So now that I’ve finished my hunt for my car and am continuing to love every second of it, where does this lead this little blog of mine? Well certainly I won’t be abandoning it but I am going to try and inject a little more variation into my writing as opposed to just cars cars cars…trying doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to be successful though, and as if to prove a point the issue of how to replace one of my favourite Mercedes has cropped up. Now because this isn’t something that is going to be dragged out for months/years like my new car was I am going to focus on a list of cars which might be able to fill those big boots.
Some of these vehicles are very different and may not seem like natural competitors, but with the fragmentation of the car market and buyer’s attention being pulled left, right and centre by new exciting models it’s only fitting that I include a variety of vehicles which meet the brief: reasonably practical, diesel, automatic, premium badge, a few gadgets and not as bad as an R Class on mpg. That leaves a huge list which would likely take me weeks to complete so I’ve narrowed it down to 5 new and 5 used vehicles – all of which are very appealing in different ways.
The benefits of a new car are huge when you have a decent monthly amount to spend. A warranty, lots of personalisation/fancy equipment, attractive finance deals/discounts and that all important new car smell make it an appealing option for a lot of people. However if you’re planning to keep the car for more than the length of the contract then it becomes a little less attractive…also anyone doing a high mileage needs to account for that in higher monthly payments as the car will depreciate more.
Audi A5 Sportback:
The A5 is often the forgotten family member at Audi and the Sportback is probably it’s least common variant. Essentially a more practical yet sleekly styled version of the ubiquitous A4 saloon the A5 seems to have been somewhat overlooked by the leagues of customers flocking to the four-ringed brand. But the A5 is a great all round car (albeit not the freshest model) and would offer excellent fuel economy alongside decent performance and very reasonable prices. Audi UK are currently offering the A5 for £359/month with a deposit of £6.8k and optional final payment of £14.9k, but I am sure there are better offers than that around.
BMW 5 Series GT:
Often called the ugly duckling of the BMW range (or at least one of them!), the 5 GT is not a car that has been a massive success for the Bavarian brand; essentially a more practical version of the 5 Series saloon but with some features stolen from the 7 Series flagship, on paper the 5 GT sounded like a good idea except in execution the car was left with a unsightly rear end and startled front. Inside is of course much better though, and in 520d guise mpg is good with little sacrifice in performance. It’s unpopularity means that there are plenty of good offers; BMW UK is offering a big contribution meaning a customer deposit of just £5400, payments of £399/month and an optional final bill of £12.6k. That’s a lot of car for the money when you consider it’s a whole class up from the A5!
Another BMW accused of being ugly, the X4 is the very latest car from the brand and is a bit of a wild card here. The larger X6 has hardly set the world on fire but the idea of a SUV-coupe still has some traction, especially when you consider how new and unusual the model is. Much of the car is based on the X3 meaning efficient engines, good handling and a smart interior, although practicality takes a severe hit in terms of boot and rear head space. As it’s brand new I am not sure if there are waiting lists or anything and offers aren’t going to be that enticing, but for a model likely to be very popular they aren’t appalling; £5.4k deposit and a steepish £459/month plus a hefty final payment of £16.7k…although I bet that the car would be worth much more than that after 4 years.
The problem with a lot of these cars is that even with their attractive dealer contributions, interest rates on repayments are not as cheap as a lot of ‘mainstream’ brands offer, but Jaguar are happy to buck the trend and offer 0%! That’s a serious attractive offer even before you look at the car itself, which is very sleekly styled and rarer than the ubiquitous German rivals. Inside things aren’t quite as rosy as the infotainment system is a little old hat, but the modern gearbox and relatively efficient engines compensate somewhat. Also interesting is the Sportbrake model, which is even rarer and arguably more attractive with it’s estate-ness. Both saloon and estate can be had for just £329/month with a £7k/£8.4k deposit respectively, and final payments of £13.7k/£14.5k are also manageable. The only thing to look out for the with Jag is the potential long term reliability of some components, plus the lack of AWD (applicable to the 5 GT and CLS too admittedly). Definitely worth serious considering though.
In some ways the natural successor to the ill-fated R Class, another semi-coupe from Mercedes but one that keeps buyers coming back and now in it’s second generation. There are better deals on other cars but none match the CLS for dramatic styling or the familiar cabin. The base 250 engine may seem a little small for a car this pricey but it performs perfectly well and returns great mpg, it’s even available as an estate too which looks even more stunning. Despite a reasonably low deposit of £5k (£6k for the estate) monthly payments are between £500-£550 and final prices hover around the £20k mark. It’s still an amazing car and of course offers are tailored to each individual, but this will be the most expensive car to buy from this little selection.
Buying a used car brings up a whole host of other questions such as how much to actually spend, how to finance the car (outright or on a finance plan), viable age/mileages and longer term reliability. However pick a good’un and it’s possible to have many years of trouble free motoring for less, plus with no worries about annual mileage etc. At around £26-27k the cars will all be very nice and tidy so this avoids a lot of the pitfalls I had to look out for too.
Audi A6 Avant:
Although the A6 Avant is not out of budget new, it was a little pricey and a little too common for me to waste one of my 5 final spaces on! But as a used car it is a great option, and it’s popularity has pushed down used prices to a far more acceptable level if you are prepared to forgo S Line spec. Annoyingly all of the close-by cars within budget have manual gearboxes, but pushing things up to just under £30k would get you a 6 month old A6 2.0TDI with under 10k miles, albeit without Quattro. Maybe not the best deal out there but worth considering as an alternative to a brand new car on a used finance deal.
In my opinion one of the most beautiful cars on sale, the A7 has a real presence that is near unmatched in this group of cars. Based on the A6 platform it has an exquisite interior, powerful engines and a large boot albeit only space for 2 rear seats. 2012 A7’s start at around £23k from Audi UK but a lower mileage car (25k) will set you back around £27k. The only thing to watch here (apart from the sometimes lack of Quattro) is the difference in gearboxes/engines; cars with the Multitronic CVT are less powerful and won’t drive anywhere near as sporty as the DSG S-Tronic cars, but the CVT’s are usually the cheaper examples unfortunately.
Another Audi? Well the Q5 is a proper crossover similar to the R Class, and is one of the safest places to put your money in mainstream car world. Again it would be possible to buy a brand new one but as incentives/interest rates aren’t anything special for such a popular car it would seem prudent to check used examples. Admittedly nearly £29k for a 2011 pre facelift (!) Q5 isn’t anything to shout about, but with under 30k on the clock and with a good specification they are certainly worth a peek inside if the raised seating appeal of a crossover is still desired.
Land Rover Discovery:
A proper old-school SUV here and unfortunately probably the only car which will struggle to significantly beat the R Class’ 30mpg combined mpg figure. The Discovery is a highly desirable machine though, and has bags of appeal – rugged styling, fantastic seating position, large boot and just an overall sense of adventure mean that many buyers are willing to overlook it’s short comings for ownership. And there are shortcomings; relatively poor dynamics, lack of pace (at least compared to other cars here), the aforementioned poor mpg (and high tax rate) plus potentially poor reliability. It’s also not cheap to buy…you can get one from Land Rover UK for under £30k but those tend to be examples with over 40k miles and 2009/10. To get a 2011 car in top HSE spec and low miles you have to push things nearer to £35k which is a little pricey, but then it is a very appealing vehicle.
An interesting alternative to a brand new CLS250 would be a used version of it’s more powerful sibling, which trades a few mpg for a big boost in power and usually equipment too. Under £28k would get a 2012 350 saloon with just 24k on the clock…around half the price of a brand new one! The shooting brake is newer and so pricier, but a 2012 250 version could be had for under £30k and essentially delivery miles (4k!). This is an ace in the hole for the CLS as it compares favourably even to the stylish A7, although bear in mind that a used 5 GT would probably be significantly cheaper.
Of course this is a mere selection of the cars which could succeed a buyer looking for a premium new car but I think they present a good selection of options for anyone 🙂