What Makes Certain COE Cars So Popular?

Jek Ray Low
14 Jan 2021

COE cars allow more of us to have our own vehicles. Financially, they make more sense; their lower price tags mean lower barriers of entry, which means we can have a car of our own, but still save up cash for a rainy day. It also means that we can drive cars from marques that we’d otherwise not be able to afford brand new.

That being said, not all COE cars are sought after. Certain models seem to command higher sale prices than others, and you can find out which models are the more popular ones in the category you’re looking for, by heading over to the Cars For Sale section on the Carousell App, and filtering by marque or body style to see which models have the most listings! We believe that there are 5 main factors that contribute to their sustained popularity, and they are as follows:

5) They Were Popular New

Many chose to purchase these vehicles new. Cars such as the Toyota Vios, any variant of the Corolla, and even the first generation Hyundai Avante, all offered incredible value, combining a package that promised excellent fuel economy, with decent interior space and performance.

Their popularity means a robust parts network would have organically formed, with stockists the island over having parts for these vehicles on a whim. This means lower running costs, as greater competition between dealers equates to lower parts prices. What helps, is also parts salvaged from examples that never had their COEs renewed. Combined, their popularity means that there is a surplus of parts, new or otherwise, which also means less headache if you are involved in an accident or come service time!

4) Reliability

A car’s age is inversely proportional to its reliability (an exception to the rule would be some models from Toyota, which really won’t show any major signs of wear until well north of the 200k km mark!). Wear and tear components eventually fail, and it can be frustrating to bring your car to a workshop for some troubleshooting. Sure, as mentioned above, there would be healthy parts support in the aftermarket for an established model, but if you’re already going to buy used, most will save themselves the potential for headaches by choosing a car that wasn’t finicky brand new.

This is probably why the price gulf of a European vehicle when new and as a COE car is as big as it is. For starters, they are already less reliable than their Asian counterparts. They also tend to be more complicated than the latter, which means even higher costs to put something right!

3) Mechanical Simplicity

Bread-and-butter COE cars from Japan or Korea are typically still in high demand. There’s a good reason for that. These cars are built simple, and thus, are fairly bullet-proof. Their engines have been honed upon by their engineers, in one form or another, for decades, which means any potential flaw or weakness would have already been weeded out in one iteration or another.

Especially true of the Japanese Econoboxes of the 2000s, these vehicles can create fuel consumption figures that, considering its relative simplicity, can worry those of some hybrid cars! Sure, they burn more fuel that their modern hybrid equivalent, but they are so much simpler, and cheaper to fix if something does go wrong!

2) Long Original Shelf Life

Certain car models have been in continuous production far beyond the typical product lifecycle in the automotive industry. Throughout that lifespan, the automaker would have given the vehicles multiple nip and tucks, altering and adjusting the vehicle mechanically and aesthetically to keep it relevant.

This means that you can get away with buying an earlier example, and retrofitting parts from across the different facelifts, for a unique outlook. You can also choose to buy all the necessary parts from the last variants of the vehicle to shave years off your car, making it look younger and thus more expensive, than what you really paid for!

1) Brand

Sensibilities aside, some COE cars are popular simply because of the status associated with them. A brand new German luxury car is out of reach of the masses, as they are notoriously complicated and can cost a lot to keep on the road should things go wrong.

However, there’s something called depreciation. And COE cars benefit from having a more gradual depreciation curve, really only losing its residual COE value over the lifespan of the vehicle. Sure, you can get a brand new Toyota saloon for a set price, but you cannot deny the allure of said mid-sized luxury German saloon, albeit one that has had a revalidated COE. You get more nods of approval driving around in a renewed German saloon than a brand new bread-and-butter Japanese car!


Cars are notoriously expensive to own, and to keep owning, in Singapore. Unfortunately for the bulk of us, we’ve got to forgo our dreams of owning our ideal cars, settling for more practical and affordable bread-and-butter cars if we were to settle for new.

However, COE cars offer an avenue into driving vehicles from a marque that you’d otherwise not be able to afford. For a headache-free experience, head on over to the Cars For Sale section of the Carousell app! Scroll through, in the comfort of your own home we’d like to add, our thousands of listings from our trusted sellers! The variety means you’ll end up with the car of your dreams, at a price your wallet can stomach! New listings are added daily, so there’s definitely something for everyone, regardless of price point or budget!

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