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Should I stay away from the Espace and this older Discovery?

I need a second hand seven seater. Have seen a 2005 Renault Grand Espace automatic petrol, 95k miles, leather priced at €3,850. Fallen in love with a 2004 Land Rover Discovery 2.5-litre, auto, diesel, leather, 150k miles too. Price €5,250. Would I be crazy to go for Land Rover? Difference in tax isn't too big. Two trustworthy mechanics told me Renault give expensive problems but didn't ask about Land Rover!

Susan Ryan (Dublin IRL)

Feb 2014 Filed under: reliability

Expert answer

Hi Susan,

Wow, you're a glutton for punishment aren't you? You pretty much couldn't have picked two less reliable cars. The Discovery is best avoided. If you could afford to trade up to a third-generation model I'd say that's worth a go, as Land Rover was starting to get on top of its quality issues by then, but the old Series II is just bad news. Gearboxes go, electrics go and even the suspension can fail. I know what you mean about falling in love - it's happened to me too with old Land Rovers, but you're looking at a very high-maintenance partner there.

The Espace is a little better, but not by much. The diesel engines are very fragile - check for smoke, check for oil levels and if there are any signs of overheating, run don't walk away. Check anything with an electrical wire coming out the back of it too as it can all go wrong, although the electronic parking brake and electric windows are especially prone to wrongness. Also, keep an eye on the tyres. Espaces go through them like butter and 20,000km is about as much as you'll get out of a set.

If you really want a seven-seater that works properly, can I suggest either a Mitsubishi Pajero or Toyota Land Cruiser? Not as cool as the Discovery, but they won't let you down.

Neil Briscoe - Complete Car Adviser

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