The pandemic backlog, together with supply chain issues stunting new car manufacture, mean the second-hand market is now thriving to meet consumer demand. With the industry struggling to catch up with new car orders, used cars are a much quicker alternative than waiting for over a year for a new vehicle. However, meeting this supply comes at a cost.
Compared to July 2020 used car prices have risen by £3,300 on average and compared to pre-pandemic times in July 2019, prices are up by £4,100. Overall, average prices have increased by19.5% year-on-year for a like-for-like vehicle, so the pennies won’t stretch to where they once did.
So, we’ve enlisted the help of motoring journalist Trinity Francis, to come-up with her recommended best-buys across eight different price points, from value end of the market, through to the premium.
Buying on value: target price £6,000
Dacia Sandero Stepway
It can be difficult to find a decent sized family car for under £6,000 but the Sandero Stepway ticks a lot of boxes. A seven-year old car with around 50,000 miles will have plenty of room for the family and even has a roof rack for large or awkward luggage.
A Corsa has the fun factor to make a three door hatch an enjoyable and practical daily driver. This price point will get a seven-year-old car with 55,000 miles and a choice of different manual petrol engines. An ideal choice for a learner driver.
A six-year-old city car with 45,000 miles is a popular pick, so keep an eye out for Ups that come on the market as they sell quickly. As the smallest in the VW range, the Up has good build quality and proves to be a reliable city car.
Mid-market purchase: target price £10,000
If passenger-space is a top priority, the Zafira is one of the cheapest options for a seven- seater people carrier. It’s difficult to beat the practicality and size for the money with lots of six-year-old examples available showing 50,000 miles.
As a first car or a family car, a Ford Focus is a master of all trades. They’re a popular choice so there’s plenty on the market to choose from and its commonality means parts and maintenance should be relatively inexpensive. At this price point you can expect to find a four-year-old vehicle with 60,000 miles.
Minis deliver both the wow factor and quality feel. Despite the name, they’re not so “mini” anymore, providing room for a bag or two and a couple of passengers. Unfortunately, £10,000 won’t stretch to a convertible but there are plenty of low mileage, six-year-old, five door hatchbacks to choose from.
Mid-market purchase: target price £15,000
Estates are now battling it out with SUVs for the title of best family car but estates still hold their own with a huge amount of boot space and great towing abilities. A three year old Skoda Octavia with 40,000 miles and a 1.6-litre diesel engine will have good fuel economy and work well as a commuter car or holiday road tripper.
SUVs are now the more popular approach to family cars with a higher ride height and easier access to passengers in the back seats. For just £15,000 the options open to a three year old model with 20,000 miles, bagging the latest generation which is the biggest to date. Nissan Qashqais are quite common so there’s plenty to choose from.
BMW 3 Series
The £15,000 mark should provide several options across the BMW 3-series range. A four-year-old example with 55,000 miles, delivers both reasonable value and desirability. You could even get an M Sport 3 Series that’s six years old with 65,000 miles.
Mid-market purchase: target price £20,000
The all wheel drive XC60 will set you back around £20,000 for a 50,000 miles, top trim SE Lux version. It’s quiet and comfortable inside and, in keeping with Volvo’s reputation, it scores highly for advanced safety systems and passenger protection.
This price point offers a one-year-old model with under 10,000 miles on the clock. Newer Kia’s are always great value for money as they come with a standard seven-year warranty. They also come with a fair amount of standard equipment such as a seven-inch dashboard touchscreen and a reversing camera.
There’s an MX-5 for every price point, but at £20,000 you can get a two-year-old sporty number with under 15,000 miles. Whilst it’s not the most sensible option, it’s the kind of purchase that employs the heart instead of the head. Life’s too short not to have a convertible sports car at some point.
Mid-market purchase: target price £25,000
Volkswagen models generally command a higher price tag than similar alternatives but they tend to hold their value well, so when its time to sell, a Tiguan shouldn’t lose too much money. This price point will get a two-year-old example with 25,000 miles and one year of warranty remaining.
BMW 5 Series
A 5 Series is guaranteed to deliver comfort, performance and luxury. You can get a three year old M Sport with 40,000 miles or a five year old model with 30,000 miles. BMW offers a range of trim levels and optional extras so keep an eye out for used examples with more kit than standard.
The GLC benefits from Mercedes’ impressive media system with voice activated controls and an augmented reality sat-nav. £25,000 will get a standard spec, four year old GLC with 50,000 miles, or a six year old AMG line model with 50,000 miles.
Mid-market purchase: target price £30,000
Electric cars can be a pricy investment, but the Ioniq will be cheaper to run and is a large EV for the money. To avoid paying considerably over the odds, a second-hand EV can help to save money and make going green more achievable. There’s plenty of one year old models on the market with under 10,000 miles and four years manufacturer’s warranty left.
Packed with tech and a new modern look, an XC40 is a well-equipped crossover that has a five-star Euro NCAP rating. £30,000 is enough for a one-year-old model with under 15,000 miles and two years of warranty left.
Land Rover Discovery Sport
On road or off road, the Discovery Sport is a hugely capable vehicle that swaddles up to seven passengers in plush leather luxury. At this price point you can get a three-year-old model with under 30,000 miles. There are several specifications to go for and the choice of a six speed manual or smooth nine speed automatic.
Mid-market purchase: target price £40,000
Ideal for an everyday runaround or a holiday cruiser, the Audi Q7 is roomy and comfortable at speed. £40,000 will get you a three-year-old car with 40,000 miles. Despite its large footprint, powerful engines mean the Q7 doesn’t feel sluggish, even with seven passengers and luggage.
Another SUV pick, the Touareg is a spacious family car that should’ve already undergone a decent amount of depreciation and hold its value when it comes time to sell. A three-year-old example with 20,000 miles and a modern Volkswagen interior with curved dashboard screens.
Range Rover Velar
The Range Rover is the king of SUVs and one of the most desirable luxury SUVs on the market. Opting for a used example is a more cost effective way to secure a nearly new model whilst not overpaying or waiting for a new car. This price point can get a three year old model with 30,000 miles.
Mid-market purchase: target price £50,000
Tesla Model 3 Long range
Whilst electric cars are more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts, an EV is still a good long term investment. At this price you could snap up a two year old Model 3 Long range with under 20,000 miles and 2 years of warranty left. Opting for a Tesla also gives access to the Tesla Supercharger network.
The Porsche Macan has an inviting interior and is surprisingly practical and soothing to drive. There’s some exciting engines to choose from that make the commute or trip to the shops a lot more entertaining. £50,000 opens the door to a 3 year old car with under 30,000 miles.
Toyota GR Supra
At the top end of the scale the GR Supra is a head turner and an unusual choice. A one year old Supra with under 15,000 miles is also great value for money with a 10 year or 100,000 mile warranty. However the warranty only covers manufacturing faults, not reckless driving.