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Old 03.08.2012, 14:04
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MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questions]

Hi fellow members,

In the coming 6-12 months we'll have to buy a family car. The title lists the current short-list which is compiled from personal experiences and a mixture of forums, sites and other reviews.

Whichever car we pick, it will *NOT* be in 7-seater version but rather 5 full seats + room for strollers, bags, shopping and what-nots. Long wheel base and comfortable ride rule above all, quality and running costs are close second, an so on. Doubt that I am the first to stumble across this one

Wanna know what your thoughts are on the following:

1) Which one would you chose out of the four listed
2) If you could add a wild card to the list - which one is it? [no French cars, please]
3) What are the smart choices in terms of:
- horsepower: is there a sweet-spot or a threshold I should keep in mind?
- diesel/petrol: is there any tax/insurance "penalty" on either of those?
- year of production: again, is there a threshold I should keep in mind assuming I will personally buy & import from Germany?
4) In your experience, has anyone (or maybe you) managed to get a price from a Swiss dealer matching or coming close to what the Germans offer (source mobile.de)? Have only compared Emil Frey against mobile.de and it is not even close.

Any other thoughts that might help a rookie to the task are more than welcome. Off to read the sticky "How to Privately Import..." while you chaps share your thoughts.

Last edited by defcon3; 03.08.2012 at 14:20. Reason: added NO FRENCH CARS, pls
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:07
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

How about a Renault Espace, standard edition?

3 full seats in the back, and enough space in the boot to wheel in a double buggy without folding it, plus space left over for other crap.

Edit: Ride is comfortable, driving position is "female friendly" (ie perched up in the clouds with lots of glass around you). Easy to drive in auto form. Does 9l/100km in mostly town driving in 2.2dci format, but newer engine are better (and more reliable!).

Just make sure you sell it before the warranty runs out, and you have full recovery on your insurance...

I have one.
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:08
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

If living in Geneva I would never ever buy such a large car. You would be hard pressed to find any parking spot and just driving around in small places would be difficult. Do you really need a car, if so, would recommend something much smaller.
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:14
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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If living in Geneva I would never ever buy such a large car. You would be hard pressed to find any parking spot and just driving around in small places would be difficult. Do you really need a car, if so, would recommend something much smaller.
disagree with this. I have a LR3 (Discovery3) and it's not hard to park.

But I would do either
1. Get whichever vehicle knowing it's going to lose value and be slow-ish to sell
2. Lease it and get the KM right, look after it and give it back
3. Keep it forever

I chose 3.

btw there is the same space in the LR in 5 or 7 seat form. 7-seats will see you with a small buggy behind the 3rd row - I think Volvo has more space behind the 3rd row. I've taken 6 adults and a childset in my LR3 - you can also get 3 childseats across the middle row.
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:16
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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How about a Renault Espace, standard edition?

3 full seats in the back, and enough space in the boot to wheel in a double buggy without folding it, plus space left over for other crap.

Edit: Ride is comfortable, driving position is "female friendly" (ie perched up in the clouds with lots of glass around you). Easy to drive in auto form. Does 9l/100km in 2.2dci format, but newer engine are better (and more reliable!).

Just make sure you sell it before the warranty runs out, and you have full recovery on your insurance...

I have one.
Forgot to write and I will amend the OP immediately - *NO FRENCH CARS*. Japanese is OK (although tough to find priced decently) but French: never on my own cash. I do get your idea though and have to say - did rent a Ford Galaxy for a weekend; was nice but didn't leave any lasting smiles. Monospace is a tough one, do not know of many that could pull it off properly.

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If living in Geneva I would never ever buy such a large car. You would be hard pressed to find any parking spot and just driving around in small places would be difficult. Do you really need a car, if so, would recommend something much smaller.
The need/want thingie is a tough one. As note above, did drive a Ford Galaxy around town but in all fairness - it was the weekend, so traffic was not an issue. I posted this thread with the sole intention to have my short list challenged - what can you recommend that is smaller yet has a good/comfortable/smooth ride?
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:20
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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what can you recommend that is smaller yet has a good/comfortable/smooth ride?
S-Max............
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:20
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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The need/want thingie is a tough one. As note above, did drive a Ford Galaxy around town but in all fairness - it was the weekend, so traffic was not an issue. I posted this thread with the sole intention to have my short list challenged - what can you recommend that is smaller yet has a good/comfortable/smooth ride?
VW Touran. Comfortable, fast options (no performance TSI or R versions at least), smaller. There are millions of them here.

Re: smiles & monboxes...I doubt you're going to find anything in your target range that gives driving smiles. "Big and boxy" and "performance" are not good bedfellows...
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:24
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

Xc 90 all the way...

They are dull as they are common but there's a reason for this, they do that particular job better than all of the compertition. I would assume the disco 4 is very good too but have no experience of it.

I did have a very large engined and powerful ML class and all I can say, although nice the build quality was classic later Merc... Ie it broke!

As far as engine types it depends what you want to do with it and how much you drive. The volvo D is a great engine, but diesel is costly here so there is a break even point....
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:24
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

Skoda Superb stationwagon, Merc G-class

Oh and don't get the R-class, I was looking at that when I got the LR3.
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:27
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

From the 4 mentioned, I'd go for the M class.

But why not take a look at the RAV4? Not a lot of cargo space but plenty of room for 5.

In my mind the Landcruiser is the king of the road but you said you don't want 7 seater...
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:28
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

If you want the best value for money, the R-Class is the best one - in my opinion. It has M-Class technology and "looks full of character" :-)
You should be able to find a bargain in Germany.
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:33
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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The need/want thingie is a tough one. As note above, did drive a Ford Galaxy around town but in all fairness - it was the weekend, so traffic was not an issue. I posted this thread with the sole intention to have my short list challenged - what can you recommend that is smaller yet has a good/comfortable/smooth ride?
Volvo or skoda estate
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:44
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

Its all getting a bit confusing now As far as I can see there are three options for your larger model of car.


MPV (Galaxy, Touran, R-class etc..)


SUV (Volve XC, MB ML, BMW X3, Audi Q5 etc..)


Estate (5-series touring, A6 Estate etc..)

So lets compare Apples with Apples. For me, my choices in each of the above mentioned categories would be:

Ford Focus S-Max
Audi Q5
BMW 5-series touring
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:46
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

If you don't want 7 seats, any large estate will do and you don't need the 4x4 looks, i.e. buy a large estate A6, BMW 5 series, Merc E class, volvo with four wheel drive.

You'll have better performance, economy and more comfort.

I say this as a former Disco 3 owner (loved them) and now a Merc Viano owner. I need(ed) the seats, so I think it is more justifiable. If you don't, then it really is a case of trying to crack a nut with a sledge hammer (for the reasons you've stated, anyway).

Of course, if you just want a big car, then be honest about it.

That being the case, get a second hand Porsche Cayenne - they lose value faster than a Lada so you should be able to pick up a bargain...
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Old 03.08.2012, 14:59
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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From the 4 mentioned, I'd go for the M class.
Would you? Then Perhaps I can put you off that when it has to have a complete engine replacement at 40k and then keeps switching to limp home mode and later looks like it will need a new gearbox at an estimated 12 grand

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If you don't want 7 seats, any large estate will do and you don't need the 4x4 looks, i.e. buy a large estate A6, BMW 5 series, Merc E class, volvo with four wheel drive.

You'll have better performance, economy and more comfort.

I say this as a former Disco 3 owner (loved them) and now a Merc Viano owner. I need(ed) the seats, so I think it is more justifiable. If you don't, then it really is a case of trying to crack a nut with a sledge hammer (for the reasons you've stated, anyway).

Of course, if you just want a big car, then be honest about it.

That being the case, get a second hand Porsche Cayenne - they lose value faster than a Lada so you should be able to pick up a bargain...
I' m kinda with Carlos on the estate vs SUV re room and comfort but if it's still one of those choices ...still xc90.

I personally wouldn't go near an older Cayenne, nor Tourag on the same platform for that matter, unless you got the right manufacturing years. Big expensive cars such as do devalue hugely so you can get a bargain aggreed but also the certain models do more as the are riddled with electical gremlins and are not desireable...
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Old 03.08.2012, 15:06
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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Would you? Then Perhaps I can put you off that when it has to have a complete engine replacement at 40k and then keeps switching to limp home mode and later looks like it will need a new gearbox at an estimated 12 grand
Well the OP said that number 1 priority is comfort and number 2 is cost, I think it will be impossible to beat the M class on the comfort and I hear you for the repairs...But if you buy new with warranty you have piece of mind for the next 5 years or so...
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Old 03.08.2012, 15:10
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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S-Max............
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VW Touran. Comfortable, fast options (no performance TSI or R versions at least), smaller. There are millions of them here.

Re: smiles & monboxes...I doubt you're going to find anything in your target range that gives driving smiles. "Big and boxy" and "performance" are not good bedfellows...
I cannot find a S-Max to drive/test/rent but have been eyeing it, TBH. Apologies for not making it clear - putting a smile on my face... When I am alone, I like to rent/borrow the occasional sling-shot AMG or Brabus coupes (Lord, the SLS is giving me an orgasm each time). I do it a few times a year but when it comes to daily life/family I smile when the ride is smooth, the gearbox buttery and the highway cruising pleasurable. I am not after a boy toy but a comfortable family cruiser.

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Xc 90 all the way...

They are dull as they are common but there's a reason for this, they do that particular job better than all of the compertition. I would assume the disco 4 is very good too but have no experience of it.

I did have a very large engined and powerful ML class and all I can say, although nice the build quality was classic later Merc... Ie it broke!

As far as engine types it depends what you want to do with it and how much you drive. The volvo D is a great engine, but diesel is costly here so there is a break even point....
Ha! Owner of one of the short-listed... If memory serves me right, you wrote about a family gathering where the parking looked like a XC90 club of sorts? Is yours an automatic? If you had to complain of it (at gun point if you will), what would you say the shortcomings were?

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Skoda Superb stationwagon, Merc G-class

Oh and don't get the R-class, I was looking at that when I got the LR3.
G-Class is awesome but more often than not comes at 2x price of those listed. The estate/stastion-wagons are low(er), and this is a no-no for the Mrs. She likes her ride to be higher - not that I am complaining

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From the 4 mentioned, I'd go for the M class.

But why not take a look at the RAV4? Not a lot of cargo space but plenty of room for 5.

In my mind the Landcruiser is the king of the road but you said you don't want 7 seater...
RAV4 is nice, I agree. Need to check prices against those listed.

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If you want the best value for money, the R-Class is the best one - in my opinion. It has M-Class technology and "looks full of character" :-)
You should be able to find a bargain in Germany.
This is verbatim my rational for picking it. It is a steal for what's in the package and suffers from the cross-eye looks when sold pre-owned. Lots of sub-30k 2010/2011 available with good history and I am tempted indeed.

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Volvo or skoda estate
XC90 has 2 votes now. The estate is not format I am after.

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Its all getting a bit confusing now As far as I can see there are three options for your larger model of car.


MPV (Galaxy, Touran, R-class etc..)


SUV (Volve XC, MB ML, BMW X3, Audi Q5 etc..)


Estate (5-series touring, A6 Estate etc..)

So lets compare Apples with Apples. For me, my choices in each of the above mentioned categories would be:

Ford Focus S-Max
Audi Q5
BMW 5-series touring
To me, all three cover/fit the family profile. I am not after comparing them against each other but rather finding out which is the best fit for the job. From your list, I see the S-Max appearing again (two votes so far), which means I need to find one to drive/test soon.

The Audi Q5 is like the GLK, a proper car shrinked after a car wash or something.

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If you don't want 7 seats, any large estate will do and you don't need the 4x4 looks, i.e. buy a large estate A6, BMW 5 series, Merc E class, volvo with four wheel drive.

You'll have better performance, economy and more comfort.

I say this as a former Disco 3 owner (loved them) and now a Merc Viano owner. I need(ed) the seats, so I think it is more justifiable. If you don't, then it really is a case of trying to crack a nut with a sledge hammer (for the reasons you've stated, anyway).

Of course, if you just want a big car, then be honest about it.

That being the case, get a second hand Porsche Cayenne - they lose value faster than a Lada so you should be able to pick up a bargain...
OK. First step to redemption is admitting one's sins. I LOVE BIG CARS. There, I said it. Although, I did post in OP that large wheelbase and comfortable ride come on top of the priority list, didn't I?

I have checked the VW Toureg (the Cayene doppelganger) but for some reason these were priced higher than the four on the short list for similar KM and years on the clock. Is the Porsche cheaper than the VW? Should I not be worried for maintenance costs there? Will park this idea for the moment.
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Old 03.08.2012, 15:11
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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Well the OP said that number 1 priority is comfort and number 2 is cost, I think it will be impossible to beat the M class on the comfort and I hear you for the repairs...But if you buy new with warranty you have piece of mind for the next 5 years or so...
True it was a good car, shame really. The engine was indeed done under warranty it still gave an issue when I came to sell it tho, the Swiss don't seem to like things that have had parts replaced

I guess it also is important to know what age of vehicle the OP is looking at; if the klics and years are getting up a bit it might change the answer.
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Old 03.08.2012, 15:14
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

For me it would be a toss up between a BMW 5 series touring and an Audi A6 estate. We're actually in the same boat as the OP, in that we've outgrown our Alfa Giulietta but still want something fairly fun, sporty and car like.
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Old 03.08.2012, 15:15
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Re: MB R-Class / Volvo XC90 / MB M-Class / Land Rover Discovery 4 [Family Car Questio

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Whichever car we pick, it will *NOT* be in 7-seater version but rather 5 full seats + room for strollers, bags, shopping and what-nots. Long wheel base and comfortable ride rule above all, quality and running costs are close second, an so on. Doubt that I am the first to stumble across this one
In your position I'd be looking for a large estate car, not a wannabee off-roader such as you list above. Sure, some of the above give a little more interior height than their road-based cousins, but in nearly all cases the usable, i.e. flat, load space is greater in a normal-height estate car.

So I'd be looking at Audi A6, rather than Q7, at Volvo V70 (or possibly XC70 if you like the image) rather than XC90, and so on. Ride quality is nearly always going to be much better in the lower cars and accessibility, e.g. lifting a stroller into the load area, will be much easier.

They'll also generally be cheaper to buy and more economical to run than the SUV versions, which may be a factor too. Other cars you might consider would include the VW Passat, BMW 5-series tourer, or even the Ford Mondeo estate, which I'm assured is a great car (but I couldn't do it myself).

HTH
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