.

Q: My Falcon G6E 2012 has completed 82,000 kilometres and on a recent service the report stated that my tires were 2.80 mm, 3.10 mm, 2.4 mm, 2.30 mm. The report added that all tyres were low on tread and require replacing.

I measured all tyres and they were between 5 and 6mm.

Also reported were both outer diff bushes needed replacing at $1100, tail-shaft coupling split for $410.

Is the company having a lend of me or are these in need of replacing? After the tread size I am not sure.

Warren F

A: In defence of the dealership, were you measuring the tread at the same point? You must measure at the lowest level, which often is at the edges, and not in the centre. The differential bushes and tail-shaft to suffer wear-and-tear on sporty Falcons. On the tyre front, go to an independent specialist, perhaps Bob Jane T-Marts, and get them to assess the tyres in the same way as people sometimes get a ’second opinion’ from doctors on a health problem.

Q: My 17-year-old daughter is looking at upgrading her Ford Fiesta.

She is thinking of a Kia Stonic, with the 1-litre turbo engine, and I was wondering what you think of these cars?

John A

A: A good car and the right sort of upgrade, as the Stonic is not too big after driving a baby like the Fiesta. It gets The Tick every time.

Q: I’m currently looking for a Holden Commodore ute.

I’m after a 2016-2017 Series II VF SS-V Redline, automatic, with less than 50,000 kilometres.

I’ve been looking chasing for three months and had a look at a couple a month ago when the rough asking price was $50-55,000. Now the same thing is $60-70,000.

In your opinion should I wait till things settle, or are they just on their way up in dollars?
To me there seem to be less cars on-line now and at higher prices.

Mark J

A: There is no sign yet that the market for those sort of Aussie classics has peaked, although there have been plenty of predictions in the past. You’re chasing something pretty specific and it’s unlikely prices will come down this year because there is limited supply and lots of demand.

Q: My daughter and son-in-law are in the market for a new car to drive – very low mileage – around Melbourne.

They have two young children – 5 and 3 – so have car seats, luggage, prams, bikes etc…

They are looking at Skoda Karoq Style 1.4 TSI, Mazda CX-5 Maxx and VW Tiguan 11OTSI Life.

I’d appreciate your assessment and recommendation please.

Mike K

A: All three of those are at the top of the class, but the Tiguan and Karoq are from the same Volkswagen Group stable so cancel each other out. They must test drive all three, and take the car seats and kids for a trial fitting, to make sure they are ‘fit for purpose’ with their family. The Karoq is an excellent choice and would be the one for me.

Q: I would welcome your advice regarding a larger SUV to be used for off-road travel in the outback, like the Gibb River Road and Oodnadatta Track.

The rest of the time will be spent on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

As my partner has died, I need an expert’s advice in this field and have been looking at the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Pajero, or the Ford Everest.

Something priced between the high $50,000s and low $60,000s.

June W

A: You need to consider your day-to-day use more than occasional trips into the outback, so something like a Subaru Outback should also be on your short list. The Pajero is the obvious choice, proven in the outback but still not really a match for a Toyota Prado once you get deep into the tough conditions. You need to drive the big SUVs to understand what you gain but, more importantly, what you lose for regular driving around home.

Q: My son has an old ute and does lots of camping and off-road and loves it.

He wants to upgrade to a Ford Ranger Wildtrak or Toyota HiLux double cab or Nissan Navara or Benz X250.

I suggested Volkswagen Amarok but he is not keen.

What would you recommend please?

Simon de W

A: He should crunch the numbers and test drive the all-new Isuzu D-Max as well as the Ranger. One of those will work for sure. The HiLux is costly and the Benz is just a Navara with a three-pointed star.

Q: Do you know if the new C Class Mercedes out later this year in Australia will be available in a coupe?

I have a three-year-old model and will be looking to replace it.

Keith W

A: There should definitely be a new C Class coupe but don’t expect it in showrooms before the middle of next year, at the earliest.

Q: I bought a Mercedes C230 Elegance new in 2006 with the 2.5-litre engine and I have been very happy driving it. It has power, visibility and very few problems over the years.

It still drives well but I also want all these new gadgets such as rear-vision parking and all modern gadgets which my children enjoy.

However, I find all new cars in the Merc category that the visibility is not great. The windows get smaller and smaller and I feel claustrophobic when in it.

So what would you recommend in a new Merc? I like the look of the C250, but this time I cannot afford a new car and a 2019-2020 would be attractive.

Lynn B

A: All cars are getting less visibility because of safety crash requirements and the trendy look for coupe-style design in everything from baby cars to SUVs. The C250 is still a great choice and you will become more used to the visibility with time, particularly with radar assistance for everything from changing lanes to parking.

If you have a question for the Car Doctor, send an email to [email protected]

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