Well, the new mixer has been purchased - and it turned out to be none of the brands we had discussed. It cost €99 at an outlet store called Chronostock in Chateauroux and is an H. Koenig KM-60s. It came with beater, whisk and dough hook, 5 l bowl and bowl cover. It has a power take off for a mincer attachment (I've checked online and they cost about €35 so I guess we will get one in due course). It doesn't have a second power take off for blender / juicer but we weren't looking for that anyway. The motor is 1000W and the body plastic. The accessories are not dishwasher proof. It is made in France.
So far I've made two cakes with it, the first using the recipe for a plain cake supplied in the instruction manual and the second making some adjustments to the quantities because the first cake was too dry. The second cake also got some sultanas and chopped preserved orange peel, to see how the machine coped with lumpy bits in the mix. We have yet to use the dough hook.
The mixer rattles and whines as it mixes, but this is a common criticism of all brands. My suspicion is that plastic bodied machines rattle more than metal. The arm, or head, or whatever you call it is rather stiff to lift up and down, and this is an observation made by other reviewers too. I've found that it is getting smoother with use and practice. Importantly, it seems to mix thoroughly, picking up from the sides and bottom so no stopping to scrape down at half time is necessary. The other thing I like is that the machine is very plain - not very attractive, but no twiddly details that collect grime. The casing is smooth and uniform, so easy to quickly wipe over. I also like the reassurance of the big motor (the small motor on Kitchen Aids has me baffled as I was under the impression that bigger is better).
- the recipe's fault, not the mixer's.