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Market Watch: Used Cars We Would Consider At Different Levels Of Depreciation

It’s not the most relaxing exercise in this age of mighty COE premiums, but someone’s gotta do the heavy lifting, right?
Gerald Yuen
Gerald Yuen
31 May 2023

While the world begins to heal itself from pandemic pandemonium, post-Covid madness has shown that perhaps more time is required to resume a more typical sense of normalcy. From microchip shortages to inflation, the question of how everything will pan out from a financial and economical standpoint still looms large.

Which is perhaps why our reactions towards eye-popping COE premiums have no hope to fade into oblivion, given its headline-grabbing figures that make even a new BMW cost more than twice that of a 3-room HDB flat. Also discouraging is the fact that used cars have entered the radar of those who used to only swear by new car purchases. Even then, you’ll want to sell your current car at the highest price, or scrap/export it at the highest quote possible to offset your next purchase.

In this shortlist, we’ve adopted the realistic approach to recommend cars at various depreciation levels. A finance-first mindset could very well save us from future backlash, but we’re also keen to emphasise that there are also desirable cars in each price bracket. Let’s get started…

Depreciation: S$10,000 - S$15,000 per year

Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk5)

It’s horrifying enough to start this exercise with at least S$830 of “sunk cost” monthly, which pretty much puts into perspective the colossal costs of car ownership in Singapore. Granted, there are cheaper used cars for less money, but given the hand we’re dealt with, an annual depreciation of S$10,000 at least per annum sounds the most realistic. In this climate that’s where the cars get a little more interesting. Not mind-bendingly exciting in this scenario as we’d opt for the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTI, for its all rounded, function-first ethos packed with a punchy motor takes some beating. Sure, it’s a little long in the tooth with early generations approaching 2 decades old. Snag a Mk6 GTI for similar money if you can - our used car buyers’ guide reminds us that it might not be as problematic as initially anticipated.

Depreciation: S$15,000 - $20,000 per year

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TSI RS 245

While the previous price bracket gets you an Octavia with a non GTI-powered motor beneath the hood, the next step up seems like value amplified to the nth degree - for around 4 grand more per year you’ll be in one that’s more functional (thanks to its liftback styling), more spacious and notably newer than the VW. If you can get past hefty premiums placed on VWs (for reasons we still cannot entirely fathom), the Skoda Octavia RS 245 is not only an understated, no nonsense crown jewel in VW Group’s stable, it might just be the most bang for buck performance sedan in used car classifieds today. A base-tier F30 BMW 318i costs more - go figure…

Depreciation: S$20,000 - S$25,000 per year

BMW 520d M Sport

While mild and self-charging hybrids are all the rage now, they are tagged to newer generations, resulting in hefty price tags. The G30-gen BMW 5 Series, however, was optioned with a 2.0-litre burner that gathers 187bhp and a chunky 400Nm of torque. The 520d is far from mainstream in Singapore’s context given our (not so positive) perception towards diesels, but renouncing its effectiveness over long haul commutes is like refusing to feed milk to a newborn. With a tank good for 66 litres of fuel and a claimed efficiency way past 20km/l, you can make it to Penang and back without breaking a sweat.

Depreciation: S$25,000 - $30,000 per year

BMW Alpina B3 Saloon

Time to put our thinking caps on, when the annual depreciation can bag us a low mileage 3.2-litre Porsche Boxster in the UK. But we’re living in Singapore, and 2 (or more) car garages are only reserved for the well heeled. Which is why we’ve decided to place functionality at the forefront, even at the more lavish end of the bracket. Sure, you can just about feed your JDM addiction at this price point, but the lure of Alpina is indisputable. Beneath this B3 (from a F30 3 Series donor shell) sits a modified version of the N55 - a twin turbo straight six that generates 403bhp. Sure, that’s down on power from a dual motor-equipped Polestar 2, but there’s nothing quite like an emotional straight six snarl perfected by Buchloe-based engineers, proudly endorsed by BMW.

Depreciation: $30,000 per year onwards

Mercedes-Benz GLB35 AMG 4MATIC

By now you’ve probably figured that we tend to lean towards offbeat choices. In this heavyweight end of the scale we could work based on a blank checkbook, but surely even the wealthy could do with a decent deal? Not unless you’re in the market for one of Carousell’s most expensive car listings, ever. Trust us to not stinge on this even if it lands just above the 30 grand depreciation per year mark - the GLB35 AMG blends old school charm with modern, force-fed fury. Traditional SUV styling (perpendicular boot design for the win) paired with a massive turbo strapped to a 2.0-litre motor reminds us of a recipe perfected by characterful JDM SUVs in the noughties. This sits 7, so you’ll be getting more value for the metal. If you’re feeling it, there’s a bonafide SUV wearing a three pointed star boasting more rugged appeal, twice the cylinders and triple the depreciation - now we’re talking…


Selling your car? Whatever the reason, caryousell@carousell, sell your car at the highest price today.

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William Teng
2 weeks ago
The quote for my car was fast, responsive and the highest. The transaction was fast and explanation was clear. The person who inspected my car was friendly and professional. It was a good experience with OneShift.
William Chan
3 weeks ago
The transaction was very smooth from the minute I get on to their website trying to sell my car till the car ownership transferred and have the money paid by Pay Now into my account. It only takes less than 3 days. The person attending to me are very professional, Jon at the phone in their office and Sean Tan who came down to view and test the car. I am very happy to have decided to sell my car through "One Shift By Carousell"