S$100,000 Challenge: Fun Pre-Owned Cars We Can Enjoy Now Instead Of Spending On A Six-Figure COE

Gerald Yuen
15 Jun 2022

Gone were the days where cars could be treated as a fuss free mode of transport, as the complex financial denominations associated with vehicle purchases these days can prove to be a stressful affair. And it did not help when some COE premiums breached the six-figure mark in the latest COE bidding exercise - an undesirable record previously held by COE results way back in 1994.

Even if you can financially afford to purchase a new car with COE now at stratospheric figures, it is still sensible to source for alternatives that might provide you with more smiles per mile. If you love driving and have set aside a budget of S$100,000, there are options in the used car market that can tick all the right boxes from a petrolhead’s perspective.

Sure, these cars might not possess the smell of new leather, might require some minor cosmetic reconditioning and do not afford you 10 full years of driving. But we can also argue that you’ll be able to drive home a car right now with a budget of S$100,000, compared to the current six-figure category B / E COE premiums that only permits you the right to own a car!

NA Mazda MX-5 (Manual)

From a purist’s perspective, the first generation (NA) Mazda MX-5 / Miata ranks way up there in terms of desirability. The first generation Miata might have rolled out of its Hiroshima factory more than three decades ago, but the sleek roadster still remains very relevant today. Dynamically, it is as well sorted as it can be given that it took inspiration from Lotus’s Elan. This example (going for S$85,800) features a five-speed manual (the transmission of choice for optimal driving pleasure particularly for the NA Miata) and a functional hardtop if you fancy more security. It slots in at a depreciation of S$12,500 per year, with COE expiring in March 2029. Will we get to enjoy pop-up headlights ever again in newer cars?

Mk 6 Volkswagen Golf GTI 5dr (Automatic)

This Mk 6 Golf GTI is going for S$99,800, with an annual depreciation of S$13k. You’ll have 7.5 years to enjoy what the Golf GTI has perfected since its inception in 1976 - a lethal blend of performance and functionality. Previous owners of this unit did not hold back on quality modifications too - an upgraded K04 turbo (over the OEM’s K03), LTA-approved Akrapovic exhaust and a stage 2 tune should supply this example with a torque-rich experience - perfect for B-road runs in Malaysia.

Subaru Impreza WRX 5DR (Manual)

We find it tough to identify new cars that supply the visceral, emotional appeal that Japanese performance cars manufactured well more than a decade ago possess in bucketloads. This Subaru WRX hatchback lists for $87,800, and has an annual depreciation of S$13,622 with 6.5 years left on its current COE. We consider it fair in the current climate, given that special edition Subarus and 4G63-powered Evos are going for nearly twice the depreciation of this unit.

FN2R Honda Civic Type-R 3DR (Manual)

The Euro-spec Honda Civic Type R (FN2R) might not be as hardcore as its JDM sibling, but we can argue that it is engineered to be more usable for daily commutes. Earlier models featured a rear double wishbone setup, before swapping to a less complex torsion beam - a sign that sportiness might not take precedence over outright usability. Nevertheless, an addictive K20 motor that begs to be revved rewards the driver with endless streaks of self-serviced satisfaction, largely also due to the sleek shifting 6-speed manual gearbox. This unit lists for S$87,800, with COE expiring in February 2029.

C107 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC (Automatic)

With a COE that runs till March 2030, this C107 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC going for S$89,000 could be the perfect project car for those who love to tinker with old school German metal. This unit is still on black plates, and according to the current owner, will come with a period-correct bidded number. Hint: contact our resident classic Merc gurus, Editor James and Joel for restoration tips!

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