Bargain Hunting: Used Cars That Punch Above Their Value

24 Jun 2020

Bargain Hunting: Used Cars That Punch Above Their Value

The A4 also embodies all the qualities important to a Singaporean. It adequately satisfies brand consciousness, is great to drive and powerful when needed, is comfortable and quiet when needed, and is practical enough to fill the role of a family’s only car.

For those of you that have read my previous articles, you will know I am a big fan of seeking out good used car deals in the market. After all, a used car in Singapore is good value, compared to the price of brand new cars. When I talk about getting a good deal, I do not refer to any special friend - friend discounts that I work out with car dealers. What I am talking about, is simply knowing how to spot and pick out good used car deals out of thousands of car listings, one which provides a very good balance between brand, price, ARF value, and depreciation. In other words, being savvy in the used car market is something that anyone can learn to do. 

When looking for a good deal on a used car, it is important to understand that we are not just referring to cheap cars. Rather, we are looking at used car deals that are value for money. As a general rule of thumb, the more premium a car is to buy brand new, the more likely you are to find a good used deal on it. This is because of the way cars depreciate in Singapore. However, for the purpose of this article, we won’t be looking at supercars and ultra premium cars. Instead, we will be looking at your everyday cars for the general population. Here are some second hand cars that punch above their value that you can consider right now. 

2012 - 2013 BMW 328i 2.0(A)

Unlike older generations of BMWs, this 328i actually utilises the same 2.0 litre powerplant you will find on a same generation F30 320i, but is tuned up / de-limited to produce 241 horsepower. Because of this, the road tax you’ll pay on this car is a very palatable $1,210 / year. In terms of depreciation, if you look hard enough, you will find that there are units that are depreciating at almost the same rate as a 320i of the same age. If you just consider these points, then it's a no brainer that one should grab a used 328i instead of a 320i - but it gets better. Because COE prices during the 2012 - 2013 period were high, hitting more than $90,000 in the tail end of 2012, such a used 328 is actually a very financially sound purchase. Couple this with a healthy $42,000 ARF figure, and you get a car that you can likely buy for less than $20,000 above deregistration value. What this means for you as a consumer is that if you are ever so unlucky as to purchase a car with major issues and huge repair costs, you can scrap the car anytime without losing a whole lot of money. To me, this is a great buy because the 328i is a proper driver’s car. At the point of production, if you exclude the BMW 335i (and subsequent 340i) and M3, the 328i was pretty much the highest specification F30 you can buy at the time. If you are the type of person who has ever considered buying a Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce, but didn’t dare to do so because of the fear of reliability issues, this might just be your most value for money option to buy something that is (almost) as fun to drive, is rear wheel drive, and packs plenty of power. 

2014 - 2018 Mazda 6 & Mazda 6 Wagon

Justifying why the Mazda 6 range is worth buying used is difficult, only because there are so many good things about this car that I don’t know where to start. For starters, the full sized Mazda 6 only depreciates at between $8,000 to $10,000 a year. For a car that boasts a premium looking interior, proper torque converter automatic transmission, relevant good looks, and excellent reliability, The Mazda 6 is definitely one of the best options in this price bracket. The car isn’t particularly exciting to drive, but it is arguably the Japanese car that comes closest to that “continental car feel”, thanks to the use of an Aisin torque converter rather than a CVT box. This also means that the transmission is more reliable than most people realise. For this kind of deprecation, I personally wonder why people still bother with the Toyota Camry and other mass market Japanese sedans. The Mazda 6 looks better, drives better, feels more premium inside (no gaudy and mismatched fake wooden panels), and is more value for money. The only downside is that if you get the 2.5 litre variant, you will be looking at road tax of $1,786 / year, which in my opinion is slightly more than you should pay for a car of this size and weight. If you are looking at a luxury sedan, but aren’t quite ready to move to a continental brand, the Mazda 6 should be very high on your used car shortlist. 

2015 - 2018 Lexus E250

The Lexus E250 is a great car if you are looking for premium luxury, without sacrificing Japanese reliability. Internationally, Lexus cars are considered to be one of, if not the most reliable automaker out there. The use of a 16 valve 4 cylinder engine also eliminates oil leak issues found commonly on traditional V6 engines. This generation of the Lexus 250 looks a little boring, if I were to be utterly honest. From some angles, it does still look like a slightly more decked out Toyota Camry. However, a used Lexus ES250 will depreciate between $13,000 to $15,000 a year, and has an ARF value of about $47,000. This is really good if you consider that this car sits at a level similar to a Mercedes-Benz E200, which depreciates at $1,500 - $2,500 more per year for a car of similar age. If you consider other cars in the similar class, such as a BMW 520 or an Audi A6, you will also likely find that a used one will depreciate similarly to the Lexus ES250. However, if we consider value, then we also have to consider reliability, which means that the Lexus 250 edges out the other two. Personally, purchasing a used ES250 would work very well for somebody who wants premium luxury, good value for money, reliability, and comfort. On a more candid note, used Lexus cars are also often under-utilised, gently driven, and will probably present themselves more palatable to a buyer who perhaps was not used to buying used cars. 

2018 - 2019 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI S-Tronic

This A4 is actually quite new, but I thought I would squeeze in something a little more current to the mix for buyers who might not be so keen on older cars. Interestingly, I still come across plenty of people in Singapore who are very reluctant to buy a used car for a myriad of reasons. Although quite new, you can actually buy a 2018 unit for just a smidge above $100,000, with a depreciation rate of between $10,000 - $12,000. Aside from depreciation, the reason I think the A4 is such a worthwhile car to buy used is because the base model at 187 horsepower, coupled with the super fast S-tronic transmission, will already feel like a rocket ship to drive for most drivers out there. Put it simply, this A4 will outrun most of its competition in the same class, and costs about as much as entry level offerings from other premium automakers, most of which cannot even come close to the performance offered by the A4. If you tune the car up to S-Line specifications (208 horsepower), the A4 may even outrun some of its premium competitors sitting a segment above. In my opinion, the A4 is the best pound for pound car you can buy. While the car does look a little boring, the A4 is actually still very decent fun to drive, and really practical for its size, thanks to its boxy dimensions and squarish boot. The A4 also embodies all the qualities important to a Singaporean. It adequately satisfies brand consciousness, is great to drive and powerful when needed, is comfortable and quiet when needed, and is practical enough to fill the role of a family’s only car. 

2013 - 2018 Volkswagen Sharan 2.0 TSI 

Much has been said about Volkswagen’s reliability in Singapore. Although there have been a lot of bad reviews online, it is important to note that the complaints are mostly about the 7-speed DSG dry clutch gearboxes. The Sharan therefore, should not be mistaken for an unreliable car, as it is equipped with a 2.0 litre turbocharged power plant, mated to a 6-speed DSG wet clutch gearbox. This is the same setup you will find on a Golf GTI, making the Sharan, the most performance oriented MPV in the market. At this point, you must be thinking, “Surely, the continental badge and high performance must come at a premium price” - Not true. A used Sharan will actually depreciate at between $10,500 - $12,000 / year, with most of the units depreciating less than a Toyota Estima / Previa or a Nissan Elgrand. In terms of depreciation, it is on par with a Honda Odyssey and in some cases, is priced even more competitively than the Odyssey. In the MPV segment, the Sharan not only stands alone as the only continental full size option among the usual Japanese players, but also sets itself apart on many levels. For starters, you will pay less road tax on the Sharan’s 2.0 litre capacity compared to the 2.4 litre / 2.5 litre Japanese options. You get significantly better drive quality from the Sharan’s turbocharged engine and dual clutch set up, compared to the naturally aspirated engines and CVT gearbox configuration found on the Japanese MPVs. The exception is the Honda Odyssey, which runs a regular torque converter, and in my opinion, is second only to the Sharan in terms of driving experience. The Sharan is more practical as well, as it has built-in booster seats in the second row, as well as 5 ISOFIX points in the car, compared to 2 ISOFIX points on all the other MPVs. In conclusion, the Sharan, when compared against the prominent Japanese MPV choices in Singapore, is cheaper to buy, more practical, performs better, and is not as unreliable as people think.

Looking for a quality used car? Check out Carousell's pre-loved car listings now!

#Cars #Used #SG #Singapore #Autos #Bargain #Premium #AudiA4 #Mazda6 #LexusES #BMW3Series #The3 #E30 #VW #Volkswagen #VWSharan #Mazda #Lexus #Audi

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